March 16, 2016
Much of the eastern United States is experiencing a scorching heat wave this week. To cool you off, we want to share a photograph of a tiger in the snowy mountains of Bhutan, caught in camera traps set up by field biologists from the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) and the Department of Forests and Park Services! It is no longer news that Bhutan’s mountain tigers roam all across the country, from subtropical foothills on the Indian border all the way to the foot of glaciers in the mountains. This particular photo was taken in a forest in the northern parts of eastern Bhutan–further validation that Bhutan is important for global tiger survival.
Southern Bhutan: Stay Safe!
The heavy monsoons are upon us in full force, wreaking havoc across southern Bhutan. Led by His Majesty the King and the Prime Minister, volunteers, the armed forces, and disaster-relief personnel are working hard on flood mitigation, river-bank protection, and relief measures. It is inspiring to see selfless leadership in action emanating from His Majesty, reassuring all Bhutanese citizens in these difficult times. We pray for the safety of His Majesty and everyone involved and hope that normalcy will be restored soon.
Chukha District and Thimphu: Special Education Updates
In the thick of the monsoons, in the southern foothills, is Kamji Central School (KCS). Kamji is one of our inclusive schools with a special-education needs (SEN) program. Teacher Chimi Dema leads the SEN program at the school. With the support of the principal and other teachers, she has been applying knowledge gained from trainings and workshops that the Ministry of Education had provided with the support of the US Special Education Advisory Committee and the Bhutan Foundation. As the only school in the Chukha district that serves children with learning differences, KCS is under pressure to accept children with physical disabilities as well. However, with the difficult terrain and longer distance from a health facility, the school faces tremendous challenges to become more inclusive, especially for children with physical disabilities.
On a different note, the Changangkha Middle Secondary School, the first inclusive school in Bhutan and one of the two model schools, will soon get its first playground with access for disabled children. This has been a project borne out of partnership and compassion, and has received the support of the Rotary Club of Bhutan, Mr. Phil McMaster and Mrs. Angela James, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Barker of Nashville, Tennessee, the Construction Development Board, and the Bhutan Foundation. We also received a modest discount from the equipment supplier, Tiny Toes Supplies. The playground will be ready for the children in September 2016.
Bumthang: A Palace for the Public
Back in Thimphu, a team from the Division of Conservation of Architectural Heritage Sites presented an update on the restoration work at the Wangduechhoeling Palace to the Minister of Home and Cultural Affairs and the Bhutan Foundation. Next month, the team will brainstorm to lay out the foundation for the museum component of the Palace. After completing restoration work on the Lingkha Lhakhang this spring, the main Palace is currently undergoing restoration. When completed, the Palace will open as a public museum and a window into the cultural heartland of Bhutan.
We hope that this provides you with a glimpse of the exciting work still happening in Bhutan this summer amid the monsoon havoc. Thank you for your support, which makes this important work possible year round. Wishing you and your family an enjoyable remainder of the summer!
Tshewang Wangchuk and Sonam Yangden