General Assembly of the Friends of Bhutan Association Austria on the 11th November 2021

The third general assembly of the Association of Friends of Bhutan took place on November 11, 2021 at the Hotel Palais Kempinski with the participation of 19 members and guests.  As a guest of honor, the President Liselotte Waldheim-Natural welcomed Univ. Prof. Dr. Hermann Mückler, the president of the Federation of Austrian-Foreign Societies – PaN, of which our Association of Friends of Bhutan is a member.

H.E. Tenzin Rondel Wangchuk addressed the Assembly via Zoom

The Ambassador of Bhutan to Austria based in Geneva, H.E. Tenzin R. Wangchuk addressed his message to the assembly via Zoom and presented the De-suung Skilling Program initiated by His Majesty the 5th King, which aims to give young people in Bhutan skills and abilities in various professional fields and thus a start in professional life. We are also looking for trainers from Austria for this program.

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Muenselling – education for visually impaired children

Muenselling Institut in Trashigang, Bhutan

Access to digital technology for visually impaired children at Bhutan’s school for the blind

Logo MueMuenselling Institute in Trashigang, located in the east of Bhutan is the only school for the blind in the country. Today, 24 students are enrolled. Improved access to digital media will make students become more digitally literate and ensures an inclusive and equitable quality of education for Bhutan’s visually impaired children.  Together with the Austrian Agency for Development Cooperation (ADA), the Association of Friends of Bhutan, Austria supports the Muenselling Institute in Trashigang with 12 smart TVs and associated equipment. The project is a contribution to SDG Goal 4 Inclusive, equal and high-quality education.

Learning and Teaching with modern equipment

Using a computer, getting information and exchanging information via the Internet has become a matter of course for us. Whether in professional or private life, the use of modern information and communication technologies (ICT) has become an integral part of our everyday lives. For visually impaired people, modern ICT open up new opportunities to participate in everyday life on an equal footing. In education, there are new perspectives for visually impaired children to access learning materials. Modern technological devices applied in special needs education can further help to improve the learning outcomes of visually impaired children.

What is a Smart TV?

A smart TV allows visually impaired persons to participate equally in social life. It offers additional features such as a voice guide, color intensive mode, magnification mode among other features to easily access content. Reading is easier because texts can be enlarged and learning materials can also be accessed acoustically. Additionally, equipping a classroom with smart TVs offers   up-to-date teaching methods for teachers and provides them new opportunities of interaction with the visually impaired students. 24 students are benefitting from this project. The smart TVs and associated electronic devices ensure that visually impaired students have better access to learning materials.


Bhutan signed the UN- Disability Rights Convention in 2010 and is working on its ratification. The convention stipulates, that blind and visually impaired persons must have the same opportunities in the education system as everyone else. This project makes a valuable contribution to supporting Bhutan on its way to an inclusive society, especially regarding SDG 4.

Project name: Enhancement of ICT access and learning for students with vision impairment, Khaling
Financing: Small project fund of the Austrian Agency for Development Cooperation (ADA)
with a budget of 9.596 Euro (82%) and a fund from Friends of Bhutan Association, Austria with 2.010 Euro (18%).
Project phase: 13 July – 15 October 2021
Thematic focus: Inclusive Education & Social Justice
SDG Tracker: SDG4 Inclusive and equitable education, SDG 10 Reduce inequalities

How it all started. Forest Entomology in Bhutan

Heinrich Schmutzenhofer with Kaka, final degree of Kaka, November 2016
Heinrich Schmutzenhofer with Kaka, final degree of Kaka, November 2016

Our association member,  Heinrich Schmutzenhofer, can look back on a particularly long joint history between Austria and Bhutan. The official development cooperation between Austria and Bhutan began under his initiative. We asked him to tell us his very personal story, about his work and his impressions from this time and about how it all began….

