Most visually impaired children of Bhutan start their education at the Muenselling Institute for the Visually Impaired in Khaling, in eastern Bhutan. While a few of them graduate and pursue higher studies, most find it difficult to continue and give up on their education. Some students who drop out remain dependent on their families, or start working in drayangs (bars with entertainment), as singers or musicians for a very meager salary.
The Bhutan Foundation, in partnership with the Disabled Persons’ Association of Bhutan (DPAB), intends to help some of these youths transition into better jobs. As our first step, we have collaborated with Amankora, Bhutan. Amankora is a branch of the luxury hotel group, Aman Resorts, with presence in over 15 countries across the world. They have generously offered to train four of our visually impaired candidates in spa therapy. With the hotel and spa industry growing in Bhutan a career as a spa therapist projects a brighter and more secure future.
The Bhutan Foundation and DPAB have identified four candidates who have dropped out or have never been to school. These candidates will be trained for six months in spa therapy at the Amankora, Thimphu. During the training period they will be provided with housing, living allowance, transportation and uniform.
After being trained for six months the candidates will be certified as spa therapists. Depending on vacancies available and their aptitude, they will have the opportunity to be employed by Amankora. As a way of sustaining the program, each candidate has agreed to contribute ten percent of his or her salary to DPAB for a period of one year from the date of employment. These contributions will be used for training the next batch of candidates.
Contingent on this program being successful, Amankora has agreed to train more people with disabilities in their other lodges around the country.