Two students from two different schools in Phuentsholing, who returned Nu 49,000 they found in the street received recognition from their respective schools yesterday.

Pema Choki, 18, of Phuentsholing Higher Secondary School (PHSS) and Tandin Wangchuk, 19, of Norbu Academy, both Class XII (commerce) students had found a plastic bag with cash inside while returning from tuition classes on the evening of May 19 near Centenial Hotel at Lower Market.

They called the police and handed over the cash to the rightful owner.

PHSS principal Yangki Dem awarded Pema Choki a “certificate of appreciation” in the morning assembly. She was also given some cash as reward.

“I heard about it on Sunday as it was all over the Facebook,” the principal said. “I decided on the spot to do something and acknowledge the student’s gesture.”

Yangki Dem said she did not even have time to discuss about it with the teachers. At the morning assembly yesterday, Pema Choki was offered khaddar and an appreciation certificate.

“I also haven’t yet sat with Pema Choki personally to talk,” the principal said as the student is having a test soon. “After the test is over, I will meet her again.”

PHSS principal also said students such as Pema Choki are nation’s future leaders. She is the right role model for other students.

Pema Choki was nervous and overwhelmed when Kuensel met her yesterday. “We were really nervous when we saw a plastic full of money in it,” she said.

She said they ended up dialing the ambulance emergency number 112 instead of police emergency number 113. The hospital staff gave them the correct number, she added.

“I wouldn’t take the money home because I would feel guilty for the rest of my life,” she said. “Anyone who loses money would go through a lot and I cannot handle that.”

Pema Choki said she felt good returning the money to the owner. “He must be happy,” she said.

Pema Choki is from Tsimakha in Bjachhog gewog, Chukha. Her father works at BPC in Phuentsholing and her mother is a housewife.

At Norbu Academy, a private school located at Rinchending, the school principal also acknowledged Tandin Wangchuk at the morning assembly. Later in the afternoon, the school proprietor offered khaddar to the student and handed him some cash as appreciation.

Tandin Wangchuk said he saw the money first.

“We had departed with other tuition friends and were walking home,” he said. “I saw a Nu 50 note at first.”

However, as he tried to pick the note, he said he was surprised that it was a plastic bag full of money. They stayed there for more than 10 minutes waiting for the owner to come and called police when nobody turned up, he added.

“I was really scared after seeing the money,” Tandin Wangchuk said, adding he was also scared while taking the money to the police. “What if somebody snatched it from us?”

Tandin Wangchuk said the school’s appreciation has come as mixed feelings. Sudden attention made him embarrassed but it has made him proud.

“My father would have never forgiven me if I had taken the money home,” he said.

Tandin Wangchuk is from Khoma in Lhuentse. He stays with his father, who is a carpenter.

The owner of the money, Tshewang Rinzin, 56, a former roads engineer said he was shocked when he learnt that he had lost the money.

“I searched but couldn’t find the cash,” he said. “I didn’t expect that I would get the money back.”

Sharing with Kuensel that the money belonged to his company, Tshewang Rinzin said it was equally shocking for him when he received a call inquiring of his lost money.

“I have my highest gratitude to these children,” he said. “I couldn’t do much for them but I would like to meet them in the future again and see if I can help them.”

Police officials in Phuentsholing said that a bank slip inside the plastic helped them identify the rightful owner of the lost money.

“He was able to provide all the correct details about the cash,” a police official said. “These students had not even opened the plastic bag.”

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing