On 8 November 2022, the Association of Friends of Bhutan, Austria and Tarayana Foundation in Bhutan signed a cooperation agreement. The City of Vienna awarded our association a grant of 29,000 Euros to enable 35 women mountain farmers from the Lhuentse district to purchase small motorized ploughs with the help of microcredits. Tarayana will implement the project, the goal of which is to enable the women, who currently practice only subsistence agriculture, to expand their agricultural productivity, thereby generating income and improving the livelihood of their families. Read more
As part of the project “Strengthening access to justice for victims of gender-based violence in Bhutan”, also a two-month tailoring course for women was financed (project partner RENEW; with funding from the Austrian Ministry of Social Affairs/JugendEineWelt). The training should promote their economic independence and enable them to generate an independent income. During a project visit of our association in November we could convince ourselves of the newly gained skills of the 19 female participants and the only male participant of the course from Rinchengang. With great commitment, the women are now already making kiras, tegos and wanjus, the traditional clothing of women in Bhutan, as well as other products and are already receiving orders for sewing work.Read more
Together with the Swiss and the German-Himalayan Bhutan Societies we support the Bhutanese non-governmental organization Ability Bhutan Society. It trains facilitators in the Early Childhood and Development Centers (ECCD) in Trashi Yangtse, in the far northeast of Bhutan, in the early identification and early intervention for children with disabilities. 20 ECCD facilitators will be equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to take appropriate action for the support and inclusion of children and their families. Read more
For two years, the meeting, already planned for 2020, had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Finally, from 14 to 18 September 2022, representatives from 13 European countries and Bhutan met at the invitation of the President of the Hungarian Friendship Society, Zoltan Valcsicsak, and his team. Austria was represented by Claudia Lisa, Christine A. Jantscher and Dr. Michael Raffling. Read more
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.
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.Read more
Muenselling Institut in Trashigang, Bhutan
Access to digital technology for visually impaired children at Bhutan’s school for the blind
Muenselling 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
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….
by Sonam Tshering, lecturer RITH
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 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.
- 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.