Choki Wangmo | Tsirang

Rain or shine, Aganidhi Acharya and his 19-member team from lower Menchuna in Kilkhorthang, Tsirang are busy at work in Dophu Ney.

In the last six months, they constructed a toilet, kitchen, canopy, prayer stall, dug pits, installed dustbins and signboards, repainted statue, cleared overgrowths around the site, and hoisted prayer flags at the pilgrimage site which is revered by both Hindu and Buddhists faithful.

As the project implementation period ends this month, the team is eyeing the top three positions in the Mawong Yuetsen competition from among the 19 groups in Tsirang and Dagana.

They are giving a final touch to the beautification works at the sacred site.

Titled “Our Gewog has a Future”, Mawong Yuetsen piloted in these two dzongkhags by PRuDent “Project for Rural Development” and RENEW microfinance. It is a competitive campaign for active engagement in improving the quality of life in the villages.

Dophu Nye also known as Mahadev stan, Tsirang

Aum Sangay’s Homestay and Natural spring hot stone bath

Preservation of choeten, Tashilingtoed chiwog

According to PRuDent’s project coordinator, Tshering Wangmo, the competition would bring communities together to voluntarily work towards improving and developing the living conditions in rural areas, making them self-reliant, attractive, and stable. “This programme will be a competition among gewogs based on a specific theme every year.”

“Our village has a future” was the concept first started in Germany in 1961 to develop and improve the quality of life within the communities sustainably. It encourages creative ideas to make rural areas attractive through private initiatives to improve living conditions in rural areas–and if successful–be rewarded.

A total of 25 groups—seven from Tsirang and 19 from Dagana—are competing under this year’s theme: beautification and preservation of culture and tradition.

Participants have beautified roads, built resting places and disable-friendly footpaths, restored lakes, built recreational parks and research centre, beautified gewog administration offices, maintained spiritual places, built meeting places, restored ancestral homes, and developed walking trails.

A few groups have all the households from chiwogs participating in the competition while some have only family members. Each group has a minimum of five members. Some members voluntarily contributed financially to the group, while most of them used the locally available resources.

For example, Sangay and her family from Tsholingkhar in Tsirang, wants to convert their ancestral home into a homestay with a display of family heirloom. The family worked to open a bathhouse for a menchhu, believed to cure patients with diabetes and jaundice. The project, the family members believe, will not only help in preserving culture and tradition but will also help them earn income from visitors.

Tshering Wangmo said that a group of committee members from PRuDent, RENEW Microfinance, an official from each dzongkhag, and an external judge will evaluate the projects towards March end.  “The evaluation considers criteria like output quality, creativity, cooperation, benefits, efficiency, and sustainability among others.”

The winners will take cash prizes of Nu 1,20,000, Nu 70,000, and Nu 50,000.

Project for Rural Development (PRuDent) was established in 2019 through German Sparkassenstiftung for International Cooperation.