Choki Wangmo 

As Covid-19 cases emerged in Jaigaon, Bhutanese living in the town went into a frenzy.  They had young children and elderly members in their families to look after.  Their worst fear was what if the border gates closed.  They couldn’t go to work in Bhutan and would remain deprived of any income to survive.

His Majesty The King came to their rescue soon. It was the peak of the monsoon. The temperature soared above over 40 degrees Celsius. Leaving behind the comforts of the refreshing palace in Thimphu, the King made more than five royal tours to the South. 

On every tour, His Majesty visited the Amochhu Land Development and Township Project area and personally monitored the progress of the work on the construction of shelters for the Bhutanese evacuated from Jaigaon before the closure of the border in March 2019.

Under His Majesty The King’s command, the Royal Bhutan Army constructed the prefabricated temporary shelters at Toorsa.  A total of 1,000 units were constructed within weeks and an estimated 5,000 people have been evacuated and sheltered.  The first lot of shelters was given in May 2020.

Prior to the pandemic, many Bhutanese chose to stay across the border because the house rent was cheap.  Most residents were from the low-income group. They received a relief amount from The King.

Considering the porous border Phuentsholing shares with Jaigaon and the mobility of people in these cross-border towns, risks of spreading Covid-19 were high, in case of any positive case. His Majesty visited the border areas to personally talk to the people about the growing threat of community transmissions.

The residents today look back and dread to think what would have become of them if it were not for His Majesty The King’s timely intervention and providing them with refuge.

“We can’t fathom what would have become of us if His Majesty did not intervene,” said a resident, Lobzang. “We have no words to express our gratitude.”