Building a future with productive citizens
Try as you may, we cannot escape from the realities of the emerging youth issues in the society today. From drug- and alcohol-related problems to the ever-growing youth unemployment rates, young people today are at the front and centre of great shifts.
Spearheading the role to address these emerging challenges, the Youth Development Fund (YDF) has come a long way in aiding the needy. It was in 1998 when His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo commanded the establishment of a youth fund. YDF came to existence a year later as one of the first Non-Governmental Organisations with special focus to address youth issues in the country.
With a vision to groom and pave path a for productive citizens, YDF has initiated several programmes over the past 18 years. Under the guidance of the President Her Majesty Gyalyum Tshering Pem Wangchuck and Vice President Her Royal Highness Princess Chimi Yangzom Wangchuck, the organisation supports activities such as building leadership skills, drug rehabilitation, special education, basic skills and vocational trainings, and advocacy research and education.
Drug education and rehabilitation programme
There is no single age group of people more affected by alcohol and drugs than the youth. With exposure to western culture with the introduction of television and the Internet, youth today are more mobile and, as a result, are exposed to drugs and alcohol.
YDF has been at the forefront when it comes to dealing with vulnerable youth affiliated with drugs and alcohol addiction. To create a conducive environment for youth with addiction issues, the organisation has started drop-in-centres for counselling. Rehabilitation and treatment centres for those men and women who want to turn a new leaf have also been introduced in Thimphu.
The programme aims to create awareness on drugs and alcohol and to reach out to the alcohol and drug dependent youth and their families. It also aims to provide support for youth addicts and to motivate them to seek treatment and rehabilitation.
Since its inception in 2004, the programme has rehabilitated over 2,000 young substance abusers.
Empowerment for employment programme
Unemployment in Bhutan is on the rise, especially among the youth. According to the 13th National Labour Force Survey 2015, 4,503 youth are unemployed.
To address the sprawling issue of youth unemployment YDF has introduced various skills development programmes through training establishments like the Nazhoen Pelri Skills Training Centre (NPSTC), My Gakidh Village project, and short-term skills training in vocational trades and entrepreneurship.
Introduced in 2005 to create opportunities for vulnerable girls, the NPSTC has trained, employed and empowered 82 young women in entrepreneurial art. The graduates from the centre are today employed as Non-Formal Education instructors and in NGOs and tailoring units. A few have started their own businesses.
The organisation has also secured employment for over 500 recovering addicts.
In order to provide education opportunities to economically disadvantaged children in regions with low literacy rates and to reduce the number of school dropouts, YDF also provides numerous scholarships to students every year.
Today more than 400 students are pursuing their basic and undergraduate studies as beneficiaries of the various scholarships provided by the organisation.
Sponsor a monk programme
Religion plays an integral part in Bhutan. Recognising the lack of budgetary support to the little novice monks entering the clergy, YDF has started the Sponsor a Monk programme to meet the needs of young monks in monasteries across Bhutan.
The first monastery sponsored under the programme was Dechen Phodrang Monastic School in Thimphu, which currently houses more than 300 young Buddhist monks.
Under the programme, a sponsor provides USD12 (Nu 500) every month for an individual monk. So far, more than 1,200 monks at eight monasteries in six dzongkhags have benefitted from the programme.
Youth participation and child protection programme
YDF conducts timely activities to engage and empower young people through leadership, life skills, livelihood opportunities, training, advocacy, and community services through volunteerism.
Under the programme, Young Volunteers In Action (Y-VIA) is an active network of young people involved in community services. Y-VIAs provides youth perspectives in youth development activities and community-based programmes. Their main activities involve voluntary services, peer help, outreach and provide advocacy, fundraising, research and community mapping, networking, capacity building and shaping youth policy.
The target groups of the Y-VIA include in-school, out-of-school, unemployed, drug-dependent, differently-abled youth, and youth in difficult circumstances, and those who are in conflict with the law.
More than 5,000 youth and adolescents across the country are currently engaged as Young Volunteers in Action.
The Youth Development Fund (YDF) was established on June 16, 1999, a year after His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo commanded that a youth fund be established.
YDF registered itself as a Civil Society Organisation in July 2010.
Vision: A better today, a brighter tomorrow for the youth of Bhutan.
Mission: YDF nurtures and enhances the self-worth of young people to help them create a happy future for themselves amidst a changing environment.
To establish a sustainable funding mechanism within Bhutan so that youth development and empowerment activities can be undertaken, now and in the future.
To bridge the gap through need-based youth development programmes with sustainable resource mobilisation and strategic partnerships focusing on education, employment, youth participation, child protection and drug rehabilitation services.
To provide grant management services to national and international donors providing assistance for youth development activities, targeting all segments of the youth population in Bhutan but in particular focusing on disadvantaged youth such as the youth with disabilities, early school leavers, youth in conflict with the law, unemployed youth and youth from low-income families.
To launch and maintain a sustainable and innovative programmes in areas where there are inadequate interventions either by the government or civil society.
To become a point of reference for youth-related issues and influence policy-making.
With support from Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation and Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD)