"READ Bhutan?" my friends ask. "Oh isn't it the new paper or a magazine?"
(Sorry I am not a narcissist, not at all and I have never been one, but this post is about myself). Almost all my friends ask the same question when I tell them that I am working for READ Bhutan and I always end up expanding the acronym - READ - Rural Education and Development. READ Bhutan is an NGO that builds community library and resource centers. READ model is simple - it goes out to the community and explains the importance of books and specifically information - which are essential tools to empower communities.
And if a community feels it is ready then READ sets up library and resource center in partnership with the community. Here READ mandates that at least a community contributes 10-15% of the cost of setting up the center - not because READ can't bear the cost. This is done with a sole aim of inducing and inculcating in community a sense of ownership and responsibility. Once the center is fully in operation, READ then invests in a business enterprise (which is usually run by the community members) that generates income. The income thus generated is used to run and maintain the center. That way the community does not have to bear the burden of looking after a center all the time. The services and facilities at the center are provided free of cost. And not just that - we frequently conduct livelihood and skills training to the community. This way we try to empower people with skills. Skilled people have higher chances of succeeding in life.
Currently, we have three centers - one in Ura, Bumthang, another in Rongthong, Kanglung and the third one in Punakha. You can check out more about them here. http://www.readglobal.org and our Facebook Page - www.facebook.com/READBhutan. This year we are coming up with two more centers - one at Chuzagang, Gelephu and our fifth center at Changjiji, Thimphu. While all centers are equally important to us, we are attaching even more importance on Changjiji Library and Resource Center (which we call the READ model Center). It is done in partnership with the National Housing Development Corporation Ltd. The center will have a library, ICT section, Women and Children's section, an AV section, etc. Added to these facilities, we will also have children's park there. So, everyone is really excited. This library and resource center will be very useful and beneficial not only to Changjiji residents, but directly or indirectly add values to the lives of more than100,000 people who call Thimphu their home.
I joined READ Bhutan inspired by its vision to empower communities - something that I always like to do. Being a student of social science, I know what it means to support a community and bring about changes, however small, in that community. Joining READ also means having to embrace Thimphu - the capital city of Bhutan. This is the place where most of my friends and relatives make living and nurture their families. This is where our government is. This is where big organizations have their headquarters. And being here is like being in the center of everything - sorry PaSsu - this is unfortunately how it is!
But it was also painful leaving Phuentsholing, which became my second home for a little more than three years. And leaving BOB - the organization I worked for - was altogether a big decision I undertook and I was ready to face any consequence of that rash decision. A few of my friends think it was foolish decision, but I didn't mind being a "fool" this time. And not to forget - I would always remain grateful to Bank of Bhutan and my wonderful former colleagues - whose help I would need at every stage of my life.
Due to BOB, I now have developed a strong PR and built a strong network of friends and supporters. To my former colleagues- thank you for being good people that you all are and keeping cool and bearing with me "unbearably" for the last 1,185 days which I had the honor to spend with you all. And this is to officially to thank everyone in Bank of Bhutan - in all its 27 branches, Head Office and extension centers, around the country. Keep up with the good work (don't forget - if you keep suspending all loans, you will soon run into heavy losses, I am sure you very well know about that and it is time to disperse loans). Thank you! After all someone has rightly pointed out, it is not because of an organization that people leave it. I can't agree more!