Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing
As a symbolic tendrel (auspicious gesture) on His Majesty The King turning 40 this year, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering yesterday handed over temporary shelters built on the command of His Majesty to 40 families at Amochhu in Phuentsholing.
The selected families were families with large members, who had been living in schools in Phuentsholing, after they were evacuated from Jaigaon after the border got sealed on March 23, following the new coronavirus pandemic.
About 165 members of the 40 families will stay in the temporary shelters.
Under His Majesty The King’s command, the Royal Bhutan Army started the construction of the prefabricated temporary shelters at Amochhu on March 28. A total of 1,000 units have been constructed as temporary shelters for Bhutanese who were living across the border before gates were sealed.
The prefabricated shelters built in a record time have two neat rooms with toilet and kitchen. After the parents opened the door to their new temporary homes, children jubilantly engaged themselves around the surrounding that is laid with gravels.
The recipients, meanwhile, expressed their deepest gratitude to His Majesty The King.
A class five student, Tshering Yangki Om, 11, said she has now a home even if it was for a few months. Tshering has two siblings and her father is a taxi driver.
“I would like to thank my King for this gift of home,” she said.
Sonam Lhazom, 12, a class six student said that she had seen His Majesty The King travelling to all the places for the safety of the people. “I would like to thank my King for this Kidu,” she said.
When other families were busy arranging their belongings in their new homes, Sonam Lhazom’s father, Chimi Wangdi had lit a butter lamp and chanted a ritual mantra. It was to welcome the family.
Prior to being evacuated to a school, Chimi Wangdi, a driver in one of the industries in Pasakha, said he had been living in Jaigaon for nine years. He was paying Nu 4,000 as rent every month.
“I feel so safe here,” he said. “I don’t know how to express my gratitude to my King.”
Rinzin Thinley, a taxi driver said they also received extra care while staying in the schools. “There are no words to express our gratitude for this shelter,” he said. Another recipient, Tenzin Tshomo, 34, said they received vegetables while they were sheltered in the school. Even bottled drinking water was provided.
Meanwhile, many families said the only problem was that most of their belongings were left in Jaigaon.
However, the Covid-19 Task Force is planning to facilitate in bringing their belongings. It will depend on the lockdown situation across the border.
Addressing the gathering yesterday, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said the whole world was suffering due to the Covid-19 pandemic with some losing jobs, some going hungry and some not getting spaces in hospitals and crematoriums.
“Bhutan is truly blessed. We all know this is because of the deep concerns from His Majesty The King himself,” Lyonchhen said.
Lyonchhen said that The King understood people’s problems at the individual level and that different ideas and solutions have been put in place to prevent the virus.
“It is as if we don’t have Covid-19,” he said.
Lyonchhen meanwhile encouraged people to move out to better places if they got the opportunity. Further, he said having many people in one area could result in problems. “Other diseases may come into the community. Some may take up to profiteering and start selling unwanted things. Children may get sick playing in the water,” he said.
From the 40 families, who received the shelters, 88 were female and 77 male. A total of 48 were unemployed, 26 are employees with private companies, and one civil servant. There are 22 children below six.
The remaining households will receive their temporary shelters in the next few days. There are 1,999 families that comprise more than 5,000 Bhutanese, who were living across the border.