Big ideas

House No. 7

I stayed at Yangtsena yesterday. It’s a small village on the southern slopes of the Pu-la overlooking the Amochhu river.

Yangtsena has only seven houses. But all of them are handsome, traditional farmhouses. It wasn’t always like that – just 14 years ago, they lived in basic bamboo huts.

That’s about when, when Yangtsena’s residents got together and decided that they, all seven households, must have better houses. Individually, no family had the resources to build a farmhouse. So they decided to pool their resources, especially labour, and collectively build all of their houses, one farmhouse at a time.

Contributing labour to build houses is not uncommon in our villages. Almost every house in rural Bhutan has been built using at least some form of free labour from their neighours.

But what sets Yangtsena apart is their resolve to build the entire village collectively, an idea that engaged every man, woman and child, almost every winter, in construction. Last winter, they completed their seventh, and final, farmhouse. And with that they completed an idea that began 14 years ago.

Yangtsena is a small village. But they have big ideas. Their next project is to improve their irrigation channels and then, again collectively, build more paddy fields. The idea – a big idea, and one that they will surely achieve – is to become self sufficient in rice.


Facebook Comments:


  1. OL, good observation. We should encourage or enable more such social capital in our rural areas, rather than depending on hands-out from government. God helps those who help themselves.


  2. I am happy such tradition of helping each other exists even today. I grew up when such tradition existed in my village, and cannot forget how easy it used to be to build houses then. BTW, I come from Kurtoe.

    But what is very sad is that such tradition has vanished now. Today, people who are building new houses have to pay so much even to get their neighbours’ help. Ironically, what they don’t realise is that, in the past they built their houses they are living in now with the generousity and assistance of their neighbours, who have to pay them today to reciprocate the same favour they received for free then!

    Times have changed. Perhaps, people have changed.

    But it is very heartening the people of Yangtsena have learnt the value of the community. I wish them good luck!

  3. Ideas and efforts are always greater at the grassroot level/local communities. It is just that they are not recognized and publicised.

    In contrary, resultless central plans echo very loud.


  5. Linda
    Why are you trying to mess the issue not relevant to the discussion herein. Express your views wherein relevant. And why do you expect OL to bring up every catch and release here. I believe he as an OL has larger areas of responsibilities but not just being watch dog.

  6. Dear opposition Leader,
    How this small creative discussion relates with the “Life and Politics in Democratic Bhutan”?

  7. Shop Lifter says

    Good community spirit. It is a shame that we hardly find this kind of cooperation in the blood of eastern Bhutanese. Hope things will change in time. Nice post la.

Leave a Reply