An inspiring story of a young boy coming up trumps despite being given a bad deal

Profile: Dorji Nedup is an instructor at Draktsho Vocational Training Centre for Special Children and Youth in Thimphu.  From Goshing in Zhemgang, the thirty-five-year-old is visually impaired.

Dorji lost his vision when he was 14.  He woke up one morning and could not see things clearly.  He was in the 6th grade.  His mother consulted lamas and performed rituals.  But nothing helped.  He had gone blind.

And then life took a different turn.  Dorji left school and stayed home, looking after cattle.  Relatives began mistreating him.  He never got a proper meal at home.  A lama in his village took Dorji in and taught him some things about religion, hope and patience.

Like Dorji, there are many who have worked their way through obstacles and landed a job somewhere to lead independent life.

Dorji had just come out of retreat and was listening to BBS radio.  There was announcement about admission at the National Institute for the Disabled in Khaling, Trashigang.  From Gelephu he went to Khaling, where he studied for six years.  Financial problems got him back to the village.

But Dorji wanted to make something out of his life.  He went to Panbang in Zhemgang to learn how to tshazo (bamboo work) and headed straight to Thimphu to make a living with whatever skills he had.  That was in 2006.

“Life in Thimphu wasn’t what I thought it would be like,” says Dorji.  He put up with a friend.  And then he learnt about Draktsho Vocational Training Centre for Special Children and Youth.  Jigme Wangmo, the founder and director of the centre, took Dorji in as an instructor.  Since then, he has been teaching both academic subjects and vocational skills at the centre.

Draktsho helps children with disabilities to be independent.  It was established on October 2, 2001.

“Now this is where I belong. I’ve always wanted this kind of life,” said Dorji.  He is always with his 18 students at the centre.

In the mornings, Dorji teaches academic subjects – English, Mathematics, and Dzongkha.  In the afternoons he teaches vocational skills like weaving.  He uses Braille and takes out a copy each for 18 students.

“We all have difficulties here. That’s why we can connect to each other,” says Dorji. “It’s challenging. But challenges are what drive people to move ahead.”

Dorji Nedup said that the special children at the centre were intelligent and hard working.  That makes his job a lot easier.  Dorji thanks his supportive colleagues, who help him with whatever he needs to do at the centre.

“I enjoy my profession. I must thank my wife for this,” says Dorji.  His wife, who worries about Dorji every second of her life, drops him at the centre and comes to pick him up in the evening.

Says Dorji: “Being a father of two daughters, I sometime feel really sad. I’m not able to do to my daughters what other fathers normally do to their children. But I want to give them the best of education. Only then will I be satisfied.”

Shifting with unfocused look, Dorji says that all the schools in the country should teach Braille, at least in the initial years. “This will not only help normal children understand more about special children, but also help them deal with future.”

Tshering Dema