Celebrating women

Today the world celebrates the achievements of women. Today is International Women’s Day.

When I last checked, the IWD website had registered that 841 events would take place in 54 countries to observe International Women’s Day. And according to a press release from RENEW, Bhutan alone will hold five events – in Paro, Phuentsoling, Sarpang, Thimphu and Trongsa.

Her Majesty Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck, the founding president of RENEW, will grace the celebrations in Trongsa and address the nation. This is fortunate. Her Majesty works tirelessly to raise awareness and improve the conditions of our women. And to create social, economical and political opportunities for them.

So let’s listen carefully when Her Majesty announces this year’s IWD theme: “Women and men united to end violence against women and girls”

Let’s obey Her Majesty’s appeal to “Say No to Violence against Women: it is not in our culture!”

Let’s acknowledge Her Majesty’s constant reminder on RENEW’s website that “Home is a place for love and happiness, not for violence”

And let’s honour Her Majesty by celebrating our women – not just today, but tomorrow and everyday.

Her Majesty’s portrait from RENEW website

Calling young artists

Asha Karma and his volunteers at VAST are offering a ten-day basic art course for students. The classes start tomorrow. But, so far, only five students have registered. And they need at least ten to make the classes viable.

The art course is a good idea. Most children enjoy working with their hands. They love to create: to draw, to paint and to build. But good instruction on art and craft is not easy to find.

The VAST course is packed with good instruction and healthy fun. Children will enjoy a range of activities from basic drawing, sketching and charcoal to collage, watercolor and still life. They’ll also get to do outdoor activities like rock climbing and cultural visits.

This is exactly the type of activity that our students say they want during their winter holidays. So if you have children, please consider enrolling them for the course. Otherwise tell your relatives and friends about this wonderful opportunity.

To register your child, or to sponsor a student, you can contact a VAST volunteer at 327248 or mail@vast-bhutan.org.

Dragon Mania

There’s a festival going on at the Clock Tower Square. It’s an art festival. And it features the dragon, our county’s namesake. Young artists have gathered to create dragons of all types, sizes and colours. And our children are invited.

Take your children there. It’s warm and sunny outside. And the organizers have put together a range of activities to keep children and parents busy and interested. Naturally, there are plenty of dragons. Plus there are exhibitions, calligraphy, music, outdoor chess, street art, juggling, on-the-spot art classes, and rock climbing.

Rock climbing? Yes, rock climbing. The clock tower, it turns out, makes the perfect wall for children to try out vertical climbing.

Dragon Mania is organized by VAST, Voluntary Artist Studio, Thimphu. This festival, like all their activities, is carried out entirely by volunteers.

VAST is the brainchild of Karma Wangdi, popularly called “Asha”, one of Bhutan’s foremost social workers. Asha, himself an artist, left his government job in 1998 and set up VAST to promote art and social service among our youth. Why? Because while he, as a student, always had a qualified art teacher (his favourite was Mr Narendra Singh Gupta from Uganda), none of our schools today give art enough attention. Asha, by the way, studied in YHS from 1966 to 1976 – no prizes for guessing what I think is happening to our schools.

During the last 10 years, Asha and his team of exceptionally dedicated volunteers have organized art classes, camps, exhibitions, seminars, competitions and campaigns. In the process, they have influenced the lives of a thousand young Bhutanese. And more than a few adults.

So go to the Clock Tower Square. Support VAST. The festival runs through tomorrow.