Six years ago in the Spring of 2011, a Revenue and Customs official who had access to Facebook in Mongar Dzongkhag created a group called ‘Bongopas’ . Soon Bongops having internet access and having Facebook accounts posted many short notes about the need for better harmony within Bongops in the group. Since then, the Facebook group has developed into a Facebook account, small notes and information have grown into posts on a dedicated web server and many Bongops and few others are talking about this small informal setup. Here we lay down a chronological history of Bongop Tshogpa, an informal organization which is slowly taking shape and form.
The group called ‘Bongopas’ was first created by Sangay Tshering, Son of Ap Namgay and Aum Sangay Zam of Baeyulkuenzang on April 8, 2011. That was the beginning. The members of the group started to grow as one Bongop added another. Just a month after the group was created, Lekey Wangdi, son of Aum Nim Budha and Ap Kashi of Bongo made a post about the need to ‘further develop our community harmony’.
Lekey Wangdi specifically mentions in his post about the proposal from “our only ‘ever’ Azha Thinley which will really help very Bongops in all ways”. Sadly Azha Thinley is no more with us to see us reach even this initial stage of success. He passed away as 2014 ended.
On November 14, 2011, Rinzin Bataykaap, son of Ap Pema Wangchu and Aum Rinzin Budha of Bongo made a post saying that Sangay Thinley, son of Ap Kado and Aum Khandu Om of Phasuma was ‘drafting rules & regulations for formation of stronger Bongop Community…’ He also urged Bongops to ‘please help grow ourselves…’.
On the same day on 14 November, The group founder Sangay Tshering posted the draft. If you look carefully at the draft about the formation of ‘Bongo Phendey Tshogpa’ – as it was initially called – it is dated ‘26th October 2011, 3:30 AM’ and the draft was prepared by Sangay Thinley and the post was done by Sangay Tshering.
The issues of community harmony and youths of Bongo was the main concern raised frequently in the group as well and most notably by our Bongop celebrity Azha Rapay Khandu as evidenced from his January 5, 2014 post in our group.
The annual archery event in Bongo village was a concern for everyone and none put forward more succinctly than by two siblings of Aum Rinzin Budha and Lopen Tshering Wangdi family, Dawa Drakpa and Jigme Dorji, through their poetic expression as both are English Language Teacher in government schools.
Then finally on 26 July 2014, the first Bongop Tshogpa meeting took place. It was held at the residential lawn at Aum Tshering Yangden’s home in Chubachu. Between April 8, 2011 when the first ‘Bongopas’ group was formed on Facebook and the day when the first Tshogpa meeting was held, it took 1,203 days!. Then the second Tshogpa meeting was also held just a month after on 25 August, 2014.
Since then, Bongop Tshogpa has drafted a Tshogpa ToR, bought Tshogpa utensils, done fund contributions and continues to perform small initiatives as and when required. We leave Tshogpa initiatives as topic of post for another day.
Despite coming this far, the journey has just begun and challenges will be many on the way. We are already getting calls from few to register as a formal organization. Honestly, we don’t have any reason or much purpose to do that. We are satisfied with our status as an informal organization which can benefit people on a practical level. Being formal and official comes with so many hurdles although we are not yet sure about any advantage it may offer. But we do have our own constraints even for now.
For an organization which was purely based on labour of love and concern for the community from which one originate, the journey we have travelled in the last six years was worth reflecting. No one is paid to do any of this stuff and it is not a profitable job either. Instead it is a job which few even within our own circles are skeptical about. There is no fund set aside to do any activity other than to buy the utensils for common use by Bongops. Even now, the few initiatives are carried out by the volunteers who also act as the Tshogpa Administrators. But you all know when it is not a job which pays to buy rice and salt at home, determination and efforts some time withers. The fire of volunteerism ignites fast and perishes faster too in some.
But we are optimistic for now. More than the challenges are the opportunities we all have if we the Bongops can come together and act in harmony. We have to fill in the vacuum that is left by the government and agencies. Some of us think day and night about the major issues affecting our villages and we want to make this well functioning Bongop Tshogpa a gift to our younger Bongops. We want to do the basic thing that we are built upon – promote community harmony.