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 Royal Institute for Tourism and Hospitality (RITH) during the first year of COVID-19

by Sonam Tshering, lecturer RITH

Royal Institute for Tourism and Hospitality
Royal Institute for Tourism and Hospitality

Bhutan recorded its first case of novel coronavirus in the country on 6th March 2020. The Prime Minister announced that the government worked on all arrangements under the direct supervision of none other than His Majesty the King. His Majesty was concerned of the unfortunate traveler and advised the government to take care of him and his partner. With the contacts beings traced overnight, the boarding house of the Royal Institute for Tourism and Hospitality (RITH) was identified by the government as a quarantine facility. The students had to vacate their rooms instantly and the boarding house was cleaned thoroughly to welcome the contacts of the first case into the boarding house for observation. Their wellbeing was taken care of throughout the quarantine period. The Office of His Majesty’s Secretariat provided all the necessary amenities such as water boilers, TVs, heaters and extra blankets to make the stay of the contacts comfortable. Read more

RENEW: Computer Lab and ICT Training for Women and Girls

Participants of the ICT Training
Participants of the ICT Training

RENEW with support from Friends of Bhutan Austria (FOBA) conducted a three day “Basic Financial Literacy and Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Tutorial”, with 30 participants, 28 female and 2 male. The training took place from 12th to 14th November, 2020  at Gawaling Happy Home, Wangsisina, Thimphu. In addition, FOBA provided four computers for the computer lab for disadvantaged women and girls.
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Finally! BESKOP – The first film-streaming platform of CINEMA from BHUTAN

the_container ©BESKOP

Created to

  • Support Bhutanese filmmakers and community
  • Share Bhutanese cinema with the world
  • Create an online archive, history, and community for Bhutanese cinema
  • Inspire, spotlight, celebrate arts, voices, stories


Support Bhutan’s fight against the Co-vid pandemic.
Currently, until further notice, 20% of all proceeds will go towards Bhutan’s Covid Fund which supports those most affected by the pandemic and its lockdowns and closures.

Training for Neuronavigation in JDWNR Hospital

Training for Neuronavigation in JDWNR Hospital

Dr. Maschke trains staff of JDWNR Hospital

The young doctor Dr. Svenja Maschke is specialised in the use of neuronavigation devices. At the moment she is training assistant doctors and technical personnel at the JDWNR Hospital Thimphu in the use of such a device.

During the highly intensive three-week training in Bhutan, the required software skills are to be trained and enhanced in order to be used in the operating theatre. Another major objective is to pass on the knowledge to further interested assistant doctors and technical personnel. Read more

Health Care. A visit to Dagana

Dagana Hospital

Dagana HospitalSix doctors are supposed to work in Dagana. When we visited this southern Bhutanese district in August 2019, we met a lone doctor in the little hospital in the district town. Unfortunately, he was also about to leave to be deployed in Thimphu. Doctors are a “scarce species“ not only in Dagana. Nationwide, there are currently only three doctors per 10 000 citizens. (12th Five Year Plan, S.85f).

Dagapela District Hospital

 We did not meet a doctor in the larger district hospital in Dagapela, but we had the chance to talk to highly professional and motivated nurses. Mr. Prem Neopanay and Ms.Tshering  Dema presented  a well organised and relatively well-equipped hospital regarding human and technical resources. Read more

Longstanding Relations Revived

Longstanding Relations Revived

This summer Karma Dorji, a young Bhutanese student of Criminology at the University of New Brunswick, Canada was offered insight into the work at Criminal Intelligence Service Austria.

Austria and Bhutan have had long-standing relations on police level since two officers of the Royal Bhutan Body Guard and the Royal Bhutan Police participated in a 10-week training of the Austrian Special Operations Unit WEGA in 2002. This was continued by a follow-up some years later and numerous contacts and visits both on professional and private level. Read more

30th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Austria and Bhutan

30th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Austria and Bhutan
Ehrengast Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuck

22 August 2019. Her Excellency, the Austrian Ambassador to Bhutan, Brigitte Öppinger-Walchshofer hosted a reception at the Royal Institute for Tourism and Hospitality (RITH). Her Royal Highness Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuck graced the event as the Guest of Honour.

Numerous Ministers of the Royal Government and Bhutanese dignitaries participated in the reception on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Austria and Bhutan.  Austrian musicians entertained the guests with traditional Austrian music. Two representatives of the Friends of Bhutan Association Austria have also been invited to participate in this memorable event.

The venue of the celebrations, the Royal Institute for Tourism and Hospitality (RITH), presents an outstanding example of cooperation between Austria and Bhutan. Construction and refurbishment of the school building as well as the training of the young Bhutanese tourism professionals has been supported by Austria since 2008. Tourism Schools Salzburg have been significantly involved in the curriculum and capacity development of  RITH. Diploma programs offered by RITH are also certified by Tourism Schools Salzburg. Read more