The recently concluded Rotary Club of Thimphu Project held in Thimphu in Wilderness Emergency Medical Treatment – a First Aid course specifically aimed at training Bhutan’s trekking guides in how to respond and treat/evacuate emergency cases in wilderness situations, was an initiative spearheaded by Rotarian Dr. James Ham, upon request by the Rotary Club of Thimphu.
The story of how this came about is a story that is rather out of the ordinary.
Rotarian Dr. James visited Bhutan during November of 2018, along with his childless wife of many years. During the visit, someone suggested that the couple visit Chimmi Lhakhang known as the Temple of Fertility. They did, and quite extraordinarily, the wife was pregnant on the first moth of the visit to the temple.
Exactly nine months later, at 6:54AM on 10th August, 2019 a healthy son weighing 5 pounds 13 ounces, 20 inches was born to the couple.
They named their son Kinley Jin Ham.
The good doctor and I worked relentlessly on the wilderness medicine project. Then, to our dismay, the scourge called COVID-19 hit the world and delayed the project indefinitely. But we did not lose hope - finally this month, after over three years of delay, the project got implemented - a meaningful project that is a collaborative work between: Rotary Club of Honolulu Sunset, Hawaii, Rotary Club of Thimphu, University of Utah, USA and the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences (KGUMS), Thimphu.
With the conclusion of this project, we now have in-country competence to train additional guides in handling emergency cases in wilderness situation. It is planned that a continuous training program will be put in place - to train trekking guides on a regular basis.
Unfortunately with the introduction of the US$200.00 SDF per person per day, and withdrawal of long duration discounts, trekking as a tourism product is no longer seen as marketable, including bird watching tours that are long duration products.
Add to that, the imposition of SDF on the visits by donors is a spanner in the works. I am told that a large number of projects funded by the WHO, UNDP, UNICEF, FAO and a large number of Bhutan's struggling NGOs now remain stalled - and may never happen because the planned projects did not budget for this sudden change in policy.