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Well-wishers help couple by the river

After Business Bhutan ran a story about an ill couple who were fated to meet by chance and made their home, a shanty, by the Thimphu River earlier this year, they have received donations in cash and kind from many sympathizers.

The story which was posted on the paper’s Facebook page had hundreds reacting, commenting and inquiring about the couple.

Earlier, Ugyen Dorji, 39 and his wife, Tshering Lhamo of the same age had camped by the river, living in a shelter of carton and sackcloth, but now, after people came forward to help, they have shifted to a comparatively better location below the highway, just a little above where they were staying before.

It has been almost a month since the two shifted to this location. The new shelter has been upgraded to raw materials of tarpaulin and ply wood.

Ugyen Dorji from Chokor, Bumthang and Tshering Lhamo from Yalang, Trashiyangtse were fated to meet in the face of tragedy, loss and hardships.

Both were undergoing treatment at Thimphu Hospital and had nowhere to go when they met at the National Memorial Chorten and decided to stay together.

Tshering Lhamo said that they received cash donations and also blankets, mattresses, tarpaulin and rations.

“We are grateful for all the help,” she smiles.

She said their new shelter is sturdier and it does not leak unlike the one earlier.

According to Ugyen Dorji, the police visited them many times warning them not to stay along the river since monsoon was nearing and the river could swell anytime posing threats to their lives and the little they had.

Heeding the warnings, the couple requested the contractor who is currently constructing a footpath along the highway, if they could stay beside the roadside temporarily.

Asked about their health they said compared to before, they are already feeling better.

Ugyen Dorji said that they intended to return to the village but since he has to visit the hospital for monthly checkups and collect medicine, they decided to stay back for now.

“Traveling back and forth from the village to Thimphu will be cumbersome and expensive,” he said, “And my medicine is available only in Thimphu Hospital.”

Meanwhile, to make ends meet, Ugyen Dorji continues to perform rituals while his better half weaves and sells cloths.

The couple no longer uses river water for consumption as they now have access to drinking water. They will leave the Capital once their health improves.

Ugyen Dorji is a gomchen who had been in retreat for six years in Bumthang until he was forced to visit the Capital due to acute illness.

Though he has been on medication for several years, he suffers from blinding headaches and seizures.

The saga of the star-crossed couple by the Thimphu River began six months ago.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu

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