The short walk from the border gate in Phuentsholing back to the hotel or to the immigration office can be a terrible experience. The dust, heat and smoke from the numerous vehicles that ply the road can be utterly suffocating.
But it is changing. While it will take some time and effort to completely get rid of the dust, the small facelift the business hub received, is a welcome change. The town wears a different look and the sight for visitors descending from the north or entering the country from the south, is more welcoming. The plants, the stone slabs and the flowers breathe a new life to the otherwise dusty, noisy town, even if it is limited to only one street.
What is more welcoming is the initiative of giving back. Tashi Commercial Corporation contributed Nu 20 million. The private company can relate to Phuentsholing. It was in Phuentsholing that they first ventured into business in the early years of Bhutan’s trading days. Today it has gone on to build a business dynasty. Their business would hold witness to how the town has changed, for good or bad.
It is, therefore, welcome to see a business house giving back to the community. A cash-strapped thromde, even if it wants to, cannot do it alone. It is a trend everywhere that big businesses through what is called corporate social responsibility, invest in improving the community they work or live in.
This is not missing in Bhutan and some in our corporate sector follow this good practice. But we need not be always rich to take initiatives or give back. We can do that in the smallest of ways. And we need not build parks or roads to contribute. It can be in simple ways where the gesture could lead to changing mind sets or for that matter, community values.
How many of us fill a pothole right in front of our home or on a road we frequent? How many of us coordinate cleaning campaigns without wanting media coverage? How many of us spare a few minutes to fix a leaking pipe? But we have time to take pictures and post it on social media.
It is not our responsibility. It is thromde’s or of the Zhung (government). When it is public property, it is nobody’s responsibility. This is the attitude.
Perhaps it may sound idealistic, but it is true that small contributions too make a difference. A good example is the woman in Paro who drained, using her bare hands, a pool of water on the road. She spared students from getting showered with dirty water splashed by speeding vehicles.
And here in Changzamtog, Ap Nado couldn’t cross the road near his house because it was all dug up. Everybody jumped over complaining except the old like him and the small children. He placed a plank and helped everybody cross the road with ease.
This is how we can contribute to our society, in our small ways.