A proprietor of a small business literally ran away when a Kuensel reporter took out his phone to take a picture. The proprietor had just made a contribution to the government’s Covid-19 Respond Fund. In his hand, in a transparent plastic file, was an acknowledgement letter from the health ministry.

He requested the reporter to not publish his story. “It is just a small contribution,” he said. The day before, a farmer donated a portion of his savings. By then individuals, groups, orgnisations and businesses had made contributions to the government as symbol of unity and harmony to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

By last week, there were millions of ngultrums, tonnes of rice and vegetables and even cooking oil and salt donated by people from all walks of life.  The spirit of unity and harmony was appreciated by His Majesty The King in his address to the nation last Friday. His Majesty summed up the importance of coming together in the face of adversaries.

His Majesty said: “If we–the King, government, and people, work together like members of one family, we can emerge unscathed from any adversity that we may encounter.”

This Bhutanese story will be remembered and appreciated long after the Covid-19 pandemic is gone. It has become an example of unity and harmony.

There will be more contributions pouring in, in cash and kind. Talks are going on that a lot of initiatives and donation drives are happening. Unfortunately, some of these are not going down well with the people. This is because the contribution has to be genuine and come from the heart. The amount doesn’t matter, the intention does.

As with most contributions, there are some questions being raised. Some overzealous organisers are setting limits making people reluctant contributors.

Then there are questions if people are competing with each other in their contributions. The local media is overwhelmed by the request of news coverage, some subtly and smartly, and some blatantly, on their contributions. The media is relishing this and are competing to break news, as readers applaud the contributors.

The impact of coronavirus is there for all to see. It is going to dig a deep hole in the government’s coffer. Knowing this, the contributions are appreciated. The question is when people tend to forget the purpose of contributing.

Contributions are made for a good cause without expecting anything in return. It should not be for publicity. As Buddhist, we believe that the merits we earn are greater when offerings or contributions are kept low key without publicizing them.

Last week, Kuensel went after the farmer who donated Nu 10,000 to write his story. He didn’t bother if his small contribution should be publicised or if it was a story for the media.

Kuensel appreciated his genuineness and wanted to tell his story. We told his story because his story symbolised the purpose of contributing.