Dear Rotary Foundation Director Maurie,
Greetings from Bhutan and Thank You for your mail and additional input on Australia-Bhutan collaborations. I would like to further expand the historical connections with the following mail that I had sent to an Australian Rotarian, four years back.
Dear Rtn. Bruce,
This is to acknowledge the receipt of your mail dated 14th November, 2017 soliciting our support in being a Global Grant partner in your drive towards raising funds to eradicate FASD among the First Nation people of the Kalgoorlie-Goldfields region of Western Australia.
In my capacity as the Club Secretary of the Rotary Club of Thimphu, I had the opportunity to put up your request to our Club Members for their consideration, during our weekly Club Meeting held yesterday.
While making a pitch for your cause, I presented the following to our Members.
More than half a century ago, in 1962, it was the then Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Gordon Menzies who invited Bhutan to attend the 14th Consultative Committee Meeting of the Colombo Plan – as an observer. This resulted in the Colombo Plan making the rare exception of admitting a none-qualified Bhutan as a Member. Thus, Australia has been pivotal in Bhutan’s joining a world body for the first time in its history. This was a prodigious moment for Bhutan – being admitted as a member of the Colombo Plan meant that Bhutan was now recognized as an independent sovereign country.
In the last one decade alone, more than 500 Bhutanese have received scholarships from the Australian Government. This year alone, over 60 scholarships are on offer to Bhutanese academics.
In recent times, Australia has emerged as the most preferred destination for the Bhutanese – both for education as well as for employment. Bhutanese prefer Australia over even USA. There are few thousand Bhutanese currently domiciled in Australia - very happily and comfortably.
In the last two months, Disaster Aid Australia, Melbourne (a project of the Rotary Club of Endeavor Hills) has donated 6 SkyHydrant water filter systems to 6 of our schools in rural Bhutan. Valued at tens of thousands of dollars, these innovative water filters dispense 10,000 liters of filtered water every day, for the safety of our school children's health. (This project has since been raised to AUS$1.00 million till end June 2021).
Bhutan is grateful to Australia – for its role as a longstanding development partner. In recognition of this fact, you may be happy to know that the Royal Government of Bhutan has declared the year 2018 as a special Bhutan-Australia Friendship Year. In celebration, the Royal Government of Bhutan is allowing all Australian nationals to visit Bhutan without having to pay the mandatory Minimum Daily Tariff. During the 3 months of June, July and August 2018, all Australian Passport holders can visit Bhutan on payment of the sustainable development fee of US$ 65.00 only.
For us at the RC Thimphu, a request from Australia - perhaps first of its kind - is no trivial matter. I am happy to inform you that after a short discussion, all our Members were emphatic in their support for your cause and have agreed that they will contribute, personally, to raise the requested US$2,000.00 as our Club’s cash contribution to your humanitarian cause.
Rotary Club of Thimphu
PS: Bhutan's first Colombo Plan Meeting mentioned above was represented by a lady - Ashi Tashi who is still alive at 98 years.