It is seven in the morning. At the Sherubtse College campus in Kanglung, Trashigang one figure after another slowly appears, shovel and spade in hand. It will not be long before they start backbreaking labor, carrying cement bags and sand to construct a wall. These are the 50 students from the college who are working during their winter break to earn pocket money for the next academic session.
The work is tough but the students wear a cheery countenance, often cracking jokes and bursting into loud laughter.
The camaraderie seems to help them brave the elements and the work.
Rigzin Dorji, one of them, said that despite it being vacation when he can stay at home, he wants to reduce financial pressure on his parents therefore he has no qualms doing menial work.
Like him Chimi Wangchuck also does not want to burden his parents to fund his college expenses.
“I could not go home and help my parents this time but I am earning good money here,” he said, “I will send some to my parents after the vacation.”
The students are aged 18-25 and earn Nu 600 per day.
The proprietor of the employer company, KT Construction, said that the students volunteered to work for the ongoing construction works in the college since December 2017.
Some locals were appreciative of the fact that despite it being a time of rest and frolic for the students, they were working.
A few of the students are working for the first time during a break.
Chimi Wangchuk said that he wanted to experience something novel during the vacation, which he usually spends at home. “In addition to the experience, I am helping my parents.”
Sherab Gyaltshen who is also working at the site said that he is enduring the hardship so that by funding his own college expenses, he will feel fulfilled.
“I am planning to work next vacation too,” he added.
As work wraps up at dusk, the tired youth retire home, heads held up high, with a dignity only those who live by the sweat of their brow can understand.
Jigme Wangchen from Kanglung, Trashigang