Yangyel Lhaden 

De-suups, who beat the harsh winter cold to ensure people do not breach lockdown protocols, say they are taking challenges as experience and enjoy their duty.

A De-suup, Namgay Lhamo, said that  the work kept her engaged.

She returned from Kuwait last year when the Covid-19 cases were soaring there. “If I stayed at home without work, I would be depressed.”

She wears four layers of clothing and three socks to go out for patrolling.

Thimphu has 15 super zones and 47 sub-zones including four point of entry at Chamina, Tshaluna, Lhotshaykha, and Helela. De-suups help police conduct the patrolling.

De-suups patrolling Hejo, Samtenling, and Langjopakha stay in Zilukha Middle Secondary School. Although people donated heaters, they could not make use of it, as the electricity load capacity is low.

About 11 De-suups share a room and they do not get enough sleep, as they have different duty shifts. “We keep disturbing each other,” a De-suup said.

Dogs posed challenges in the initial days of the lockdown but Namgay Lhamo said even dogs were used to seeing them, as it did not attack them anymore.

De-suups also said making people follow lockdown protocol was not easy, as people challenged them. They say demeaning post about De-suups on social media site from fake accounts disheartened them but they would perform their duty.

Namgay Lhamo, however, said that there were people who offered them food and conveyed words of appreciation.

She said they were not allowed to take anything from people. “When people show us such gestures, it keeps us going forward.”

Another De-suup, Sangay Choden, said patrolling at night was difficult but it was much better than the first days of lockdown as for night duty fire wood was provided for those guarding hot spot buildings.

De-suups had to do duty for eight hours at the initial days of the lockdown. Works doubled when shops opened. But now, more De-suups are deployed and they conduct duty for six hours to patrol, guard hot spot buildings and shops.

Meanwhile, De-suups working at 1010 hotline said they faced mental challenge.

A DeSuup, Sonam Tobgay, said that since 1010 was a help desk, people complains which brought a lot of negativity. “But helping people overpowers the negativity.”

Another De-suup, Chimmi Dema, said that they needed to be flexible with any shift they were assigned for the day and had to keep calm and talk nicely to even derogatory remarks. “We understand everyone is frustrated and when we can calm them and direct them to relevant agencies we feel proud.”

During the first few days of lockdown, 1010 got around 1,000 calls a day and on average they receive between 700 and 800 calls daily. 1010 functions round the clock with about 70 De-suups divided into three shifts.

One of the De-suups said that people had 101 problems but there was no solution to every problem. “At our will and capacity, we are able to solve about 50 percent of their problems.”

Sonam Tobgay said that being able to help people in need brought satisfaction and happiness to them.