Profile: Aum Yangzom, 64, who spent her entire life, taking care of people as a nurse is now a farmer who spends her day feeding cattle in a farm in Samdrupgatshel, Dewathang.
She is a successful farmer along with her husband. They run a dairy farm of 15 cows.
Aum Yangzom is not only known for her successful dairy farm in Dewathang but for becoming a nurse at the Dewathang hospital despite being illiterate. She became a nurse in 1977 and retired to become a farmer in 2008.
She first worked as a translator that helped doctors and patients to communicate in Hindi when the present Dewathang hospital was managed by project DANTAK. She was the only person in the area who was well versed in Hindi then. She earned Nu 90 in a month.
She was known for her motivation, eagerness and curiosity. While serving as a translator she took her own initiative to watch and learn basic work of a nurse like giving injections, checking of blood pressure, and names of equipment used in the operation theatre simply out of passion.
Impressed with her performance within a short span of time, and in appreciation of her hard work, the then DANTAK chief issued a certificate to acknowledge her work and to certify that she is a trained nurse.
“This helped me so much because I got to serve people as a nurse although I was the only illiterate nurse in the hospital,” she said. “Whatever I learned was practical and experience based with no theory included, I used to memorise the names of the medicines based on the first letter.”
In 1980 she was certified as an assistant nurse in Thimphu after a training. Later she began to work as a midwife.
“I still remember that apart from me, there were three other illiterate nurses there for the training,” she said. “I was very embarrassed because they could at least write a few words while I couldn’t even read a single word. But my determination to become a nurse motivated and kept me going.”
She served as a nurse for almost 30 years and retired at the age of 56. Since then she has been living in her village.
“Then, it was the patients that I helped feed and now it’s the cow I feed. Sitting idle was never a part of me, I love what I do now as much as I loved my nurse job.”
Aum Yangzom said one should always have faith in god, work hard, love one’s job, and not dwell on one’s circumstances if you are poor. She added that it is important that one doesn’t think about profit before starting anything.
“I still remember how to stitch a cut or which medicine to apply. I often treat myself or do the dressing when I or my husband get a minor cut.”
Just as Aum Yangzom is known for being a hard-working farmer, her husband Bhim Bahadhur Karki, 56, is also known as a dynamic farmer. He has received an award in recognition for his contributions towards achieving food self-sufficiency from His Majesty The King. He is also a secretary to the Dewathang milk marketing group.
Called the Tashi Gongphel Dairy Farm, they sell almost 40 litres of milk everyday earning Nu 40,000 in a month on average, from which they have cleared a loan of Nu 6 million (60 lakhs). They even own two buildings now. They also earn from selling composed cow dung manure for Nu 10 per kilogram.
They have seven children.
“If we work hard, farming is more sustainable than a white-collar job. People often question why we work at this age instead of going for retreat, but what they don’t understand is one should not stop doing what they like, of course, we do recite prayers,” Bhim Bahadhur said.
They even have a mango orchard and 15 acres of improved pastureland to feed their cattle because they don’t believe in grazing.
He said farming is difficult but with his wife beside him nothing is impossible.
Today they are a source of inspiration for many communities inside and outside Dewathang, people from different professions come to visit their farm, which is considered a showcase for a successful dairy farm that uses an improvised management system.
At 3pm everyday, Aum Yangzom goes to feed their cattle. Aum Yangzom closes her main door and heads to the cattle shed located below their house.
“You see this is my life now. I’ve asked my children and husband to bury my nurse uniforms with me, which I still have neatly saved in my cupboard,” she said, smiling.
Yangchen C Rinzin | Samdrupjongkhar