Unsung Heroine of Bhutan’s Roadways: Dechen Peldon’s Tireless Journey

In the serene landscapes of Bhutan, nestled between the villages of Yongbaree and Sherichu, lies the tale of resilience and unwavering dedication embodied by Dechen Peldon. Her life, a testament to perseverance, unfolds against the backdrop of road maintenance, an essential yet often overlooked aspect of infrastructure upkeep in the kingdom.

For six days a week, Dechen arises with the first light, orchestrating the rhythms of her household before immersing herself in the demanding tasks that define her existence. From preparing meals to overseeing the bustling activity at the DANTAK store in Rongthung, her days are a whirlwind of responsibilities, each undertaken with a quiet determination.

Her journey commenced at a tender age of 18, when she stepped into her mother’s shoes, assuming the mantle of road construction work. The compensation, meager at best, hardly reflected the toil and sweat poured into tasks ranging from clearing landslides to maintaining drainage systems. Despite the challenges, Dechen persevered, driven by a sense of duty and responsibility towards her family.

Yet, the promises made by authorities in 1990, pledging land and housing, remain unfulfilled specters haunting Dechen’s aspirations. Left with a mere 50-decimal land, much of it unsuitable for cultivation, she grapples with the weight of misplaced land documentation and the uncertainty it casts over her family’s future.

“In losing the land documents, my mother’s worries became mine. As my children grow, the concerns only deepen,” Dechen confides, her voice tinged with a mix of resignation and determination.

Despite her relentless dedication, Dechen finds herself navigating an uncertain landscape, devoid of permanent job security or the cushion of benefits like sick leave. The prospects for her children, too, appear shrouded in uncertainty, with limited inheritance and insufficient resources for education.

Yet, amidst the shadows of adversity, Dechen remains resolute, steadfast in her commitment to her duties and the dignity they afford her. She dismisses societal judgments, finding solace in the significance of her work and the role it plays in sustaining her family.

Approaching the twilight of her career, Dechen grapples with the specter of retirement, her future intertwined with the fate of her employment with Project DANTAK and the uncertainties surrounding her housing situation. A recent application for land from the gewog administration stands as a beacon of hope, a testament to her unwavering resolve to secure a stable abode where she can finally rest and lay the foundation for her family’s future.

Dechen Peldon’s narrative embodies the spirit of Bhutan’s unsung heroes, whose tireless endeavors form the backbone of the nation’s infrastructure. Through her resilience and dedication, she not only ensures the smooth functioning of roadways but also exemplifies the quiet strength that sustains communities through adversity. In her story, we find echoes of determination, resilience, and the unwavering spirit that defines Bhutan’s indomitable soul.

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