Saturday, March 31, 2018

SkyHydrant Water Filters For Every School in Bhutan

In traditional Bhutan, every mother of a newborn used to be fed water to re-condition her body from the ravages of childbirth. Every newborn began life on this earth by being cleansed by water - a ritual known as Lhabtsang Thruesey.

But in modern Bhutan, our challenge is that our waters may no longer be safe for Lhabtsang Thruesey or to recondition a child-birth ravaged woman’s body. Our water bodies have been subjected to all sorts of defilement, caused by modernity and the environmental ruin it brings to our natural habitat. Our waters are no longer clean or safe for drinking. But clean and safe water is critical to healthy growth of children.

The Rotary Club of Thimphu understands the multiple benefits of providing safe drinking water to children – the direct benefit is that it helps improve school attendance – but the greater benefit that is not immediately visible is that healthy children contribute to reduction is health related costs to the nation. Bhutan provides free health care – thus if we are able to curb water related diseases among children, it will translate into huge savings for the government.

In the last few months we have been partnering with Disaster Aid Australia (DAA) in providing water filters to schools across the country. We have already installed 6 units of the innovative water filters manufactured in Australia called SkyHydrant filters. On 24th of this month we received additional 4 units of these filters for installation in the following schools:

1.  Damphu CS
2.  Kabesa CS
3.  Phuntshopelri PS
4.  BAAF sports ground in Lungtenzampa.

During a simple ceremony, these filters were handed over to the Ministry of Education, yesterday.

 The Education Secretary receives the DAA's donation of SkyHydrant water filters draped in ceremonial scarves, from Rtn. S. T. Dorji, Honorary Member of the Rotary Club of Thimphu.

  Officials of the School Health and Nutrition Division, Ministry of Education, pose with the SkyHydrant water filters

The Disaster Aid Australia has committed to raise funds to supply 120 of these filters over the next two years. Their aim is to reach water filters to every school in the Kingdom. It is an extremely challenging endeavor but as the CEO of Disaster Aid Australia says, it is important to start the journey.

The journey has certainly started in real earnest.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Rotary International District 3292 PET Seminar Held in Bhutan


My recent mail to Rotarians in Nepal ended thus:

At a higher level, the PET Seminar has achieved what we at RC Thimphu has always aspired to achieve - that of spreading goodwill and understanding between the Bhutanese and the Nepalese - two mountain people in the same neighborhood that share a commonality in geography, history and culture. The multiplier effect of the 111 Nepalese going back home with feeling of kinship and speaking about it to many other Nepalese at home will one day bring our two countries even closer than we already are. The Rotary cause does not end at the doorsteps of volunteerism and humanitarian service. Even more important is the role we Rotarians play in building bridges across nations and continents……

This was in response to the congratulatory mail sent to the Rotary Club of Thimphu by Past District Governor Keshav Kunwar.

Between 17th to 20th March, 2018, Rotary Club of Thimphu played host to 111 Rotarians from Nepal who held their 2017-2018 PET Seminar in the country. Among the group were over 60 incoming Club Presidents and three District Governors from Rotary International District 3292. Every year before the incoming club Presidents take on their responsibilities, they are trained in all areas of their responsibilities. PET stands for "President Elect Training".

For the past two years, the Rotary Club of Thimphu has been working on bringing Rotary meetings and seminars to Bhutan because we believe that Bhutan has the ideal conditions as a MICE destination. We are happy to have been able to bring one substantial MICE event to Bhutan - after working for 2 years. We hope to be able to bring many more Seminars to Bhutan.

The preparatory work involved is massive - but with dedication and hard work, nothing is impossible. The Seminar went off without a hitch; we exhibited our sense of hospitality at the highest level; the selection of our seminar venue, hotels and transportation was hugely appreciated by the delegates. No complaints on the variety and quality of food either. Fellowship and the cultural program during the farewell dinner was, according to the delegates, superlative!

Fellowship and bone-fire at the reception dinner on 17th March, 2018

Group photo after the end of Seminar on 19th March, 2018

 Cultural event at the close of the Seminar - Fellowship is an important aspect among Rotarians

Delegates take their places at the Seminar hall

 PDG Keshav Kunwar addressing the participants

And yours truly got recognized too --- for all my hard work in putting together this maiden Rotary PET event: I got gifted an exquisitely crafted bronze Buddha image, as a token of appreciation.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Climate Change in Reverse

In the early 1980’s an event took place in Thimphu that so infuriated a visiting American lady journalist that she coined a brand new phrase – Apartheid in Reverse. Some of you may recall that Apartheid was the practice of racial segregation where the white minority in South Africa was considered superior to the majority black natives. The whole world set up an embargo against the economically dominant Afrikaner government, which finally led to the collapse of the Apartheid regime in the mid 1990’s, although the generational effects of Apartheid still linger.

