It is my pleasure to bring to your attention that the Punya Foundation, with the dedicated volunteer works of many like-minded people, has organized number of creative and effective programs in the last five years impacting vulnerable children and women’s lives in the refugee camp in Nepal and Kenya, surrounding villages in Nepal and the Bhutanese Diaspora. It is an honour to be associated with such a devoted and self-less team of professionals in moving forward the future program activities and plans of this organization in the coming years and lay a strong foundation for community building among the Bhutanese diaspora and outside.
The Foundation stands to empower vulnerable people and build capacity of youth through education and engagement programs rooted in Paulor Freire’s idea of education and capacity building based on their own inherent strengths. Freire believes that when organizing program for poor people, we need to consult and involve them to raise their consciousness about their social world. It believes in Swami Viveka Nanda’s philosophy of universal tolerance and respect for humanity, creating opportunities for young people from all socio-economic and cultural background without any forms of discrimination. Robert Chambers and Deepa Narayan also suggest in listening to the voices of the poor based on their assets and capabilities. Any meaningful programs making a difference in the lives of vulnerable and needy has to be grounded in their own social reality and involve them actively in program design. The Foundation operates with this strong belief and commitment in strengthening the assets of vulnerable youth and women through education, career counselling and initiating community involvement programs founded on these above noble thinking visionary development professionals who have inspired the work of the foundation.
The Punya Foundation programs initially started with promotion of education and empowerment of youth and vulnerable people like girls and women in the Bhutanese refugee camps and its surrounding villages in Nepal. It extended its service to vulnerable women and youth in the Kenyan refugee camps in 2012. The Foundation plans to extend these and create other programs reaching wider geographical areas such as Bhutan and Bhutanese diaspora in resettled countries. It will continue to expand and provide coverage to vulnerable people in other population groups and geographies in the future. The varieties of programs organized by the foundation not only helped to improve the lives of vulnerable families and children but have made a good impact among the community.
Through these initiatives, the foundation established a strong base in Australia with number of good initiatives and has had good responses from well-wishers and colleagues from other parts of the world such as Europe, Canada and USA. There is a keen desire among the board members to diversify our program base and expand in the USA, Canada, various European countries and others as opportunity arises. We have already begun laying the ground work for the education of children who had become orphans and are victims of recent 2015 earthquakes in Nepal. We have received generous support from many organizations and individuals both in cash and programmatic support and we are very pleased with all your positive encouragement. We are hoping that we would be able to materialize this dream of supporting 15 years of education for 50 children made orphan by this recent earthquake. This is our first new initiative. The second initiative the foundation has discussed and is gearing towards is providing career guidance and support to young Bhutanese in the diaspora so that they move in a clearer career path. I am personally knowledgeable in this area and have decided to devote some time on it so that we can make a contribution in the Diaspora and eventually help us look inwards within the settled communities in the third countries.
The Foundation is inspired to focus its attention in building opportunities and capacities of Bhutanese youth settled in different developed countries. The emerging needs for career planning and exploration of Bhutanese youth in the resettled countries is appearing as the new reality. With the new challenges in the resettled countries, especially with younger generations, the foundation is planning to introduce and diversify its primary program base towards career planning and opportunity search. The Foundation would like to engage its time and resources in addressing this new need. I would like to appeal all our well-wishers in supporting our new endeavor and we hope to receive your support and advice as we move in this direction.
To continue building its humble initiatives and dedicated work, the Foundation requires support of Bhutanese diaspora and other well-wishers from broader community. In the past, donors have contributed small and large sums of money encouraging us to work hard in developing and implementing creative programs. The Foundation and its board are highly appreciative of the generous contributions donors have made in materializing the impacts of these various programs, especially for those who made significant contributions recently in reaching out the orphan children. With your support and goodwill gesture the foundation is more confident and we are moving forward in the direction we have set. We have come to understand that many more people are coming forward through funding support and volunteering to organize the foundations activities in the localities you are living and it gives us immense inspiration knowing that we have a strong back up support from all of you.
I would like to urge, all those individuals and Bhutanese diaspora organizations, interested in improving the educational level of our marginalized youth and vulnerable people to continue supporting the work of the Foundation. You could support us through funding and fund generation, volunteering, assisting us in organizing various programs, joining the board for decision-making, supporting our country organizers and providing new ideas for program development.
Chairman and Founding Board Member