Our Senior Program Officer, Ms. Sonam Yangden Tobgyel, gave a talk on June 7th at the Royal Thimphu College’s Symposium on Social Participation for Bhutanese with Disabilities!

Sonam has worked on our Special Education Program for the last six years and has been instrumental in helping to found and maintain some of our most successful programs. During the talk, she spoke about the history of the Foundation’s special education program and its roots focusing, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, on building the capacity of teachers in our schools. She went on to describe how forward momentum from that program, along with ample community support and parental engagement in founding partner groups like Phensem Parent’s Support Group, Bhutan, helped to develop further work in transitioning children with disabilities from the home to school and then on as active participants in the workforce.

As an added feature, Sonam also presented the work of Dhungsel Home SPA, a social enterprise started by individuals with visual impairment. The Bhutan Foundation began this project by first helping individuals with visual impairment get training in spa therapy in partnership with Aman Resorts--an internationally renowned five-star resort in Bhutan.

With the training he received from this workshop, one participant with a particular entrepreneurial spirit, Tshering Dorji, was inspired to start his own spa and, with additional support from the Bhutan Foundation, was able to start his own business! Today, Tshering Dorji is an independent business owner while many of his fellow trainees went on to earn gainful employment at the various spas in Bhutan’s growing hotel industry.

Great work, Sonam!