The term Apartheid in Reverse came to mind during my travel to Punakha on 7th March, 2018. When I reached Dochu-La, the sky was sparkling clear and the Himalayan mountain ranges in the distance were clearly visible. What was heartwarming was the view of Mt. Masagung (7,158 Mtrs.) fully clad in snow - something that I missed seeing for the past two decades and more. This peak that qualifies as one of the highest mountains in the country as been shorn of snow for the past many years - to the point that it began to look naked, proving the varsity of the effects of climate change caused by global warming.

Mt. Masagung in March, 2018

Mt. Masagung in December, 2016

The restocking of the Masagung with billions of tons of snow is good news for Bhutan, and the riparian states downstream of the Brahmaputra. The snow will be preserved in the form of ice and, overtime, the ice melt will feed the rivers that will go on to turn the debt-ridden turbines of our doomed hydro-power projects churning out losses at 10% interest.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Baby Steps - A Potential Global Revolution

David Langworthy, CEO and Founder of Disaster Aid Australia (DAA) calls himself a mad man. And he is proud to be one - he believes that only mad men dare tread on paths others would not.

To understand more about Disaster Aid Australia, please visit:

I hadn’t quite realized what we were taking on when we, the Rotary Club of Thimphu, invited David to visit Bhutan, in gratitude for the most generous gift of 10 SkyHydrant water filter systems for our school children. In the days that followed his arrival in Bhutan - the enormity of what we were taking on hit me - having spent 5 days with the man who is set on a colossal dream - Safe Water for Every Child on this planet. He believes that safe water is the most basic human right.

Chief of School Health and Nutrition Division, Ministry of Education, Aum Jamyang Choeden with David at Dochu-La Pass, on their way to visit the beneficiary schools in Punakha and Tsirang

He is embarking on a global movement that espouses safe water as a Basic Human Right. And he wants to start with Bhutan. In the coming months and years, he wants to turn Bhutan into a model country where he will test-launch his vision - by delivering safe water to every school children in the country. At the request of the Education Minister Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk, David has agreed to initiate the program by first working on the delivery of the requested 60 SkyHydrant filters - which he promptly upped to 120 units. Based on the input to be provided by the Ministry of Education, the Rotary Club of Thimphu will submit to him a proposal - a general outline of where and how his vision for Bhutan will be played out. Simultaneously, he will be presenting his vision at the global level, during one of the seven Breakout Sessions of the Rotary International Convention in Toronto this June, where anywhere from 20,000 - 30,000 Rotarians will congregate. He is sponsoring a number of speakers from the Region, to share their experiences in safe water delivery, at the Toronto Convention.

Bhutan and the Rotary Club of Thimphu will be represented in that Breakout Session in Toronto.

Built like a tank - the famous SkyHydrant water filter that dispenses 12,000 ltrs. of clean and safe water every day. The water from these filters are healthier than the bottled mineral water since the SkyHydrant does not remove the essential minerals from the water it dispenses

He thinks that what he will achieve in Bhutan will be the first baby steps that will ultimately lead to the realization of his final objective - of delivering safe water to every child on this planet. He says that if Rotary has been able to single handedly eradicate Polio, there is no reason why the organization cannot achieve the same level of success in delivering safe water to every child on this earth.

By any measure, what David is embarking on is nothing short of a revolution that could gain momentum at a global scale, and alter lives. And yet, I am amazed by the simplicity with which he outlines his monumental dreams - akin to a Buddhist monk on his ancient ritualistic walk to gather alms - calm, serene and unwavering.

Fate, destiny, karma …. What can be said of them? They collide and clash and the synthesis can result in some unexpected journeys and happenstance. The Rotarian K K Looi from Malaysia who gave a 20 minutes talk on the subject of SkyHydrant during the Rotary Conference early last year in Thimphu, could not have imagined in his wildest dreams that his talk would end up being pivotal in the delivery of safe water to every child in this country and, eventually, the whole world.

I suppose it was destined - a destiny that is most welcome!

NOTE: In less than 20 hours, this post rose to the top of the ladder as the most popular post of the week.
             Look to the column "Popular Posts" on the left.