In the past, Bhutan had a very close community in which the youth and the elders would be constantly interacting with each other. The youth would learn many values from the elders thorough the medium of stories and art/craft. What we treasure the most were stories by the elders as we sat by the fire.
In recent years, with modernization and with the new age technology, the gap between the elders and the youth seems to be widening. Rural urban migrations can also be attributed to modernization. Amongst all these modern changes, we can see our values slowly slipping by. Unlike the earlier days, volunteerism now is seen as a hobby for those who are wealthy or otherwise.
Therefore, VAST Bhutan organized a Summer Art Camp themed, “Art for Community” in Kabesa, Punakha. The camp’s intention was to provide a glimpse of the hardships that farmers face at the height of summer and how they come together to overcome it like in the old times.The Camp participants were taken through this age old practice to realize the power of unity and oneness. The camp was from July 4-10, 2015. There were 70 student participants from Thimphu, Punakha READ Center, Kabesa Middle Secondary School and members of VAST Bhutan.
The “Art for Community” summer camp was funded by READ Bhutan and organized by VAST Bhutan.
During the camp, the participants were divided into groups and they were asked to produce works of art using found materials. The participants went on a 3 hour adventurous trek to Hokha Tsho (Lake) where they were given first hand experience in team work and adventure.They walked for yet another 3 hours to Rangrikha village where the 4th Rice Bank was established by VAST Bhutan with support from various donors. Here the participants helped to carry rice for distribution,interacted with the Rice Bank recipients and, learnt and understood the problems of these families.
The participants had a home-stay experience in two of the Rice Bank recipients’ houses. The participants were also involved in “changla chabni” (rice plantation).
On the last day of the camp, the participants exhibited their artwork. The oldest man, Ahlu Sangay (92), from the village was invited as the Chief Guest. The villagers were also invited to the closing lunch and to witness the exhibition. Representatives from READ Bhutan also attended the closing ceremony.
This camp was a huge success and all of us left with a better understanding of the people and the community,and a desire to make a difference, however small, in the communities we live in.