… will also include single parents living with young children

Yangchen C Rinzin

Jigme Namgyal, a blind, had just returned from Phuentsholing when the government announced the lockdown.

He was running out of vegetables and he survived on the few vegetables he had until help arrived.

“The lockdown announcement was so confusing and I didn’t know what to do or where to go,” he said.

He felt lost.

Persons with disabilities were not taken into consideration in any of the interventions for lockdown they felt.

Many persons with disabilities especially those living alone found it increasingly difficult.

Although a few of them had movement passes to buy essentials items, they could not go out without a friend. The deaf could not communicate through phone. Many could not access online shopping and delivery services.

However, Ability Bhutan Society (ABS) managed to get approval to distribute essentials, vegetables and medicines who volunteered to help more than 35 persons with disabilities who needed immediate help.

ABS’s Executive Director Ugyen Wangchuk said that there were many persons that required help.

“Some were in a pathetic condition where they did not have food at home,” he said.

“Even if they manage to come out, they wouldn’t be able to maintain physical distance. Basically, they cannot practice health protocols.”   

ABS has been distributing essentials since the first day but could not reach all of them on the same day.

“We even helped those who had families since the family may contact other people. This would expose persons with disabilities who are more vulnerable.”

The ABS is also collecting details of those with disabilities to issue them special movement pass for their movement. So far they have recorded details of 75 individuals.  

Persons with disabilities and single parents living with young children will only have access to this card.

The special card will also be given to another category of people who cannot go outside themselves.

The person must come with an escort to use this special movement card. The escort person should carry the movement card that was already issued to the household.

The special movement card cannot be used on its own. It can be used with the other general movement card’s timing and zone reflected.

Those who require special movement card can call 1010 for registration. The officials attending to the call will help register and issue the card after verification.

Bhutan today has around 14,000 persons with disabilities.