Saturday, October 17, 2015


To celebrate the 60th Birth Anniversary of the Fourth King and jointly contribute to the National Year of Reading, Druk School conducted a campaign to collect funds to purchase books for a remote school in the Torres Strait Islands. The school's name is Tagai State College Erub Campus. It is a small primary school of 49 students in a community of only 376 people. A teacher at the school posted a plea via Facebook requesting 2 books to be sent by any person who could afford to do so as all the students in the school had read every book in the their library.

I approached the principal requesting that we as a school make it a project to collect books and send them as a part of our reading year celebrations. Madam Tshewang Choden Wangdi immediately embraced the idea and suggested we ask for money not books so that we wouldn’t get inappropriate or double copies. We established that the brief should be to purchase only books about Bhutan and as far as possible written by Bhutanese authors.  The response was overwhelming.

The donations were collected over a period of only two weeks as we wanted to ensure that the books reached the children in Australia before the end of this academic year.

Class X parents initiated the collection at the close of their final meeting for the year, donating a massive Nu11,000. Students were also incredibly receptive to the needs of others and willingly donated in small amounts on a daily basis. I instantly noticed those same children who had come to my desk earlier in the year when I announced I had brought 30 books from Australia with me. They were the keenest readers who weren’t aware that this was a secret reading challenge to see which class would take the initiative and respond. In total students contributed Nu 6,900 and several classes were proud to say that every single member made a donation. Such is the power of giving. The teachers and staff also pledged to donate in varying amounts and as soon as our salaries were paid that pledge was acknowledged and another Nu 12,170 arrived. 

Thus our FUNDS COLLECTED reached NGULTRUM 30, 070

After the initial 2 shopping expeditions the question of the postage became pressing. How much of our funds would have to go towards postage, needed to be established. The incredibly useful Bhutan Postal Services website indicated that it would be about Nu12, 000 and I promptly explained this to the principal who like me was shocked. Never a one to let obstacles stand in her way our Madam Tshewang then came up with the brilliant idea of seeking the support of the CEO of the Postal Services. She and I met this charming man and after a brief discussion it was agreed that the parcel could be sent at a discounted rate. I am indebted to him for his generosity in sponsoring this project and acknowledging that it was a worthy cause and a concrete way in which the post office could support reading year.

Off I went on my third shopping expedition for books, estimating the final weight and spending all that we could on children’s books, which highlighted the beauty of Bhutanese culture and spread the message of happiness. In the end there were some books that had to be doubled up as we really had exhausted all the titles applicable to the student cohort, but I am sure that won’t be a problem. They will certainly have the largest collection of Bhutanese books in Australia, and possibly the Southern Hemisphere, in their library.

I purchased from every book supplier in Thimphu and was able to get a 10% discount for schools when I explained the project from many of them so our grand total of 62 books was reached with the help and assistance of many in the community as well as our own school. We also included a brief note to the school and some prayer flags for the students to fly in Torres Strait. We now wait with baited breath to hear that our books have arrived and that the students of Tagai State College Erub Campus are enjoying them. 

Everyone enjoyed playing their part in completing a circle of donation of books. I have to end by saying that the whole idea for this project came to me because of the books, which were written by ex-BCF teacher Andrea Chisholm and published and distributed this year through generous donations of people from Australia, Bhutan and around the world. It was also she who suggested to this teacher to put out her plea on Facebook. It seems perfect to complete the circle of love by having Bhutanese donate books to a school in a remote area of her home state Queensland.

I am sure that the Fourth King himself, as the inspiration and initiator of many education projects and an avid supporter of reading, would be pleased with this outcome.

Thank you to everyone who made this possible. Tashi Delek.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

oNe PhOtO a DaY: SePtEmBeR

wEeK oNe SePtEmBeR 2015


MONDAY 31st WARM: It was still warm enough at the end of the school day for children to be out on the ground and playing without getting sunburnt or drenched in the monsoon rain. Winter is definitely coming but for now it is pleasantly warm.

TUESDAY 1ST IN MY WARDROBE: What wardrobe! Mostly orange and up front the ‘tego’ and gorgeous new orange ‘wangdue’ I just took off.

WEDNESDAY 2ND HAPPINESS IS …: being on a filed trip and having a water fight.

THURSDAY 3RD BEDTIME:  Sometimes bedtime looks just like this. One last 'shot' at down time before I crash

FRIDAY 4TH MY PASSION: my greatest passion would have to be teaching. I love coming up with new ideas and activities to engage kids. This is one from a few weeks ago because there aren’t any photos of today’s huge success as I was too busy pulling it off at the time. The interconnectedness of our actions on the environment was what this one was all about: drag down and squat down for negative impact stand up and pull up for positive. These kids loved it!!

SATURDAY 5TH “SPARKLE”: There couldn’t have been a better prompt for the class IV to VI production of “The Lion King”, which was held today to commemorate to 60th Birth Anniversary of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo popularly known as the Lion King of Bhutan. There was so much sparkle, glitter and exuberance on stage with royalty in the audience that I just had to choose this shot of the dancers twirling and spinning and still beaming at HRH Ashi Dorji Wangmo one of the 4th King’s four wives!

SUNDAY 6TH IN THE AIR: Prayer Flags flying high in the air above Thimphu Valley

wEeK tWo SePtEmBeR 2015


MONDAY 7th SUNLIGHT: Sunlight streaming down on us at morning assembly this morning. It really felt like summer and that the monsoon was over today. Time will tell.

TUESDAY 8TH HELP: I borrowed this book from a dear friend and colleague and read it in 2 days; there has to be some advantage to being house bound with a strained back. I hope it is going to help me understand some of my students better and help them get more out of their education.  It is interesting reading despite the very Indian context or maybe because of it.

