22 households in Phumzur and Jangbi are beneficiaries of this phase of the foundation’s housing project

Tarayana: The remote Monpa village of Phumzur in Trongsa is seeing a lot of constructions lately.

A father of two, Ngenthi, is digging the foundation to construct a new house for his family.  He is planning to add a double storied stonemason house to the existing wooden shingle hut where the family currently resides in.

The nearest road to Phumzur is over four hours walk and the village still relies on erratic solar panels for electricity.  For shopping, the villagers walk for a day to Tongtophay across the Mangdechhu.

The construction of stonemason homes for the 14 households is a Tarayana Foundation project, initiated to enable the community to build better and safer homes.  The remaining eight households, who migrated to Jangbi, are also building houses under the project’s assistance.

Ngenthi’s family lived in a two-storied traditional house, but its condition dilapidated over the years and the family had to move out to a small temporary hut. “I couldn’t afford to rebuild the house because of lack of money,” Ngenthi said.

He said that, save for a handful, most of the houses in Monpa villages came down after the villagers were unable to repair the wooden shingle roof.

Being the only male member in the family, it was also difficult to construct a house for those like Ngenthi.

“There’ll be no one to work in the farm if I go to work in construction sites to earn and construct a house,” Ngenthi said.

But now the community has help, and those like Ngenthi are digging up the base of the ancestral house from its rubbles to construct new homes.

Langthel gup, Lham Dorji, said the project has benefitted the disadvantaged Monpa community.

Tarayana is paying for a stonemason and a carpenter for every household, besides providing free corrugated galvanised sheets, and fuel for the power chain to saw timber.

Just below Ngenthi’s site, a single storied house has already been completed.  Nearby, Narting is busy with woodwork for another house, whose foundation is waiting for walls to take off.

According to Tarayana Foundation’s field officer, Namgay, all 22 households are availing the project’s assistance to build a shelter in Phumzur.

Under the same project, Tarayana also constructed 46 houses for the disadvantaged communities of Wamling and Jangbi. “Almost all these houses in Jangbi and Wamling are completed now,” Namgay said.

The field officer said the project was initiated to improve the livelihood of the indigenous communities of the Black Mountain range.

“Since, safe, clean and strong shelter is required to improve livelihoods, the construction of new houses will also secure hygiene and sanitation for the community,” Namgay said.

About three houses have been completed in Phumzur to date. “Even Kupdra, which is at least further six hours walk from Phumzur, also completed constructing a house,” Chimi Rinzin from Jangbi said.

Staying in huts has its risks.  Recently, a hut in Phumzur was razed to the ground.  No one got hurt. “Nothing could be salvaged,” Chimi Rinzin said.

Although all 14 households are planning to complete the houses by May, labour shortage is hindering work progress. “Getting labour is difficult, because everyone’s engaged in the construction,” Ngenthi said.

By Tempa Wangdi, Langthel