Chhimi Dema 

Almost a year after a Facebook page ‘Humans of Thimphu’ started featuring stories of struggle, love, grief, passion, fear, and joy from people in Thimphu, it has been learnt there are six young people working tirelessly behind the scenes to tell these stories.

The page was launched on October 23, 2020, and so far, it has featured more than 269 stories as of yesterday. The page has about 45,000 likes on Facebook and about 7,300 followers on Instagram.

The young people running the page are passionate about writing. Some are university students and some work part-time in Thimphu. They strive to tell stories about people from diverse social backgrounds.

The page was started by Tandin Phurbz and Damchoe Yonten. Later, Tshering Deki, Dechen Wangdi, Desel Pek Dorji, and Ayeshiwini Lama joined the team.

Damchoe Yonten, 22, is from Trashiyangtse and works as a junior user experience designer at digital platform developer SELISE, in Thimphu TechPark.

He said it is a passion for storytelling that motivated him to work with the team. “Everyone brings different skills to the table, and it all fits like a puzzle.”

Tshering Deki, 24, is a content writer for the page and works in Thailand.

She said most of the stories they cover are from ordinary people, but the stories, no matter how simple they are, deliver an important reminder that there are others who struggle in life.

“I have always loved writing stories on social media,” said member Dechen Wangdi.

He is a freelance content creator.

“There were many times when the stories we heard moved us,” he said. “Some people are baring their souls to us, but sometimes, we have to go the extra mile to get a story.”

Tandin Phurbz is a photographer and a videographer, and Desel Pek Dorji is a university student.

The editor, Ayeshiwini Lama, said it is liberating to share stories. “Humans of Thimphu shares stories from ordinary people.”

The team said that they face challenges in convincing people to share their stories, and with sustaining themselves.

Ayeshwini said it is difficult for people to open up about stories that are sensitive, or involve topics that are not discussed in society.

“We do not have full-time jobs and we think about how we can make money to sustain ourselves,” said Ayeshwini.

The team works in paid collaboration to create advocacy and launch campaigns.

Another challenge for the team is that they sometimes receive complaints from family members of featured individuals, even with consent from the individuals themselves.

Dechen Wangdi said they have had to change stories many times because they received complaints from the featured person’s family. 

He said they are still unclear about whether people could take action against them even with consent from a featured person.

Ayeshwini said they try to bring topics that are not usually talked about. “When a story like that is taken down, we also remove the chance of having that conversation started.”

The content writers said that there is no definite method to look for people to share their stories. People share stories with them in restaurants, taxis, or conferences.

The initiative, however, is appreciated. They receive messages from people who want to share their stories.

Edited by Tashi Dema