The origin of Remoen began in October 2013 when executive director and founder, Karma Yangdon, invited her friends from Austria and Germany to visit the remote areas of Bhutan. Their journey took them to several monasteries, temples, and schools.
During their stop in Bumthang, they met the head abbot of Tharpaling monastery, Changtrul Rinpoche who welcomed them warmly with traditional butter tea.
“Rinpoche was fluent in English. He was able to communicate the problems faced by his institute to my friends,” Karma Yangdon said.
Rinpoche expressed his concern that monks were lagging behind in terms of exposure to the modern world as they lacked access to modern education. “Once the monks graduated from the monasteries, they were equipped with only Buddhist teachings and had no skill to interact with outsiders,” she said.
Their journey took them to Khaling. There, they visited the school for the visually impaired and met a 10-year-old boy with genetic deformation. Seeing the humble and physically challenged children from different places left a big impact on the visitors.
Karma Yangdon, being a mother and a sister to six younger siblings felt the needs of the children. “I was so touched and decided to help them by reaching donors within and outside Bhutan to support youths.”
Her first and immediate move, she said was to donate uniform for the students of Pangtokha Primary School, Trashiyangtse with her sister who was a businesswoman as the sponsor.
This was how the organisation was named Remoen – ‘Hope for the Youth’. It was formally registered as a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) with the Civil Society Organisation Authority on November 10, 2014.
The name Remoen is a shortened version of two Bhutanese words- ‘rewa dang moenlam’ which means hope and wishes, prayers, aspirations for the youth. “The purpose of Remoen is to help the children in remote villages with education and to make them stand on their own feet. In today’s world, no education means no life,” Karma Yangdon said.
With the objective of supporting underprivileged youths by providing basic necessities and facilities for a healthier life, Remoen so far has worked on three projects, two of which are already completed.
Administrative and Finance officer of Remoen, Thinley Jamtsho, said the projects under Remoen are funded by donors. “To choose a project, we look at the need and relevancy. Sometimes we write to the donors with proposals from the beneficiaries.”
Remoen’s first and ongoing project is supporting the monks of Tharpaling monastery, Bumthang. The monastery was built in the 14th century by Kuenphen Longchenpa.
At the request of Changtrul Rinpoche, Remoen took up the project with financial support from UNESCO Foundation-Education for Children in Need, Germany through HOPE87, Austria.
The project benefitting about 100 monks has provided two teachers and equipments to educate the monks on the basics of computer and English language.
According to HOPE87 activity report October 2015-september 2016, the language classes are designed to help master reading, listening, and speaking English, IT courses to give learners without previous computer experience an introduction to computing.
Thinley Jamtsho said when the monks graduate from the monastery, they do not have much confidence as they do not know English.
He said that through the project, Remoen provided 10 desktops, stationery and furniture in 2014. “More monks joined the monastery and the computers were not enough. Therefore, on request from the monastery, we talked with the donors and supplied the monastery with four more computers this year.”
As Bumthang is cold, the organisation has also provided the monastery with three water heaters with the capacity of 250 litres each. “Initially, the project was for two years, but we got an extension of one year until the March of next year.”
Remoen also provided food supplies to 164 students of Nimtola Primary School, Dagana during the windstorm in 2015. The windstorm had damaged many houses and the school. Supported with funds from HOPE87, Austria, Remoen supplied the school with 4,500kg rice, and 360 litres of cooking oil enough for about six months.
The third project of Remoen was a success when a basketball court along with uniforms, shoes, and stockings were handed over to Kengkhar Lower Secondery School, Mongar in December 2016. The project was funded by the Ministry of Sports, Vienna, Austria.
Karma Yangdon said that Remoen has been able to sustain thus far. “But if we do not get any donors for the proposed Project, it will be difficult for us to sustain.”
Thinley Jamtsho said that the organisation’s biggest challenge is convincing donors to help with the projects.
He said being new and small, the organisation faces difficulties obtaining fund for the projects. “It is difficult to sustain if we do not get donors for the projects.” He added: “We need to have man power in the projects and the organisation. If we have no manpower, we can’t do much individually.”
The organisation is working on proposals to help underprivileged youths.