Happiness Center – drug abusers’ new home to recovery in Phuentsholing

The two-roomed center, near the Amochhu, accommodates recovering addicts and has been operational for a little more than a month

The rain has just stopped. Heavy dumpers roar at the nearby riverbed outside, waiting to load dredged boulders. And inside a small and simple room, Bhup Dhoj Ghalley flips through his daily activity logbook. Few books and scribbled papers remain scattered on the wooden table unattended.  

It’s time for the 40-year-old to counsel the recovering youths from drug addiction. He summons them and around 15 of them, heads bent low, walk to him. They are not in a hurry and the recovering addicts, who were once heavily dependent on drugs and other narcotics, calmly circle around the counselor beside a fire.

  A soft conversation then begins and lasts for quarter of an hour. The talk is centered mostly on drugs and those wanting to recover and triumph from drug addiction. This is almost always the daily activity at the Happiness Center, which was founded by Bhup Dhoj to cater to youths who have been into drugs and substance abuse.

The two-roomed Happiness Center, near the Amochhu, accommodates recovering addicts and has been operational for a little more than a month. The Happiness Center has received more than 15 young drug abusers as of now.

“It had been worth. Now most of them are clean,” Bhup Dhoj says, smiling proudly, and reiterating that addiction is a disease which can’t be cured at once.

“Counseling to young minds brings better results. Some youths who were disconnected from their parents have been eventually reunited through us,” he adds.

The center, initiated by Bhup Dhoj with the help from his coworker and Sonamgang Middle Secondary School’s counselor, envisions helping as many youths as possible who are into drugs.

Besides shelters, meditation classes and detoxification services, Bhup Dhoj is also helping the recovering addicts with after care services, including finding schools to continue education for the dropouts.

“I also seek funds to sponsor them for rehabilitation centers,” he said, adding that he has advised more than 25 abusers who used to hang around in Phuentsholing.

Bhup Dhoj reaches to the young drug abusers at their hangout places, creates awareness and shares his experiences to convince them. “They do share about their broken family ties and negligence from the parents, which are really serious cases. I advise them and bring here. It’s working till now,” he says.

Meanwhile, Bhup Dhoj is helped to run the center by his wife and the parents of the youths with the rations who make frequent visits to the center.

“I am thankful for their support which otherwise would be a failure,” he says. 

Students and dropouts take turns to cook meals at the center, managed by Bhup Dhoj from his personal coffer and contributions from the students’ guardians and a few volunteers.

A school counselor who works closely with Bhup Dhoj in counseling the youths, Sonam Lhamo said, “It’s glad to work with him at the hour of need. Drug abusers are common amongst our youth and he has started the program to create awareness. It’s a great action and we have to support him.”

A 16-year-old, who recently arrived at the Happiness Center, is now clean without drugs. “I am fortunate to meet him. It’s a new world here and I don’t feel the temptation,” he says.

While as an enthusiast sportsperson who loved playing football and volleyball, Bhup Dhoj was also into drugs since his childhood days and that resulted in numerous disciplinary issues with the school authorities. He changed four schools during his schooling phase.

Bhup Dhoj was brilliant in studies too and even completed an engineering course from the College of Science and Technology in Rinchending. However, drugs shattered his life and he lost both his wife and his career.

“After realizing all these, I was on a mission to save the future of our youths. I was spoiled but all I can do is help them through counseling. I don’t want these youths to go through my phase. We can stop them at the start,” he says with a smile. 

Having worked with various NGOs, now Bhup Dhoj has started counseling programs in Phuentsholing, which he considers is in close proximity to easy availability of drugs and other narcotics.

Bhup Dhoj Ghalley has also helped in cleansing his inmates from drug addiction during his stay in prison for the same cause. He says he gained experiences in counseling from there and that it still helps him.

Meanwhile, the dinner is ready and Bhup Dhoj leads the youths to the kitchen where meals await to be served.

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing