Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing
Shaping children’s future is important. Often, however, more than school education and parents’ guidance, volunteerism contribute more in shaping children’s outlook.
In many schools, children need support—financially and emotionally. So the idea of Mom At School (MAS) was born, from Sonamgang middle secondary school (SMSS).
The aim was to provide equal opportunity to all children and provide them access to education. It still is the aim.
MAS is a good programme that has helped many students and the programme now has moved on to schools beyond SMSS.
In Trashigang, Benshingmo Primary School it is!
An eight-year-old girl of class I in Benshingmo primary school (PS) is an orphan. She, along with eight other students, got kira, tego, wonju, gho and everything that is needed for education.
The school’s principal said it was a special moment to see bright smiles among those students. Prior to the MAS’ help, he said, some students carried their books in plastic bags.
“Some couldn’t even have new school uniform,” he said.
Mom At School started in 2015. It was a teacher from Sonamgang MSS in Phuentsholing, Wangmo, who started the programme.
Initially, it was just the teachers in school, who contributed small amounts and helped the needy students. Teachers collected Nu 14,000. Then there were supporters from outside the school.
Wangmo then went to Phuentsholing lower secondary school (PLSS) and continued the programme. But in 2018, Wangmo resigned from PLSS and left for Australia. But she kept the programme alive.
The programme is getting more support.
Wangmo said that MAS was her dream and she wanted to make it big because children needed support to get to school. “That’s empowerment. We can’t leave empowerment to the system.”
Wangmo said that the programme keeps records of who does what and how much each individually contributes.
“There are students, who need books but can’t afford. They need shoes and uniforms but these demands are beyond their means. How do we address such problems, especially when we look at our future?” asked Wangmo.
“For us, even just small prayers are enough.”
There are challenges, of course. Sometimes, students do not appreciate the teachers and the programme that make their education possible. But that doesn’t deter MAS’s goals to help.
In June 2020, a board of trustees was formed to enable stability and smooth functioning of the programme. Members contribute Nu 12,000 each annually.
Tshewang Zangmo, in Thimphu, is a teacher. She is the programme’s overall coordinator.
Tshewang Zangmo said Mom At School had so far helped around 262 students.
“The number of students, who need help, will only increase,” Tshewang Lhamo said, adding that the number could rise up to 300 by the end of 2021.
“That’s why the programme’s very important.”
The programme provides stationeries, school fees, uniforms and other necessary items to students, who need such support.
Kuensel was able to get in touch with a 24-year old man, who is currently undergoing De-Suung training. Unable to fund his school after class X, he came to Phuentsholing looking for a job. Then he came across MAS.
“I studied class XI and XII with the programme’s help,” he said.
“I’m very thankful to the Mom At School and I wish to contribute to the programme one day.”
Another recipient MAS helped is a final year student at College of Science and Technology (CST) in Phuentsholing.
After scoring 67 percent in Class XII, she couldn’t continue without financial help. MAS supported her education.
“I’d like to contribute to MAS as a member someday,” she said.