Employment: There aren’t many opportunities for differently-abled people in the country to earn an income.

The human resources department with the labour ministry yesterday launched a skill development training programme for persons with disabilities and single parents of differently-abled children who are economically disadvantaged, at the national referral hospital in Thimphu.

The department in collaboration with BUSSI-EN Group, a social welfare organisation based in Japan and the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) will implement the special skill development programme.

Of the 16 trainees who will be undergoing the three-month tailoring course at the JDWNRH, nine are wheelchair users who frequently visit the hospital for physiotherapy.

The president with the national referral hospital, Lhab Dorji said that it is a good opportunity for the 16 trainees.

“When the government and the funding agency can spend so much money, it is important that you learn with interest,” the president said, speaking to the trainees. “If you succeed you can give hope to many others like yourself.”

The president said that every year, the government spends millions of Ngultrums on bed sheets and pillow covers, among others. To reduce the cost, the national referral hospital will employ about four or five trainees based on their performance and establish a tailoring unit at the hospital.

“There are more than 700 health staff who wear uniforms and if the trainees do well, it is an opportunity for them,” he said.

A 51-year-old man with a chronic impairment, Pema Dorji will train the participants for three hours daily for six days a week, starting yesterday.

The trainees will be taught the basic tailoring skills that include stitching the national dress, bed sheets, quilts and pillow covers, and health staff uniforms, among others.

Pema Dorji damaged his spinal cord when he fell off a two-storey house in 2004. He was in the hospital for more than three years and it was then that he realised that the government spends so much money on the treatment of a single person.

He didn’t want to be a burden to his family and the government, so he decided to open a tailoring shop in 2008. Pema Dorji earns about Nu 40,000 to 50,000 a month from his shop. He will soon open a tailoring training institute in Babesa.

Programme officer with the human resources department, Phuntsho Norbu, said that the trainees include students, employees and farmers who have to discontinue their education and work because of an impairment on some part of their body.

“The training aims to provide self-employment opportunities to re-integrate in the social order and for the enhancement of their livelihood,” Phuntsho Norbu said. Similar therapeutic training will be initiated in all the hospitals in the country with support from the government and civil society organisations.

The department financed the sewing tools and equipment worth Nu 164,171 including the trainer’s fee, while BUSSI-EN provided Nu 110,000 for the training materials.

A trainee, Lhacha Wangmo said that she wishes to open a tailoring shop after completing her training.

The 21-year-old mother of a three-year-old girl has been living with her sister after she got divorced. “It is difficult to find a job without any education qualification.”

A physiotherapist, Karma Phuentsho said that the trainees are selected based on their interest in tailoring. The training is also a part of physical therapy because it requires finger movements and has a positive effect on the mind and body as well.

Dechen Tshomo