A non-profit organisation dedicated to youth, Nazhoen Lamtoen, reached out to the 12-year-old girl, who gave birth in Samdrupjongkhar last month.

The organisation’s executive director, Thinley Tobgyel, said the moment they heard the news, they looked for the contact details of the girl and contacted her through her parents to assess her mental health and provide emotional support.

He said that during the counselling process, they found the girl and her parents need financial support and provided a minimal amount of Nu 10,000 to buy essential items. “The organization agreed to look after the child and also the girl’s educational needs.”

Thinley Tobgyel said they provide counselling to the girl every day through phone and video calls. “Visiting the place is not practical because of the pandemic.”

The minor in Samdrupjongkhar is not the only beneficiary of Nazhoen Lamtoen.

The organisation helped 590 children in difficult circumstances in Paro, Mongar, Zhemgang, Thimphu and Chukha so far.

According to the executive director, case managers in the five dzongkhags conduct survey and identify children in difficult circumstances every year.

He said the case managers also conduct a case study on each child in a difficult circumstance and provide long term support by helping the family members establish small businesses like restaurants and groceries.  “We ensure the family deposit Nu 2,000 from the business in the child’s account.”

Thinley Tobgyel said the support is rendered to prevent the children in difficult circumstances from coming into conflict with the law.

He said police records show that 99.9 percent of children convicted and serving a prison term in Youth Development and Rehabilitation Centre (YDRC) in Tsimasham comes from difficult circumstances.

The organisation also provides reintegration support for children, who complete their prison sentencing and start a new life. “If we fail to provide them the support, they commit another offence,” the executive director said.

He said that besides providing support to children in difficult circumstances and children in conflict with the law, they also conduct awareness, sensitisation workshop, and parenting programme with the community, dzongkhag and other stakeholders on a quarterly basis.

The organisation has a shelter for children who survived physical, sexual and emotional abuse and rescued by police and the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC).

Thinley Tobgyel said Save the Children funds 90 percent of the project activities and UNICEF and HELVETAS supports the remaining 10 percent . “People can contact us through our toll-free helpline number 1257 if they see needy children.”

Meanwhile, sources said the 12-year-old child in Samdrupjongkhar, who was mentally traumatised initially, is now in a stable condition.

“Her parents were supportive. The teachers of her school also provide counselling and assured support for her to continue her education,” a source said.

By Tashi Dema