Yangyel Lhaden 

RENEW, in collaboration with international agencies, trained about 300 vulnerable people to develop their human resource capacity in its vocational training centre at Gawailing Happy Home in Wangsisina.

The training includes professional caregiving, weaving, baking, tailoring, recycling, floriculture, and mushroom cultivation.

Fourteen women are being trained for home care and hospitality.  It was conducted in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and labour ministry.

The training started on February 17 and most of the trainees are returnees from the Middle East and women who lost jobs during the pandemic.

The training aims to give wholesome training to women, which covers physical, intellectual, mental, educative programmes, and life skills other than home care and hospitality.  The participants will also be trained in old age caregiving.

In the home care, participants will be trained to use different home appliances, basic cooking, baking and gardening.

At the end of the training, participants are expected to gain value and professionalism for a better scope in the job market at homes or hotels.

RENEW’s specialist in livelihood department, Tashi Wangmo, said that it was a timely intervention, as many young girls from villages were exploited and many women trafficked to the Middle East.

She said that with this training, participants would also be educated on legal aspects.

A trainee, who returned from Iraq in September last year, said she worked at a house from dusk till dawn and this training equipped her with skills to work efficiently.

Another participant, another returnee from Iraq, said that the certificate of recognition was important. “I want to work in hotels.”

In another group, nine women and six men received training to grow shitake and oyster mushrooms.

They received hands-on training to spawn logs and inoculate straw for mushroom cultivation.  They also received financial literacy training.

A trainee, Singay Dorji, who is a laid-off employee from tourism sector, said he would start a shitake mushroom cultivation business. “I’m hopeful I can start mushroom export business in the future.”

A returnee from Iraq, Tshering Dema, said she wants to start mushroom cultivation.

She has availed floriculture, mushroom, and recycling trainings from the centre.

RENEW organised the training with support from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Bhutan Office and National Mushroom Centre (NMC).

JICA’s chief representative, Kozo Watanabe, said the aim of the training was to equip the trainees to start their own mushroom growing business as entrepreneurs.

While some participants are willing to start shitake business, most are doubtful if they can start a mushroom business, as they do not have capital investment, it involves risk and the training duration was short.

RENEW’s interim executive director, Tshering Dolkar, said interested participants could avail the organisation’s microfinance loan. “We’ll guide them with loan schemes.”

Kozo Watanabe said they look forward to continue their collaboration with RENEW, National Commission for Women and Children, and NMC.

A trainee, Sonam Dema, said cultivating mushroom was a complex science, which needed expertise. “We received training to cultivate mushrooms on a low-budget and I look forward to build a home for mushrooms with mud.”

Some participants said the training should be conducted for a longer duration, as they spent most of the time carrying logs from the forest.

On the closing of the eight-day training on February 19, the participants promised to gift the first harvest of mushrooms to JICA office as a token of gratitude.

Kozo Watanabe instead asked them to have shamu datse.