Elderly Woman Achieves Lifelong Dream Through Non-Formal Education

In an inspiring tale of determination and lifelong learning, Tshering Choden, a resilient 73-year-old woman, has realized her dream of reading Dzongkha after dedicating three years to a non-formal education (NFE) program.

Tshering Choden stands out as the eldest among 14 NFE graduates who recently completed their three-year journey at the Zomlingthang and Pelrithang NFE centers in Gelephu.

With her educational journey now complete, Tshering Choden dedicates her morning and evening hours to prayers, a testament to her unwavering commitment.

Reflecting on her incredible journey, she expressed a sense of regret for not attending school during her youth, despite government insistence at the time. Joining the NFE program allowed her to fulfill her desire to grasp the basics of Dzongkha, and she is immensely grateful for this opportunity, which has empowered her to read prayers.

Tshering Choden also highlighted the practical benefits of the program, as it has equipped her with the ability to understand numbers and the English alphabet, which prove invaluable in her daily life.

“Now, when I visit the hospital, I can read the room numbers. This is helpful,” she said.

Tshering Choden’s three-year educational journey was far from easy, especially without immediate family support. Her commitment to completing the program spanned over a decade, and she faced numerous challenges along the way. Balancing her responsibilities as a caretaker for her sister’s children forced her to take breaks from her studies, and she had to change educational centers multiple times due to various obstacles.

She recounted the initial struggles she faced, including the difficulty of holding a pen and writing in her books. Her early attempts at writing often resulted in torn paper. Even experimenting with thicker paper didn’t help. “But now, I am happy I finished the program despite these challenges.”

Originally from Bumthang, Tshering Choden now resides in Zomlingthang. She owns a five-acre plot with more than 1,000 areca nut trees. Her focus has shifted from farming to devoting more time to prayers and prostrations, leading a contented life in her single-storey building, which she also rents out to another family.

Sharing her personal history, Tshering Choden said that after a 26-year-long marriage, she chose not to marry again after a divorce. Tragically, her only son passed away at just two and a half months old, making her journey all the more remarkable in its strength and resilience.

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