Continuous light precipitation for the last two weeks intensifies the freezing weather in Merak.

It’s 10am and it is the lone early childhood care and development (ECCD) centre buzzing with the sound of children in the locality.

Two months ago, the children at the centre covered themselves in thick jackets but after the dzongkhag administration and a non-profit organisation provided four panel heaters and jute carpets last month, the centre is warm.

Facilitators at the centre raised the issue of the lack of heating system at the centre a few months ago. With temperature in the gewog dropping, the two facilitators were concerned about the children.

Only about 15 children attend the ECCD regularly

The dzongkhag administration provided the centre with jute carpets enough to cover the two rooms at the centre and non-profit organisation, ShaMa Foundation, donated the four heaters.

“We were concerned about the children because it gets really cold in Merak,” one of the facilitators, Thinley Wangmo, said. “With panel heaters, the children will stay warm and they can concentrate on what we teach them.”

She said the jute carpets would keep the children safe since they hurt when they fall. “The dzongkhag also assured to provide a LCD screen for the centre and we expect the screen to be delivered by this month.”

The enrolment at the ECCD has also increased over the last two months. In May this year, the centre had 23 children. Today the number has increased to 29.

However, of the total students registered, only about 15 to 18 students come regularly. Facilitators said most parents in the gewog still take their children to the forests when they migrate with their cattle.

A parent, Sangay Wangmo, who recently returned from her pastureland in Khaling, said she couldn’t enrol her 2-year-old daughter at the ECCD because there was no one to look after her when they went away with the yaks.

“We would have happily enrolled our daughter at the centre if we had someone to look after her here,” she said. “We would like our daughter to learn and mingle with other children but we don’t have an option.”

In a year the nomadic herders of Merak spend around nine months with their cattle in their pasturelands spread across the highlands.

Younten Tshedup


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