Nima | Gelephu

She has meals ready for her three sons—aged 22, 20, and 12—before she goes to work. That’s the easy part. Having to look for them when she returns is a nightmare.

With no one to look after her boys when she is at work, Purki Rai has been having a hard time as the one and only provider of the family.

For the last one and a half year, the boys and their mother have been living in a storeroom that neighbour helped find for them.

Sarpang has more than 500 persons with disabilities. Dekiling Gewog has the highest number. This is Ability Bhutan Society’s estimate.

Organisations such as Ability Bhutan Society and private individuals have also walked in to help. The gewog administration provides 100 percent subsidised farming programme to such families and individuals.

Dekiling Gup Padam Singh Mongar said that most of them who are physically and mentally challenged did not have a permanent home.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the gewog started a support scheme for the persons with disabilities and the families to help improve their living conditions. The gewog today is supporting 100 percent subsidised farming on a pilot basis.

After separating with her husband, Purki Rai had to look after her sons all alone. “There is only so much I can do.”

Could Ability Bhutan Society’s (ABS) social inclusive development programme to provide caregivers be an answer to such problems facing the many families?

According to ABS, resource shortage, lack of access to education and health services and social stigma and discrimination are some of the major problems.

There is a need for a holistic approach to deal with problems such as these. That means building a strong support system in the society.

“Most of them are not aware of the service providers. They feel encouraged when they come to know about others with similar problems. Participation is important for them,” an ABS official said.

But there is a missing link. For example, why do families struggling with disability not report to and support the service providers?

Purki Rai is home today. One of her sons is reeling on the floor. The other is wriggling up to his mother. The third son may be playing in the dust not far off.

The question is: why with so many organisations and programmes do we still have such sad problems that beg the attention of our legislators and CSOs?

Purki Rai put it best. “In a welfare society like ours, who what indeed go wrong?”