Love across Jowo Durshing

Love across Jowo Durshing

How an Olep man met a Monpa girl with a helping hand from famous footballers Ronaldo Nazario and Zinedine Zidane

The Oleps of Rukha in Wangduephodrang and the Monpas of Jangbi in Trongsa are intertwined to each other in a single frame with loads of history between the country’s two oldest tribes.

They are said to be from the same source which is believed to be somewhere in the valley of Reti in Sarpang. However, they dispersed over time due to the practice of shifting cultivation, and settled on either side of the Jowo Durshing (Black Mountain) range. Contact has been minimal ever since, with the Monpas settling in present-day Jangbi while the Oleps preferred a place two day journey by road, Rukha.

Thanks to the Tarayana Foundation’s (TF) ‘Integrated Community Development’ model, the two disjointed tribes were able to reunite and reignite, blossoming into a beautiful nuptial three generations later.

Chencho, a 36-year-old Olep, was born and raised in Athang Rukha, which earned him the nickname of his village, Rukha. The seed of his story of love and carpentry was planted early in 2006 when TF initiated the first Integrated Community Development model supported by a Poverty Reduction Fund raised by famous footballers Ronaldo Nazario of Brazil and Zinedine Zidane of France for ‘Match Against Poverty’ under the aegis of United Nations Volunteers (UNV). This model focused on improving housing.

Along with many others, Chencho had the opportunity to work as an apprenticeship carpenter. Under the mentorship of a master carpenter from a neighboring village, he made rapid progress, becoming a carpenter himself. In mid-2009, when TF introduced a similar project in Trongsa, especially in Jangbi, Chencho and Ap Bachu from the same village went to pursue carpentry work, without the slightest clue that this would change the course of their lives. He and Ap Bachu completed their carpentry work for eleven houses. Besides the Tarayana housing, he also managed to find carpentry work for twenty additional houses doubling his earnings.

While Ap Bachu left Jangbi, Chencho stayed. The reason was a Monpa girl, with whom he was besotted. Love was the furthest thing in his mind but fate had them intertwined. He is thankful for the platform provided by TF – a chance opportunity that sharpened his carpentry skills. This also opened up other avenues. For that, Chencho is ever grateful to TF for the opportunity provided to his people in Athang Rukha. He says that had it not been for TF’s intervention he’d probably be working in the fields or herding cattle.

Today, he’s a happily married man with a loving wife and three children. Since he could not attend school, he wants his children to grow up educated. His eldest daughter goes to school. The younger sons will attend school as soon as they are eligible. So much has happened for Chencho ever since he came to this new place. He knew he could have been a carpenter but not that he would also become a lover, husband, and father.

It was not all smooth sailing, as his parents had initially been lukewarm to the idea. But for Chencho, carpentry had become a nourishing passion that he could not neglect. He says he has no regrets and in time, his parents have also come to realize what it all means to him and are proud of their boy.

“I think the Tarayana Housing Improvement Initiative and I were meant to stumble upon each other because the foundation needed a carpenter and I needed an opportunity. Since then, we have grown together. My friends often tease me saying that Tarayana also found me a wife and I could not agree more! Had it not been for Tarayana’s Housing Initiatives, I’d never have gotten a firm footing in life”, says Chencho, now a happy man.

Meanwhile, this is just a single story. There are many Chenchos out there who relish such beautiful stories that need to be shared. Jowo Durshing, therefore holds many untold stories and facts about the ancestral past.

(Courtesy Tarayana Foundation)

Tashi Namgyal from Thimphu