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UN and JICA Bhutan’s joint initiative – Resilience tools for COVID-19
Challenging time for children and youth with disabilities of Draktsho
“When the corona virus hit us we were first shocked then afraid and wondered what would happen to our country and us. We wondered if our country would be able to withstand the virus and contain it.”
Rigzin Padma Tshogyal is the Founder and Director of Draktsho Vocational Training Centre for Special Children and Youth, where youth with disabilities are provided vocational training in various crafts such as tailoring, painting and embroidery as a means for them to earn a living in the future. She is also the recipient of the National Order of Merit (Gold) by His Majesty the King of Bhutan in recognition for her contribution to empowering children & youth with disabilities in Bhutan. She was the first individual amongst all CSO’s to receive this award in 2014.
“During the lockdown, I was extremely worried about those children who are intellectually challenged. Draktsho has many children who do not understand the concept of a virus that can threaten people’s lives.”, said Rigzin adding that many children and people with intellectual disabilities do not possess the capacity to cope with the demands of their environment or their own.
“They would experience extreme frustration and deprivation of movement under lockdown and this caused behavioral problems. They have limited ability to communicate; it is very difficult for the parents to manage children”, stated Rigzin. Understanding these unique needs, Draktsho sought special movement cards for the families so that the children could go for walks with their guardians within the permitted zones.
“After the lockdown, many children with disabilities and their families were affected physically and mentally. There are many women who are single mothers with no jobs and who had to seek Kidu during the lockdown. Many are farmers living hand to mouth; some live with support from the community. When the country was under lockdown, they faced the worst times of their lives. In normal situations, parents and guardians of children with disabilities have temporary jobs to sustain their families. However, when they were not able work due to the lockdown, their conditions worsened. Under such conditions, persons with disabilities suffered more compared to others, as they need special care and attention, constant guidance and most importantly financial assurance”, said Rigzin.
With support from a few international agencies such as Helvatas, UNICEF and JICA, Draktsho managed to retain the employment of several graduates. Sewing machines and other materials were provided to them so that they could work from home and continue to make face masks. Draktsho remains extremely grateful to His Majesty the King of Bhutan for the Kidu support and agencies for helping Draktsho during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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