[We Care, We Share] Inspiring story: Scouting the Forefront.

 

 

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We Care We Share

An initiative of UN Bhutan- resilience tools for COVID-19

 

“COVID-19 is no fairy-tale, we need to be proactive in our behavior” says Rigsel…

 

Rigsel Yangtsho wears her orange and yellow neckerchief scout scarf over her kira as she walks towards the canopy near the cafeteria. A typical hot summer afternoon, she asks for a glass of lemon water. She has been a scout for almost ten years. Now a Rover scout and 19 years old, Rigsel is pursuing her undergraduate degree in India.

 

She had to return home in March, as the outbreak of COVID-19 took the world by storm and countries began shutting down their borders and introducing lockdowns and stay-at-home schemes. After a month, she found herself in the house often on her phone, whiling away the long hours that had befallen her in this time of crisis. It was then, she decided to re-engage in the programmes and activities coordinated by the Bhutan Scouts Association in response to COVID-19.

 

Currently there are more than 59,000 scout members around the country, making up a good 8% of Bhutan’s population. The Bhutan Scouts Association in partnership with UNICEF Bhutan has initiated orientation programmes on COVID-19 pandemic to Leadership Scouts in many parts of the country. This work will build the capacity of young scouts and prepare them with necessary skills, safety measures and knowledge to support Bhutan in controlling the spread of the virus.

 

“In the orientations, there were so many ideas and interactions, we could brainstorm and discuss possible innovative ideas on how scouts can contribute towards COVID 19 response,” says Rigsel.

 

One of the ideas that were discussed was ‘C-learning’ or community learning. While there are substantial efforts being made towards e-learning, COVID-19 and its advocacy, some areas in Bhutan continue to fall behind due to inaccessibility, lack of proper guidance and its misuse. Remote and far-flung villages in the country may have one or two electric outlets in their homes or can catch at least two bars of network connectivity off the air. Some families are not able to afford mobile phones and the long data bills that accompany them. With TVs and the data packages, the costs and services may be efficient and worthwhile in urban areas, however villages are yet to gain the full benefits of owning a mobile phone.

 

“There are certain loopholes in e-learning, we saw that people are misusing it, or don’t even have the right tools to access them. With c-learning, scouts can go door to door and advocate COVID-19 safety health measures and tools, instruct proper use of google classrooms and e-learning, or perhaps even conduct lessons for children. We call it c-learning because we want community engagement so that rural areas don’t miss out on all the services and efforts,” says Rigsel.

 

Numerous scouts have also volunteered their services in Centenary Farmer’s Market in Thimphu alongside Dessups with crowd control and safety guidelines and procedures.

 

“The role of scouts has had a significant change starting this year: COVID-19 is no fairy-tale, we need to be proactive in our behavior. We have informed the government that we are ready to volunteer and help in the capacities that we have. We are prepared and ever ready to step in.”

 

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