Citizens giving back

Initiative receives good response as fund reach Nu 10 m by Tuesday morning

Yeshey Lhadon

Tsheten Tamang, a class V student never had more than Nu 50 in her pocket. The daughter of a daily wage earner earned, for the first time, Nu 300 helping her parent’s neighbour just before the nationwide lockdown.

A few days ago, she donated her first income, Nu 300 when she heard of the initiative, “Citizens Giving Back.” The initiative, to reinforce Covid-19 response Fund account, was created by a corporate employee on August 22 morning coinciding with the 65th Birth Anniversary of His Holiness the Je Khenpo.

Tsheten’s classmate, Sonam Kafley was inspired. She managed to convince her father to cut down on his beer. She contributed Nu 300. Another student came up with Nu 75.

From primary schools students to civil servants, corporate employees and even those badly affected by the Convid-19 pandemic, Bhutanese  have come together to support the Covid-19 Fund.

The initiator, who didn’t want to be identified,  came across a friend’s Facebook post calling on citizens to give back Nu 20 each to ease governments’ financial burden during Covid-19 pandemic. He suggested people to donate Nu 100 each over next 60 days to raise Nu 80 million to morally boost the government.

“Our King, the government and the frontline workers are working day in and out to ensure our safety. And the government is going broke,” he said.

The contributions go to government’s Covid-19 respond Fund account maintained with Bank of Bhutan Limited (BoBL)and Bhutan National Bank Limited (BNBL). The generosity is outpouring.

BoBL’s Covid-19 account received Nu 2.5 million on Saturday and it increased to Nu 10 million by Tuesday. “I’m amazed and overwhelmed by the kind of response people are showing,” said the initiator.

The act of donation not only expressed gratitude and appreciation to our leaders and front-line workers but also brought the sense of togetherness among the Bhutanese people, he added.

Tharlam Dema, a contributor said, “It was a wonderful initiative allowing people all over the the country to express their gratitude to all the frontline workers.”

Darlami enterprise donated Nu 55,555. The owner said, “We need to unite and support each other. He calls it a simple gesture to appreciate His Majesty The King’s sacrifices to the country and the people.

Another donor, Pema Lhamo, said that she wanted to show her gratitude to the Kidu office for helping people who have lost their livelihoods due to Covid-19 pandemic. She was saddened when she learnt that some people didn’t even had money to buy vegetables or rice. “A small contribution can make a huge difference,” she said.

People were aware that the government has spent millions to protect the citizens, Tshering Dorji, another contributor said, “We usually spend money lavishly without keeping an account. Donating gives me satisfaction and a sense of belonging.”

In the east, the Mongar hospital staff collected Nu 16,000 to feed street dogs. They found out that His Majesty’s Kidu office is taking care of the stray dogs and decided to donate the collected amount to Covid-19 Fund. Chundu Tshering said, “We are glad to be able to join the good cause.”

Not only Bhutanese citizens, foreigners are also donating. A Thai volunteer residing in Bhutan, Chartlada Sangaij, donated some amount as she was moved by how His Majesty and the government carried out their duty. “I can put my trust on them that it will reach people in need,” she said.

Sangay Lhaden, who recently graduated from Sherubtse donated Nu 4. She said, “That’s all I had in my account.” She was glad to receive positive feedback from the public despite donating the least amount.

However, the Royal Monetary Authority requested people to erase their account numbers before posting their screenshots to keep away cyber criminals and attackers.

Meanwhile, Bhutanese living in New York are collecting fund and planning to donate money on a monthly basis.

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