Organization for Youth Empowerment engages youth in revamping Rangtse Nye surroundings- Haa

At this time of the year when farm work has not yet begun, youth in rural Bhutan usually idle away their time. But for a group of people in Haa’s Gakiling Gewog, the Organization for Youth Empowerment or OYE, a CSO, has kept them engaged. The CSO with its project to revamp and maintain the popular Rangtse Nye’s surroundings has employed over 20 workers who are mostly youth.

Among the workers, most are school dropouts who are staying back in the village to help their parents with farm works.

20-year-old Sangay Lhendup who left school in 2019 when he was in class nine, is one of them. Apart from making income from the project, he said he is also able to learn masonry skills as well. He and his friends are renovating an ancient trail from Rangtse village to Rangtse Nye on daily wage.

Sangay lost his father when he was 19, so he had to bear all the responsibilities in his family, as he was the eldest child. “So, for three years I worked in our cardamom fields after leaving school. After that I joined this project and I am not just making a living but also accumulating merits”

There are 22 of them in the project. They have already finished renovating another trail between the Haa-Samtse highway and the pilgrimage site.

“As we have this project in our village to work for, we need not have to go and find work in other places. We get to spend time with our family and we can even take care of them,” said Sangay Tshering, another young man engaged in the project.

“We depend fully on farm produce for our livelihood and at this time of the year, there is nothing we can sell. Therefore, getting to work in this project is beneficial for us. We get paid 500 ngultrum per day. This helps us buy our essentials and spend for the family,” said Rinchen Pem, who is also from Rangtse.

Sangay Tenpa, the Tshogpa of Rangtse Chiwog says the project is benefiting them and also the upkeep of the sacred site as well. “If the project continues for sometime, our children can work for it on regular basis. This will help address youth unemployment issue in our village to a certain extent.”

The project doesn’t end with the trail development. The CSO is also going to construct a cafeteria, a hot stone bath facility and a farm produce sales counter. It is also planning to construct a home stay near the pilgrimage site. These will be handed over to the youth that are currently engaged in the project for sustainability.

Nima Gyeltshen, the Executive Director of OYE said that his office has trained the participants in keeping records of their daily income. “And there are groups like this in other parts of the country. We will take them on a study tour to those places and give them the chance to learn their ways of running such facilities. Our objective is that once the project is complete and handed over to them, they must reap the benefits and not let it got to waste,” he added.

The project in Rangtse will be completed by June next year. It is supported by the government and the United Nations Development Programme.

Rangtse Nye is believed to be a secret abode of Guru Rinpoche and Khando Yeshey Tshogyel. It is around 3 hours drive from Haa.

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