‘What are the Gangtey Lodge Team doing whilst Bhutan’s borders and Lodge are closed?’ is a question we often get asked.
We are happy to have kept all our team employed on rotation, whilst they pursue other projects in their free time. Here we interview Kinley Wangchuk (Food and Beverages Attendant) and Kinley Dorji (Spa Manager), about their work as Desuups – the Kingdom’s ‘Guardians of Peace’.
Kinley Wangchuk (Food and Beverage Department)
What did you do / are you doing during the pandemic, when lodge is not operating?
Last winter I completed De-suung training and currently I serve under De-suung National Service Water Project at Tsirang District.
Why did you decide to join De-suung?
I decided to join De-suung because it provides many opportunities for the future in various types of mental and physical skills, as well as being a noble way to pay back to my country during the time of need.
What is the Water Project and when did you start work on it?
The Water project is inspired by the Royal Address of His Majesty The King to the Nation on 12th September 2020. De-suung office has started a pilot project as De-suung National Service Water Projects in the country where hundreds of De-suung members have volunteered their services considering the importance of the project.
The project not only aims to help the community in providing safe and reliable drinking water but also aims to impart new skills and practical knowledge in water management infrastructure to De-suung which will be an invaluable asset.
What working for this project is bringing to you?
To be honest being able to be in De-suung, and being a part of National Service, is a blessing for me and I am very happy with it. With this project we are able to supply drinking water and irrigation water for about 200 households and it brings me a lot of satisfaction, pride and joy.
De-suung training as the main part, and also the National Service Water Project helped me with many things, such as making myself available to the community in case of help, build up my confidence and making myself a responsible person.
After training as De-suung the biggest knowledge, or values, I have gained is to be a responsible citizen and to give back whenever my country is in need of me.
As being part of National Service for Water Projects I have learned the importance of water management, as well as on the spot training in the building of water drainage and irrigation channels.
What are you looking forward to?
I am looking forward to the lodge reopening and always waiting to hear the news about it as I am ready to get back to work.
Kinley Dorji, SPA Manager
Why did you decide to join De-suung (Guardians of Peace)? What date?
Since the start of the pandemic our lodge was closed and there were not many regular activities at the lodge itself, apart from maintaining our own areas, and it gave us a possibility to generate some extra free time.
For that reason I was looking for something interesting, that would be of service to the nation during this critical situation, and I was lucky enough to get selected for the 40th accelerated De-suung training program, which started on 28th May 2020 till 16th June 2020 and was conducted at the Royal Bhutan Army Wing ix, Pelrithang, Gelephu under Sarpang district in Southern Bhutan.
What were your duties and where did you attend them?
After I completed my training, I went for 2nd batch of southern border duty Samtse for a period of two months. The reason we were delegated there was to guard our nation’s boundaries and ensure security for our citizens.
After returning from Samtse I volunteered in several monasteries (i.e Sewla Goenpa, Pangkarpo Goenpa in Punakha and Damchen Lhakhang in Phobjikha) to assist with the renovation.
Also, I volunteered in the distribution of Vitamin C to elder citizens under Royal command, followed by doing duty at Gangtey Monastry, for social distancing during Drupchen festival and Mendrup preparation (religious medicine) and search and rescue for missing people.
In October, coinciding with the royal weeding, we, the Gangtey-Phobjikha Desuups, organized cleaning of nature trails and streams/rivers.
Currently I am working as a De-suung volunteer with the Royal Bhutan Police in patrolling, checking people and vehicles within Gangtey Gewog (district) during the period of lockdown time because of surges in Covid-19 positive cases.
What did you gain as being a member of De-suung? Did it bring you knowledge / value? If yes, what?
Being a member of De-suung is a great privilege for all the citizens as it is our Kings project. This training has benefited me both physically and mentally. It gives lots of military training and techniques which is very crucial for the country at a time when it’s needed. Mentally we are prepared to handle every difficult situation. De-suung meaning is to protect the peace of the country and people on an individual level.
What else did you do during the pandemic? Did you take any courses? Help the community?
To every negative, there is a positive. The pandemic affected our daily job, but it has also given us lots of opportunities to invest in ourselves and to complete different courses. By taking a chance to utilize this time, besides De-suung training, I did a professional driving course, management training, and sexual harassment course. Finally, I passed an exam on a national certification level for my career which would not have happened otherwise.
After becoming a De-suung everything is about serving the country. Either by doing border duty or patrolling during lockdown to prevent the spread of disease in the community, distributing vitamins to the elder citizens and doing cleaning campaigns to maintain our environment.
Apart from being a De-suung we also volunteered to clean the roosting area for the cranes in collaboration with RSPN. During the summer season we, the Gangtey lodge team, have grown some vegetables in our lodge greenhouse, which we shared with some of the elder people in the village.
In February we had heavy snowfall in the Gangtey area which caused a breakdown of the B-Mobile network and cut off the connection to the community. A B-Mobile technician came to repair the network and a team from our lodge went to help. We assisted them until the work was completed and the network was restored for the benefit of all.
Is there anything that you always wanted to do, and did you do it while the lodge is closed?
Being a Bhutanese citizen, born and brought up in a beautiful nation under the guidance of our beloved King, I always wanted to serve the country in every possible way, not only by working in a paid job but also to volunteer in serving the country. Which indeed I fulfilled during this time by getting a chance to get trained as De-suung which was only for degree level and government service before, however, the opportunity was given to whoever was interested to get trained and serve.
Are you looking forward to the lodge reopening?
Though we have got lots of opportunities to explore different things, the lodge reopening is my priority as I worked with the company for several years with the guidance of our seniors and learned lots of new knowledge from guests as well. I always miss our conversations with our guests who come from other parts of the world to see and experience our country and this is giving us the possibility to become the ambassadors of our nation to them. Also, I really miss our team members who are away from the lodge at this time. I cherish our time together: working as a team, to welcome our guests, assisting them whenever possible, and introducing the new experiences. I am eagerly looking forward to the reopening of our lodge and serving with full dedication.