Going out on Wednesday was very funny and educating. The first club – Destiny, very much reminded me of my local hometown disco on a Saturday night, quite bare, smelly, improvised and alive, the next one Space 34 was more established and could have been in London. I arranged with the managers to come again on Saturday night to photograph.
On Thursday morning I edited my photos and met Francoise Pommaret at 11:30 in the art café. She was really helpful, gave me a list of people to contact. She also thinks that the youth issue is the most burning topic shortly followed by one concerning rubbish.
Most people here are not yet aware that this new waste is not biodegradable and just throw everything to the floor. That is quite an issue especially in the countryside.
The main changes in the last 30years according to her are communication, health and education and in all of these sectors there have been major improvements.
In the afternoon I went up to the youth center for my presentation. I met Ugen Gonpel Chef Training Coordinator for the Election Commission Bhutan. I wanted to meet someone from The ECB but couldn’t because they only receive government guests. I asked him a lot of questions and will give him a call later to find out if there is a chance to photograph rural democratic education in action.
Then we started and I stood in front of about 40 young people –year 10 –12 dropouts and students from the It course. They did not look like drop outs as we know them at all, 18-25 very shy and very giggly.
After my talk a young trainee came and showed them the election instrument they are going to use, explained democracy, voting and elections to them, at the end they had to form 4 parties and vote for one, all in all very good and very hands on.
I asked Peimma Kalden the new manager of the youth centre to help me find a family with teenagers to photograph in Thimphu.
But the whole day I felt very weak and not well. I took some medicaments and hoped it would become better but it did not, so I scraped my plans for the evening and only went to visit the Helvetas office, where I met Nado Dukpa, who informed me on some of the projects Helvetas are organising and supporting in Bhutan, Two of which are vocational schools for young rural farmers in Shemgang which I will try and visit when I am there.
In the last couple of days walking around Thimphu I have seen many Indian laborers working very hard and living in very shabby quarters. To most of the people I spoke to about the youth employments problem, they said that part of the problem is that young Bhutanese don't want to do manual labor anymore - they dislike to get their hand dirty.
I think one of the conflicts is between these two lives. The Indian laborers are seasonal workers and `I need to find out about their status and rights.
But to show this problem I will try to photograph their lives too as well as the Bhutanese youth hanging out in clubs and in youth centers. You can see young Indian chaps carrying heavy load while Bhutanese play volleyball next to it. This of course is not wrong but I think it shows visually well what I have heard and seen happening here.
So what do you think about this idea?
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