Phub Dem

Eleven years after the Disabled Persons’ Association of Bhutan (DPAB) was formed, the association is now upgraded to Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO).

This, according to the founders of the association comprising a group of persons with blindness, was an achievement for the country.

A physiotherapist, Dr Sanga Dorji, a person with blindness, led a group of visually impaired colleagues and founded DPAB in 2010.

From settling in a cheap hotel to discuss the formation of an association to renting a room, documenting and hiring people to fulfil the criteria of forming an association, Dr Sanga Dorji said they had come a long way.

According to him, the formation of the organisation was necessary but delayed due to a shortage of human resources and capital.

With many associations catering to different disabilities and working in silos, there was a need for a collective representation both within and outside the country, he said. “The foundation will provide a collective and common voice from people living with different kind of disabilities in the country.”

Five CSOs working on disabilities such as Ability Bhutan Society, Drak-Tsho, Phensem Parents Group, Bhutan Stroke Foundation, will now play the lead role in forwarding issues related to PWDs.

Dr Sanga Dorji said, the up-gradation would also help the country rectify the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) after being a signatory since 2010.

The civil society organisation that works by and for the community of persons with disabilities believes in empowering a particular section of people by providing them with the necessary assistance.

The organisation supports persons with disabilities by opening education opportunities and making the public aware of the daily struggles that persons with disabilities go through.

Decades before the formation of the association, Dr Sanga Dorji said that there was limited knowledge about persons with disabilities.

He said that it was essential to have a universal representation of persons with disabilities to participate, contribute and influence decisions and strategy in policymaking.

“It’s a huge achievement and the voice of persons with disabilities will be represented through the organisation.”

Duptho Zangmo, who is also a founder of DPAB, said that she could advocate for people to consider the needs of women with disabilities through the association. “I hope I made some difference in the lives of women with disabilities through my voice.”

Tandin Dorji, who represents persons with physical disability, said had it not been for DPAB, he wouldn’t be there today.

He said that he had seen significant changes in people’s attitude towards persons with disabilities.

As DPAB transits to DPO, persons with disabilities were hopeful for an inclusive society by 2030.  They met in Paro yesterday to launch DPO.