An initiative taken by a teacher of Phuentsholing Lower Secondary School, called ‘Mom at School’, is increasingly gaining popularity in the border town of Phuentsholing.
Wangmo, a teacher, initially started this charity for financially deprived students. It all began in 2015 when Wangmo and 30 other teachers, out of compassion, started the initiative with Nu 14,700 from other donors and supporters. Within the first year of operation, 20 needy children received support from this initiative.
Inspired by His Majesty’s speech at the National Convocation of B. Ed graduates in 2015 in Paro, Wangmo said the initiative was a sort of contribution to the nation from her side.
‘Mom at School’ now fully supports three students in Chhukha, who come from poor families who cannot afford education for their children.
The donors comprising both national and international individuals donate both in cash and kind which Wangmo gives to the recipients. The number of donors have increased from 44 in 2015 to 65 in 2016 and they have received donations from more than 80 individuals last year.
‘Mom at School’, meanwhile, saw a six-fold rise in the amount of fund they had raised in 2016. They collected Nu 0.12mn in 2016, including Nu 85,000 contributed by international sponsors. A part of the fund was also donated to Sonamgang Middle Secondary School (Nu 64,000).
Both in cash and kinds, ‘Mom at School’ could garner more than Nu 390,000 in 2017. They also received donations; mostly school uniforms, stationery and utensils worth more than Nu 50,000. After having spent around Nu 0.25mn, a cash balance of Nu 68,700 of ‘Mom at School’ will be used this year.
Last year alone, ‘Mom at School’ spent Nu 173,000 for the needy students.
Wangmo said they would like to thank all the donors for their valuable support.
“It has really helped the needy students,” she added, assuring that all the funds received from the donors are spent on the students. As of December 31, 2017, ‘Mom at School’ had a little over Nu 103,000 of free funds available.
Meanwhile, the initiative is spreading to other schools and Dzongkhags as well.
More than five schools across the country including one central school have applied for support from ‘Mom at School’.
Wangmo said, “We have to scan the situation and we are committed to support the genuine ones. Otherwise, there is chance of funds being misused.” But the initiative has committed around Nu 1mn to fund the needy students of other schools.
The principal of Sonamgang Middle Secondary School, Dorji Tshering, said the initiative has benefitted the needy students and that there are plans to strengthen support to other schools if donors increase.
He said the beneficiary students are now doing well academically. “The initiative has really helped the students perform well,” he said. Also, the school is looking to start other programs to raise funds to extend support to more such students.
“If the donors increase, we will extend support to more needy students,” he added. The initiative has also spread to Dungkar in Lhuntse after ‘Mom at School’ provided seed money to get this initiative started by the principal of a local primary school.
In an attempt to match local donations with the same amount of external funds, ‘Mom at School’ is now also expanding its base from mainly local benefactors and sponsors to even beyond the Bhutanese borders by an international crowd funding effort under the banner “Young Brains in Want of Means”.
It has also started its web page, www.momatschool.org, where viewers can view and donate if they are willing to.
Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing