‘I want to continue my study’

Abandoned by her father, raised by her mentally ill mother, and financially challenged, but 19-year-old Tshering Pem wants to continue her education

After having to drop out of school in 2020, 19-year-old Tshering Pema of Bemsisi village, Toepisa gewog in Punakha, is now looking for financial support to continue her studies, which she believes is the means to fulfill her aspirations.

What she wants is to build a better house for her mentally ill mother and visually impaired grandmother to live comfortably.

She was studying in class XI in one of the schools in Paro in 2020. Today she along with her mother and grandmother lives in a temporary makeshift house made out of CGI sheets.

“The house becomes very hot during the summer,” says Tshering Pem.

She was able to get a permit for timber subsidy which is believed to take time while the RICB office in Punakha released a sum of Nu 190,000 as an insurance claim for the house (where the family lived earlier) which was destroyed by an earthquake

Tshering lives with her 82-year-old grandmother and 52-year-old mother, while her father abandoned her when she was not even born. Her mother was then five-month pregnant. She was born out of wedlock.

She reminisces that there were times when villagers used to call her a fatherless child and that it was hurtful. Unable to enroll her to a school, Tshering’s mother kept her in the village till her grandmother’s sister’s daughter (ama Peka) enrolled her in a school and took care of her educational expenditure.

In 2009, at the age of nine, she was enrolled in class PP. Her ama Peka and her husband had been supporting her since then.

Talking to Business Bhutan, Tshering Pema says that all she wants is to continue her study now which she had to leave as there was no one to look after her sick grandmother back home.

“I could only go to the school for a week in 2020 and after that the lockdown happened and the situation at home was not good, so I had to discontinue my studies,” she added.

She said that all this while her relatives, the Loden Foundation and the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) bore her educational expenses until she discontinued her studies.

“With no one back home to look after them, the responsibility to look after them has fallen upon me. I have to do everything from buying ration to cooking for them,” she said.

With no man at home, the gewog office has, meanwhile, exempted her and her family members from working (woolah) for others’ fields.

All these years her relatives have been helping her financially despite their own share of problems. Only if she has a house and means to fund her studies, she says she can lessen the burden on her relatives.

Chencho Dema from Punakha