As mentioned yesterday, the sponsor of the festival pictured below was the Tarayana Foundation.
The following is from the Tarayana Foundation Annual Progress Report.
The Foundation was formally launched by HRH the Crown Prince Dash Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck o May 4, 2003. Tarayana Foundation is a non -profit organization working to uplif and enhancelives of vulnerable individuals and communities in Bhutan. The Foundation complements and supplements to efforts of the Royal Government in poverty reduction. The President and Founder was moved to establishing the Foundation as a means of organizing and steamling assistance to the vulnerable communities and individuals. Having trekked* to all of the remote communities, it became apparent that specially targeted interventions would be required to mitigate the challenges faced by the most vulnerable groups.
Why should Tarayana focus on the vulnerable people?
All human beings aspire to be happy. This is reflected in the balanced development philisophy pursued by the Royal Government to enhance Gross National Happiness. Bhutan's people centered development has focused on poverty reduction and improving the lives of people.
The publication goes on to say that, despite efforts of the government during the past 40 years, 1/3rd of Bhutanese live under the poverty level. Because the Himalayan terrain is daunting and the tiny villages are often so remote as to require days of trekking in order to reach them, it has been difficult for the people living there to receive social services or establish markets for their wares.
At the time of my visit the Foundation ,with the help of significant volunteerism from Bhutanse youth, had just completed 32 of the 47 houses being built in a small community called Lhop. I was fortunate to see photos of the lean-tos these new structures replaced. Very often the primitive structures were nothing more than straw matting with huge gaps that monsoonal rains surely must have poured through. I saw pictures of the tents the volunteers lived in for long periods as they prought in materials and taught the residents to build their houses. And I saw pictures of the finish stone houses built by the people and in the style of their choosing.
I was deeply moved by this organization whose core values are listed as:compassion, dignity and integrity and whose vision is a happy and poverty free Bhutan.
Above is the very beautiful and gracious director of the Tarayana Foundation and some of the recipients of allowance. The latter were in the office the day I visited.
* Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck has recently published a wonderful book entitled A Portrait of Bhutan that describes her intensive treks throughout the country.
Tarayana's site is www.tarayanafoundation.org If you go there you will learn quite a bit and see pics similar to those described above. I strongly reccommend that you check the site out.