WEDNESDAY 9TH I HEAR: Most times we are at home we hear the sounds of these construction workers in the site next door. They work well into the night. It is certainly slow progress when it's almost all done with manual labour, even the cement mixing. I guess I am lucky that I hear voices, shovels and hammering and not machinery.

THURSDAY 10TH I SEE: I see some painful times ahead but hopefully full recovery with this diagnosis and treatment plan

FRIDAY 11TH TASTE: A favourite fusion dish combining local organic veggies in a miso soup with noodles I love it and don’t make it often enough

SATURDAY 12TH OPPOSITE: Expresso Affogato perfection in opposites - cold and hot in an ice-cream and coffee combination. Sorry it is a day late I had to wait to get to my favourite cafe in Thimphu to order it and take this shot. I have not been able to get it out of my head since I saw this prompt 

SUNDAY 13TH WOW!: Living in Bhutan has to be the biggest wow factor I know. Even after 4 years I am wowed and in awe. The tshechu and the masked dances are certainly the biggest wow of the year and this archive shot captures the raw energy and spectacular dramatic effect of this living, ancient tradition

second choice

SUNDAY 13TH WOW!: It would have seemed so much less than wow only a week ago but this lumbar support belt has been in my possession and I my body for less than 24 hours and already mobility has increased and I am not imagining nightmare scenarios.

wEeK tHrEe SePtEmBeR 2015


MONDAY 14th I’M PROUD OF THIS: I'm proud of this. My once shabby and faded favourite shoes just got a makeover with orange food colouring. Maybe they will dye my feet the same colour but since it's my favourite colour anyway and my fingers already are, why worry. I wouldn't dream of putting such a thing in food but it surely can't hurt my feet. Oh the projects you dream up when you need to remain indoors and immobile. Now where to store the leftovers?  With the spices or shoe polish???

TUESDAY 15TH TO MY LEFT: After a 3 hour session at the hospital this landmark of Thimphu -the Memorial Chorten, was to my left as I walked into town. I'm always a little bewildered walking with this on the left as all chortens should be circumambulated clockwise keeping the chorten itself on your right. Traffic certainly can't travel in the direction I was but plenty of pedestrians were. I guess the fence precluded us from that necessity.

WEDNESDAY 16TH TO MY RIGHT: Many of my colleagues, the teachers of Druk, lined up on my right and seeking shade and rest during the long speeches at early morning assembly

THURSDAY 17TH I NEVER……: After four and a half days off school I never thought I would get through this pile of marking which materialized on my desk the moment I returned

FRIDAY 18TH MY OWN: Undeniably I have my very own sense of Bhutanese style. Just a little bit modern and a lot traditional!

SATURDAY 19TH CANDY: Flying half way across Bhutan from Paro to Bumthang yesterday I felt like a kid in a candy store. On a 25-minute flight I took over 80 photos but this one is my favourite

wEeK fOuR SePtEmBeR 2015


SUNDAY 20TH PERSPECTIVE: you get a whole different perspective on these incredible maypole style prayer flag structures when you stand inside them

MONDAY 21st RED: Nothing more sums up Bhutan than chillies. Right now is the season of freshly picked red chillies

TUESDAY 22ND ORANGE: Traditional Buddhist designs painted on an orange background on the beams above the doorway of an old Bhutanese stone school building in Gaytsa

WEDNESDAY 23RD YELLOW: These little, yellow memorial sculptures are found all over Bhutan. They often signify the loss of a loved one and can be any colour or plain white. These were among thousands in Bumthang district at Membar Tsho or Burning Lake, where we visited today

THURSDAY 24TH GREEN: The green mask of the Garuda at the local Tshechu festival we walked into today

FRIDAY 25TH BLUE: Blue Prayer Flag against a blue sky

SATURDAY 26TH PINK: Right now the fields are awash with pink and white as the cosmos are in full bloom across Bhutan

SUNDAY 27TH RAINBOW: This beautiful illustration from the book "Prince Siddhartha- the story of Buddha" shows with rainbows the moment of Buddha's enlightenment

wEeK fIvE SePtEmBeR 2015


MONDAY 28th NOTE: I made this little note card myself at 6:30 this morning because I wanted to return to school after our 9-day break with the small gift for the nicest principal I have ever had the privilege to work with
TUESDAY 29TH I WISH…….: for many big universal things like world peace, free, accessible education and end to domestic violence and sexual abuse but as a teacher this message stuck a cord tonight. I wish all kids were as grateful as the beautiful soul and former student, who sent this message to my husband tonight. Priceless ….

WEDNESDAY 30TH KIND: Two very kind colleagues who have been an immense help to me this year. Not surprised to see one helping the other at the end of the school day when just about everyone is rushing to go home. Small acts of kindness move the world. Play it forward

THURSDAY 1ST OOPS: Oops the power went out several times today, for varying lengths of time and so we had to use the old fashioned way of ringing the end of lesson bells. In fact it is out again right now but since I'm home I’m not fussed at all

FRIDAY 2ND GARDEN: Even in a school with limited space there is always enough room for a little garden to bring colour and cheer 

SATURDAY 3RD I SAW THIS: Today I saw this wonderful kid, who happens to be one of my favourite little people, get his first real bike, after watching him enthralled by the Internet sites absorbed in bikes earlier in the week. Excitement was written all over his face. Best surprise ever Junu and Letho

SUNDAY 4TH TRADITION: There is a remote island school in the Torres Straits that is about to get a big injection of Bhutanese tradition and culture in the form of books. As a part of the celebration of National Reading Year, Druk School in Thimphu is conducting a book drive to supply the library. Many thanks to the parents of year X students who made donations yesterday supplying our first 35 books, purchased today