Ever since Namgay from Mongar joined Draktsho Vocational Center for special children in Kanglung, Trashigang, it has been a challenge for him to cope up with lessons at his new school.
An accident caused a serious leg injury to 24-year old Sangay and life has never been the same again.
In the midst of helplessness, Namgay found hope in an organization called Draktsho. He was asked to choose a field of interest for training and was immediately taken in.
Today, Namgay is learning woodcarving and painting with his friends with a hope to earn for his family in the future.
Like Namgay, the number of disabled students joining the Draktsho East Center in Trashigang has been increasing over the years. The center was established in 2010 with less than 30 students but today, the number of students has crossed over 70.
According to the principal of Draktsho East, Karma Garab Dorji, the number of students joining the institution has increased due to the advocacy campaign provided by the Draktsho institute last year.
He said that due to lack of awareness, some parents still believe that people with special needs should be kept at home. “The advocacy campaign has helped some parents to decide to send their children with special needs to the center.”
Officials from the center visited homes in targeted villages under five eastern districts. They went door to door to sensitize parents and physically challenged people on the services offered by the center.
“After visiting three to four gewogs, we came to know that most parents do not have idea regarding the services provided by Draktsho institute,” he said. “After creating awareness, we had positive response from parents and they are willing to send their children with disabilities to our institute.”
Today, the institute provides training on tailoring, embroidery, woodcarving, traditional art and painting, weaving, knitting, souvenir weaving and pre-vocational training.
Apart from such trainings, though physically and mentally challenged, the students learn and perform activities like any other student in the schools. The students also learn subjects like English, Dzongkha and Mathematics.
One of the instructors said, “As the number of the students increases yearly, it is challenging as we are not able to give equal time and attention to every student and while teaching, some of them take time to catch up.”
However, lack of financial support has remained as one of the biggest challenges for Draktsho today. Karma Garab Dorji said that with increasing enrollment rates at the center, there was a pressure on existing facilities and space.
Draktsho generates its own funds and also receives donations from locals and international donors. Meanwhile, the center also provides boarding facilities and supports students to be independent in the future.
Jigme Wangchen from Kanglung. T/gang