At the invitation of His Majesty the King, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand was in Bhutan for a four-day visit.
Princess Sirindhorn is the third child of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the present monarch of Thailand and this was her first visit to Bhutan.
Accompanied by the Ambassador of Thailand to Bhutan and other officials of the Thai government, Princess Sirindhorn was received by Her Royal Highness Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuck at Paro International Airport on Monday.
Audience with the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and His Majesty the King
The next day, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn departed for Dechenchholing Palace where she received an audience with His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and later she was welcomed in a traditional Chipdrel procession at Tashichhodzong where she received an audience with His Majesty the King at Grand Kuenray Hall.
His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen hosted a private dinner later in the evening for Her Royal Highness at Lingkana Palace.
Short Trips during the visit
During her four-day visit, Her Royal Highness visited many places. On the first day, she visited Kichu monastery in Paro. Princess Sirindhorn also made a short trip to the Taktshang Monastery and later in the evening, she visited the Royal Textile Academy.
The Princess visited Wanakha Central School in Paro, Samtengang Central School in Wangdue and Wangbama Central School, Thimphu to check on the progress of the agricultural projects she had funded. She interacted with the students and planted a cypress tree in each school.
On her third day, she visited Punakha Dzong. Before departing for Bangkok on Thursday, she visited the Royal Botanical Garden at Serbithang.
Princess supports school agricultural program
The Princess who is renowned for her humanitarian works in Thailand and in other countries has been supporting agricultural programs in six schools in Bhutan. Since 2007, the princess has spent USD 84,533.29 from 2012-2014 on it.
The fund is spent on green house, land development of vegetable gardens, building livestock shed, and irrigation facilities in schools.
Yurung, Wanakha, and Wangbama Central Schools were the first three to implement the project in 2012. It expanded to Samtengang Central School, Norbuling Central School of Sarpang and Tsangkha Central School of Dagana in 2014.
According to the Principal of Wangbama Central School, Sonam Drukpa, the project has supplemented the diet of the children and the schools have been able to serve fresh organic vegetables straight from their school garden. “The children’s health has improved which in turn has enhanced their learning,” he said.
The project is now seen as a holistic development model not only for achieving sustainable development but also to improve the quality of children’s lives and the community at large.
With funding and technical support of HRH the Princess, Wangbama Central School has made good progress in school agriculture and school feeding and stood first in the school agriculture program in 2015.
“Not only do we have green vegetables the year round, some percent of the processed food enters the commercial market to meet the maintenance and other running costs,” said the principal of Wanakha Central School, Kinley Jamtsho.
Scholarship and training patronage
Her Royal Highness the Princess has also been providing scholarships for Bhutanese teachers and educationists to undergo training and higher studies in Thailand.
Since the inception of the project, around eight teachers in Wangbama Central School have attended the workshop in Thailand. They also sponsored the project focal teacher of Yurung Central School for a master’s degree in health education in Thailand.
More than 50 teachers were trained for this project.
Diplomatic relations between Thailand and Bhutan were established in 1989 and the visit of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to Bhutan is expected to further strengthen the ties of goodwill and friendship between Bhutan and Thailand.