Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Nothing is impossible. The Gewog Administration Officer (GAO) of Sangachholing gewog, Samtse has proven this.

Just three months into the job, she went out of her comfort zone to help a needy family in the remote village of Depheling-Moed (earlier known as Lower Gathia) in gewog.

In mid-April, Kinley Wangmo, 23, met this family of nine members in one of her site visits. Seeing their living conditions, she knew she had to help.

“I just could not believe my eyes and my heart felt so heavy,” she said, adding the family was living in a dilapidated house.

Kinley said the house was made of bamboo, tarpaulin sheets and bamboo thatches. It was dismally partitioned into two rooms. The entire family slept together, in one room. The other room was the kitchen. There were few rusted plates and mugs. The family just had a plate full of rice and some kharang (grinded maize).

The family has six daughters, their grandfather, 78 and grandmother, 88, who has mental disorder and a girl child, daughter of the eldest sister. The siblings lost their father to suicide in 2015. Their mother married again and left. They have minimal contact with their mother but the mother can’t help them anyway as she has a child from her new husband.

They have a small land but aren’t resourceful as they are a group of children, old and weak, and handicapped. The family has let another person cultivate in return for a quarter of the harvest. Otherwise, the family survived selling vegetables (including wild) they grow in their kitchen garden.

The eldest sister, 21, is married and has a young daughter. Her husband is a delivery boy in a hardware shop in Phuentsholing and the only one who supports the family.

Kinley Wangmo said the second eldest of the sisters, 20, could hardly move due to injuries on her leg and spinal cord. All other sisters are studying as day scholars.

The gewog mangmi had told the GAO about the family and the possibility of registering them for kidu.

“But being new to the job, I didn’t know what to do. So I visited their house. None of the sisters was enrolled as kidu recipients,” the GAO said.

She then decided to take the matter in her own hands. Being the youngest in her family, Kinley said she had never taken such a great responsibility.

“The responsibility of giving them a proper home felt so heavy that I could not even sleep that night,” she said.

Kinley started looking for contributions from her friends and officials she knew. Many came forward. Among them were police officials, de-suups, and locals from Sipsu. Many from Sangachholing also contributed. However, almost 72 percent of the monetary contribution was made by a family group called Tshe-Ngyen-Ge- Puencha based in Thimphu.

The construction started on May 6, 2021. The family, in the meanwhile, was relocated to the chiwog meeting hall. However, Samtse went under a complete lockdown on May 12 and vehicle movements were restricted. Getting raw materials was challenging. But the construction continued in self-containment mode.

“I didn’t have a sound sleep till the completion of the work,” she said.

Although the lockdown was extended, to her surprise, the construction was completed in just 10 days. After the lockdown relaxation started, the new house was consecrated in the traditional way and handed over to the family on June 7, 2021.

“I could finally give them a beautiful home with some modern amenities,” she said.

The new house has five rooms and a separate kitchen. There are fans, electric cookers. The family already had a toilet built in the gewog’s 100 percent toilet coverage.

The eldest sister said living in the old house was so risky.

“We are so happy,” the eldest of sisters said.

Sangachholing gup said: “The family now has a beautiful house. All credit goes to our GAO.”

Sangachholing gewog is Kinley Wangmo’s first placement after graduating from the Royal Institute of Management, Semtokha in 2020. She completed Post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration. She has a Bachelor’s in English and Dzongkha from Sherubtse.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk