Thousands of children in Bhutan are unable to get an education because they lack the basic supplies and services that are needed to attend the free public schools. Help us change that.
We have a simple mission: to give more children access to education. While the ability to attend free public schools is a given in a developed country, it can be incredibly difficult for children living on the edge of subsistence. The Pika Foundation aims to help these children go to school, learn, and prepare for their futures. We currently have projects in four schools in Longtey, Trongsa and Bumthang in Central/Eastern Bhutan.
Bhutan is a remote developing country in the Himalayas that only opened to visitors in the 1970s. It is a parliamentary democracy and Vajrayana Buddhism is the official religion of the country. As a result of Bhutan's historical self-imposed isolation, its rich culture and traditions have remained in tact. In order to ensure that would continue to be the case, the Fourth King of Bhutan introduced the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) as a measure of prosperity instead of the traditional gross domestic product. GNH is based on the four pillars of (1) equitable socio-economic development, (2) preservation and promotion of cultural and spiritual heritage, (3) conservation of the environment, and (4) good governance.
Bhutan's unique approach to development has received wide acclaim and favorable comparisons to its neighbors, India and China. But the development process is slow and while it is often considered the happiest country in Asia, poverty and illiteracy are still widespread. The introduction of tourism is helping to address some basic needs such as education and health care, both of which are funded by the minimum daily tariff for visitors. However many in the country, particularly in the more remote rural areas, struggle to make it from day to day.
Pema is a 13-year old orphan being raised by her grandparents. Her family is very poor and she is the youngest of four siblings. Her grandmother finds it difficult to also raise her grandchildren because she has eight children of her own. Pema is an exceptional student and likes to read. She has excelled at boarding school and was recently elected school captain. She would like to be a doctor
Sonam is a 17-year old girl with a sparkle in her eyes and a nice smile. She is one of seven children of a single mother. Sonam's older brother dropped out of school and was sent to a monastery because of their financial difficulties and Sonam was about to be sent to a nunnery when we arrived. Her two younger sisters have since been sent to a nunnery. On school breaks she was doing manual labor at construction sites for 250 Nu/day (about $3). She is in her third year of boarding at the secondary school. She likes to study science and hopes to be a doctor.
Sonam Zangmo is a 12-year old girl who lost both of her parents two years ago, within months of each other. She lives with her grandmother and aunt and while she is a good student, she has become quiet and withdrawn since her parents died. Her teachers are very supportive and since being helped by the foundation they report that she has gained confidence and become more active in class. Her favorite subject is English and she would like to become a teacher.
Tshering is a 16-year old boy who was abandoned by his parents and raised by his grandmother until she died a few years ago. While his father lives in the same village, he has no contact with Tshering and instead an elderly woman now acts as his guardian in exchange for him providing manual labor on her farm. Without our support, he would have shortly been sent to a monastery. He is very shy and he likes to play football. He hopes to be a doctor.
Sonam Tenzin is a 13-year old boy who lives with his mother and grandfather. He had a difficult one hour walk (in good weather conditions) to school but he has now moved to the secondary boarding school, which he likes very much. His father died some years ago and his mother is not well and cannot work. He has two brothers, one of whom was already sent to the nearby monastery. Sonam was likely to follow without our help. Sonam has flourished since we met him and last year became to school captain. Math is his favorite subject and he hopes to become a doctor.
Tshering Lham is a 15-year old girl who when we met her lived in a small wooden hut near her primary school because her village was too far up the mountain to make the trip every day. She was abandoned by her parents when she was quite young and taken in by a local family in exchange for her working at their home and on their farm. She is extremely shy and withdrawn. We were able to transfer her to a boarding school some distance from the village where we hope she will be able to focus on her studies.