πŸ…³πŸ…΄πŸ†‚πŸ†„πŸ†„πŸ…Ώ πŸ…ΎπŸ…½ πŸ…³πŸ†„πŸ†ƒπŸ†ˆ

Kinzang whisks away the two plastic stools from outside the shop that has become a familiar routine for her, her desuup friends and many others like them, across the country. This will be her work station for the day and for the many days she is posted here. Dressed smartly in her orange uniform, a card displaying her COVID duty and zone, she sets down the visitor log book infront of her on one of the stools and on the other, she sits, to make entries of visitors without the druk trace app.

Desuup Kinzang on duty

She is at ease and calm as she goes about her business. It is not new to her, having done it for the last 25 days of the lockdown. Like her and her group, hundreds of desuups have been posted outside shops catering essentials to residents in and around Thimphu city during the 2nd national lockdown. The shop she has been assigned to was opened recently as part of the second lot of shops to allow clearance of stock and also, allow residents better access to essentials. With her back rested against the wall of the staircase running upto the next level of the building, she makes herself comfortable on the plastic stool she set a moment ago. She then flips open the log book with her gloved hands and draws out a pen from the top left pocket of her uniform, and waits for shoppers in the warm slanting rays of the morning sun.

As shoppers arrive in ones and twos, she politely asks if they have druk trace app. She offers the alternative of registering in the log book for those without. She then asks them to wash their hands with water and soap placed two steps away from here towards the entrance of the shop. Shoppers happily comply; washing their hands and scanning the QR code pasted on the glass door of the shop. Aiming the phones, it is quite the sight to watch, shoppers frame the code like a subject of a photography competition and with a cling sound ringing from their phone, they enter the shop for essentials.

As the clock ticks away, Kinzang continues greeting shoppers with her friendly voice from behind a double layered covering of the face mask and face shield. It is hard to imagine how she looks beneath all of that but her warm and comforting voice helps paint a picture of her kind face to the name on her uniform. As the late afternoon chill sets in, she slips on her dark coloured jacket to keep her warm as it is still a few hours before her post will close for the day.

Kinzang and hundreds of desuups like her, stationed across shops all around the country including Thimphu, made shopping amidst this tense and trying times a little more bearable, a little more normal with their pleasant greetings and a feeling of social interaction. As we begin unlocking, these friendly voices behind the face-mask and face-shields will slowly dissolve away, and when we meet next we may not recognize one another, but memories of these small but warm interactions during a time only read in books and viewed in fiction movies, will forever remain etched in our hearts, to be returned someday.

This is dedicated to all desuups, playing an active role during this hour of need and remaining true to the spirit of desuung as we follow our Supreme Commander. Tisso!

#Bhutan #desuung #thimphu #lockdowndiaries

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As the curtain closes in on a tumultuous year, I want to share a lesser known story of hope and optimism in these last few hours at the cusp of the new year.

Life is like a Marathon. It requires grit and determination to cross the finish line. Dreams in life are much like marathons. For Dema, the daughter of a yak herder from far flung Lunana, from the remotest part of the country, it was to be a nurse oneday and serve her community. But dreams hardly ever turn out easy to fulfil and Dema’s was no exception.

She lost her mother when she needed her the most. Her future looked bleak with financial constraints. She felt like a burden to her relatives. There were times when she was at the verge of giving up on her dreams.

Perhaps her late mother’s birthplace had planted her roots too deep and strong to give up on it. Or maybe it was the harsh lunana conditions that prepared her for life’s marathon of challenges. She clung onto her dream like a yak calf surviving on a meager patch of dried winter grass, until the arrival of spring’s lushness and bounty. Her waiting was about to be rewarded and her luck was about to take a turn for the better.

In 2016, after she approached the Office of the Gyalpoi Zimpoen, there was no looking back. It appeared that the calf had survived the harsh bitter winter and spring had finally arrived. She received kidu from His Majesty The King to pursue her dream of studying nursing, in India.

Dema is today a staff nurse, serving as part of the team at the Basic Health Unit in Lhedi in Lunana. She has grown into a young and strong cow who provides care and protection to the young, old and weaker members of her herd [metaphorically]. Dema’s life has made a full circle. Her dreams have come true. Lunana’s own daughter has returned to serve her far flung and remote community in Lunana.

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πŸ…ΏπŸ…΄πŸ…»πŸ…³πŸ…΄πŸ…½ πŸ…³πŸ†πŸ†„πŸ…ΊπŸ…ΏπŸ…° πŸ…ΆπŸ…°πŸ†ˆπŸ…»πŸ…Ύ!

In the pictures she can be seen administering flu vaccine to members of her community. I first met Dema in 2015 in her village Threlga in Lunana.

[Shared with permission from Dema]

Dema living her dream of serving her community
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