Rajesh Rai  | Phuentsholing 

More than 140 individuals, mostly Japanese friends of Bhutan, contributed equipment worth Nu 863,947 for the Phuentsholing Thromde’s ECCD centre, which is expected to open later this year.

“After I read the Kuensel article on March 26, which read, ‘more than 5,000 Bhutanese had been evacuated from Jaigaon and sheltered in schools,’ I was deeply inspired to do something for their health and living environment.”

A Japanese citizen, Tomoaki Tsugawa, an ex-JICA expert on Local Governance Project decided to contribute after reading in Kuensel about Jaigaon evacuees.

He then started a donation campaign for about one and a half months among ex-JICA volunteers, experts, the member of Bhutan-Japan Friendship Association, enterprises, his friends and many other like-minded people.

He was able to collect more than 1.2 million (M) yen from 141 individuals from Japan, Bhutan, and other countries.

JICA Bhutan Office handed over the donated items, including a TV set, air conditioner set, and a refrigerator, to the Phuentsholing Thromde on July 18.

“We hope this small support would help the lives of evacuees in Phuentsholing. I pray the horror by Covid-19 would be contained and normal life resumed soon,” Tomoaki Tsugawa said in a letter to JICA Bhutan Office.

Phuentsholing Thromde is working on an ECCD centre on the topmost floor of the three-storey vegetable complex. The centre will cater to the children unable to enrol their children in private centres.

This means children from the Toorsa temporary settlement are also eligible, should their parents be unable to send them to private ECCD centres.

During the ceremony, JICA Bhutan Office’s representative, Kota Wakabayashi said the clicking point of this contribution was when the contributors knew about Bhutanese evacuated from Jaigaon. 

“After knowing the difficult situation in Phuentsholing and the efforts to combat Covid-19, many felt sympathy to work with the residents of Phuentsholing,” he said.

“Many felt and wanted to do something for the evacuees.”

Kota Wakabayashi said JICA Bhutan Office discussed with Phuentsholing Thromde and the recommendation to invest in this ECCD was decided.

“We also hope the equipment will last for a long time, beyond Covid-19.”