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The Personal Background of Bhakti Bhandari Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Anonymous, Apr 29, 2002
Human Rights   Opinions
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I visited my friends and also the refugee camps at Maidhar. Seeing the over-crowded shacks, poor health conditions, malnutrition, etc., I felt I would lose my mental balance if I lived in the camps, so I decided to stay outside the camps. I then met leaders of different political parties and human rights groups residing in Katmandu to discuss the present state of the movement, and future courses of action. I made efforts to unite the hopelessly fragmented human rights groups.

I joined the Bhutan National Democratic Party in early 1993 and commenced party works. I interviewed the new arrivals regarding the cause of their exodus from the country. As more refugees came into the Nepal camps, they started facing security problems. The refugees and the local people had serious social problems. So the Operations Management and Implementation Unit (OMIU), now the Refugee Co-ordination Unit (RCU), and the UNHCR had to be briefed and consulted with on security and protection issues. I made requests for the posting of police to maintain law and order in and around the camps, and to protect the refugees from the anger of the local community. I visited the camps for data collection on protection issues, and reported on this information to the OMIU (now RCU) and the UNHCR, to further justify the case for security and protection.

As a party member, I started providing the required advice to the refugees managing the camps. They needed consultations regarding the schooling of the refugee children in the camps, and finding teachers to work on a voluntary basis for the benefit of the refugee community.

I helped advise the Bhutanese Refugees Education Committee that was started by the Student Union of Bhutan on how the schools were to be opened and managed. Data collection was done with regard to the available manpower to prepare and motivate possible teachers who would help the children out. Open-air schools were started in some of the camps for refugee children. Educated people provided support for the programme. I was involved in this campaign, which included motivating the voluntary teachers. Caritas Nepal stepped in as a partner in the Refugee Education Programme, the teachers began to receive some incentives, and the schools were established properly.

The refugee food basket did not include cooking fuel, so the refugees were collecting firewood from the forest. They started getting arrested, so this problem had to be addressed. I initiated discussions with the refugee organisations on how this problem could be solved. I submitted three options to the HMGN and UNHCR: (i) provide kerosene and stoves for cooking purposes; (ii) provide firewood through relief agencies, and (iii) allow the refugees to collect firewood.
The Bhutan National Democratic Party appointed me the Joint Secretary for Youth Welfare and Development. The party had launched its youth wing in May 1993. I visited camps with the President of the Democratic Youth of Bhutan to identify potential youths for membership. Group meetings were conducted to convince the young men and women to join the party or the youth wing.

Preparations were made for orientation workshops for these identified youths in consideration of their exposure to this new situation. The youths also needed guidance so that the vested interest groups were not misguiding them. The youths has been expressing their frustration due to lack of opportunities and despondency. The preparation of workshop materials had to be based on needs and the situation. We were also learning in the process.

The topics covered in the workshops were: the purpose of human life; youth and their responsibilities; human rights violation in Bhutan; geopolitics and historical background; political thoughts; forms of government; Himalayan culture; party ideology and the organizational structure; the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the rights and duties of citizens; Bhutanese citizenship laws; Census enumeration during 1988; democracy and the written constitution; system and organs of government; election commission; political parties and their role in democracy. Basic knowledge about these topics was included, translated in Nepali, and printed. I facilitated and deliberated on some of the presentations and topics. We contacted the facilitators for the topics selected, giving them sufficient time to prepare.

I conducted workshops in 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1997 for youth and party workers.

A lot of refugees, especially the activists of different parties and organisations, were living outside the camps. They had to be registered with either the UNHCR or His Majesty’s Government of Nepal. I took up the case for registration of refugees living outside the camps with the RCU.

I established the Central Executive Committee, designated the Camp Focal Points, and entrusted the responsibilities of motivating youths for membership to the organisation. I took the organisation to the grassroots level.

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Youth in Bhutan
Ariel Wyckoff | Oct 21st, 2003
Mr. Bhandari, My name's Ariel Wyckoff and I am with a non-profit group called Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP). You clearly have done alot for the youth of Bhutan, and engaged international support through building partnertships with youth groups in Nepal and India. I find it amazing! My question to you is this: ICP -- the NGO I'm with, in the USA -- focuses on youth service and volunteering. We support regional capacity-building by holding workshops, providing expertise and information, as well as small grants for various programs. Would you like to have some information about current youth projects or events taking place in Bhutan, published in our monthly on-line newsletter? It's called "Service News Worldwide". You can see the first edition at www.icicp.org. Please let me know if you're interested. Ariel Wyckoff e-mail: wyckoff@icicp.org 1776 Massachusetts Ave., NW suite 201 Washington, DC 20036 USA

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