A group of women are maintaining the farm road that leads to their village

Community: With kiras hiked up above their ankles and wearing flip flops, more than 20 women armed with spades are slicing stones and making gravel.

The gravel is then poured into potholes on the farm road that leads to Gonpawong-Bapta chiwog in Decheling gewog.

The women are volunteers of a group that was formed by gewog officials to carry out routine maintenance of the farm road.

With the men of the chiwog occupied in the fields farming or attending to other important work, the women decided to come forward to take up the arduous task of maintaining the farm road.

The Decheling farm road is often blocked because of landslides especially during the monsoon. Sometimes, the road remains closed for days and people have to walk for more than two hours from Nganglam dungkhag.

As they dig soil along the farm road to fill up the large potholes under a scorching sun, the women show no sign of fatigue.  There are no complaints.

The women say they are happy to volunteer because it’s the villagers who use the road after all.

The women said they came forward because men are busy with other work. They pointed out that instead of always complaining to the government they should take up the work. “I think it’s high time we maintain our own roads if the damages are not major and we don’t complain to gewog officials for everything,” Sonam, a farmer said. “Of course, it’s a tiring job but still when in a group, everything is easier.”

Another woman said they are hoping that they will continue to provide the service and keep the group alive with the help of gewog officials.

A few travellers attributed the lack of potholes and proper drainage constructed to the hard work of women.

Meanwhile, the gewog administrative officer Pema Tenzin said the group was formed in accordance with the farm road user group guidelines 2013, in which it is mentioned that responsibility of maintaining farm roads should be handed over to communities.

“It was good to see them coming forward because they have realised the importance of maintenance,” he said.  “This is a good response where now they come up with different ideas on how to take care of and maintain the road.”

The gewog has two such groups.

Yangchen C Rinzin | Nganglam