Lhakpa Quendren | Panbang

Marangduth, Panbang — As the farming season unfolds in the picturesque village of Marangduth, most farmers eagerly venture into their fields, preparing for a fruitful harvest. However, for one couple, 45-year-old Namgay and 44-year-old Lhadon, the season brings forth a daunting challenge as they struggle to sustain their family solely through labour work.

Namgay and Lhadon find themselves facing an uphill battle to meet their financial needs. Currently, the couple primarily engages in backbreaking tasks within their neighbours’ fields, scraping together meagre earnings to support their family. Namgay says, “We respond whenever our neighbours call upon us for work, and in return, we earn Nu 300 per day.”

Despite grappling with difficulties in walking due to a persisting ailment in his right leg, Namgay takes on additional labour work at construction sites within Panbang whenever contract opportunities arise. He recounts how his leg began causing him distress a few years ago due to an illness, and to this day, he experiences lingering pain during rainy and overcast weather.

As parents to two sons and a daughter, Namgay and Lhadon harbour deep concerns about the future of their children. Lhadon says, “We constantly fret about our financial situation, our children’s education, as well as their overall health and well-being. Our entire future hangs precariously.”

Their eldest daughter, having completed Class 12 two years ago, currently finds temporary employment at one of the lodges in Panbang. However, due to the family’s financial hardships, they were unable to send her for higher studies. Lhadon says, “We could not afford to pursue her higher education, given the financial constraints we face.” Meanwhile, their second eldest child is a fifth-grader, while the youngest has chosen the path of a monk.

Occasionally, the family finds respite in the generosity of visitors. Lhadon says, “We have managed to save a few thousand in cash assistance, which we have used to purchase timber for constructing a house.”

Living in a small bamboo hut that has weathered with the passage of time over the past two decades, the family yearns to build a safe and secure home. However, this aspiration remains a distant dream, at least for the present. Namgay highlights the primary obstacle hindering their progress – a lack of resources. He says, “We have sufficient timber to construct a small, single-story dwelling, but without the necessary funds, our dream remains elusive. Everything becomes immensely challenging when money is scarce.”

Aside from essential kitchen and bedding items, such as a rice cooker, curry cooker, and gas stove, the family grapples with the inability to afford basic household necessities.

The family owns approximately two acres of land along Bjoka Gewog Centre Road. However, this land is left fallow due to the persisting human-wildlife conflict. Lhadon says, “For a few years, we attempted to cultivate maize on our land, but it proved arduous to protect the crops from incessant monkey invasions.”

As the farming season unfolds in Marangduth, the plight of Namgay and Lhadon serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges faced by labourer families in rural communities. Their unwavering determination to provide for their children’s future and uplift their living conditions remains an enduring testament to the resilience of the human spirit amidst adversity.