Community: One doesn’t have to be a millionaire to change someone’s life.

A group of five young girls studying at Dr Tobgyel School have been doing something extraordinary. They have brought happiness to 17 families living in Dechencholing, Thimphu.

It was on September 20 when the girls decided to donate rice, vegetables, clothes and groceries to the families worth more than Nu 15,000, which the girls collected through donations from various shops and offices in Thimphu. They were soon joined by three other boys from the school.

Ash Maya, 26, can still vividly recollect the girls walking up to her doorstep. To her disbelief, the girls started distributing the groceries and started cooking for her and other families.

“I was shocked to see such kindness in these young girls. They cooked and ate with us. I still feel like they are part of our family. I miss seeing them,” the mother of three said. “More than anything, I’m happy for the kindness they have shown to all of us.”

This was the first kind of gesture the families had received so far, Ash Maya said as she sold the few chips laid out on the threadbare carpet. She has been selling chips, domas and chocolates along the road towards Dechenphug lhakhang, only during weekends, hoping to earn extra cash for her family.

Ash Maya earns Nu 6,450 monthly. Her mother is also a municipal worker. Her eldest son goes to school while her two younger children stay home.

“It is a difficult life as we don’t earn much and it made a huge difference when the girls helped us out,” she said echoing the sentiments of every family living in that vicinity.

The families have been living there for about seven years. They get water supply from a pond located above their home, which poses a threat during summer as the water gets contaminated the most during that season, families said.

“Life is difficult, maybe for others as well, but we are happy that people are willing to help us and others in such situation,” Phub Rani, 48, mother of Ash Maya said.

Leader of the group and also the most talkative, Selden Tshomo Rinchen, 14, said it was the hope of spreading the message of peace that inspired the group to undertake such initiative.

“We just wanted to make their lives better in some ways and we are happy that we could help them. We want to help more people in the future,” Selden Tshomo Rinchen said.

The girls said they want to be change-makers in their society.

You don’t have to be old enough to bring a change in someone’s life, Leesa Lham, 14, said. “I feel happy and proud that I could help these families in some ways.”

The girls are also the Messengers of Peace, a group dedicated towards promoting peace within them and their society through undertaking small and big projects.

“When we make others happy, we feel happy too,” Selden Tshomo Rinchen said. “I feel like I’ve become more confident and peaceful knowing the fact that I helped others. I hope to do this for life.”

The girls encourage people to come out and donate for such projects. “Some people are reluctant to give out donations. We hope that now more people will join in our efforts and help others that are in need.”

The girls are planning to spread their initiative to Paro this winter.

Thinley Zangmo