All you need to know about De-suups (Guardians of Peace) in Bhutan
Whenever there’s a disaster, trouble, or a need, the guardians of peace are deployed, almost like magic.
What is a Desuup?
Shrouded in orange, they serve tirelessly, like guardians watching over Bhutan.
They are graduates of the Desuung programme.
“De” originates from “Dekyid” which means peace. “Suung” refers to guarding. Therefore, Desuung means “Guardians of Peace”.
Launched on February 14, 2011 by the fifth King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the De-suung programme aims to encourage citizens to take up a role in nation-building. The training aspires to develop among the participants a sense of community and foster teamwork. Most importantly, it instils in them a spirit of “volunteerism”.
Any citizen who has undergone this training is encouraged to assist during disaster relief, participate in charitable activities, and be of service to those around them.
The volunteers are called Desuups.
At the time of writing, Bhutan has trained 45 batches of Desuups — a total of 22,095 trainees, 8,157 females and 13,938 males.
Contributions of the Desuups
On 30th June 2021, the Desuups were mobilised to aid the police following an unfortunate landslide near Torobari. The landslide claimed two lives.
This is just one example of the kind of disaster response the De-suups are involved in. They were also there to help when the historic Wangdue Dzong caught fire.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic started, they have been deployed all over the country, including manning 24-hour flu clinics.
Desuups were also providing assistance to distribute hand sanitisers and deliver goods to the communities when lockdowns were implemented in the country. Aside from that, the desuups are also stationed at borders and involved in patrolling to keep the nation safe.
More recently, thousands of desuups were deployed to assist in vaccine delivery and helped ensure that citizens report for vaccination during the historic nationwide vaccination programme in March 2021.
Furthermore, 30 Desuups, known as Desuup plus, were trained as basic frontline responders to assist nurses should Bhutan enter a red-stage of the pandemic.
Tshechu and National Events
During peacetime, you can also see the orange-clad volunteers playing vital roles such as crowd control to ensure that the festivals can run smoothly.
Their presence always brings much reassurance to the event-goers.
The King recognises the importance of a safe and reliable water source. Therefore, the Desuups have embarked on a series of water projects to ensure that the people of Bhutan have a constant supply of clean water.
The pilot project, the Guma Water Project, was launched to address a drinking water problem in the three Chiwogs of Phulingsoom, Changyuel Thara Tashijong, and Docha Ritsa. The water was sourced from the Jajab Menchu stream and channelled to 258 households via an intake structure, two transmission lines, and two reservoirs.
Subsequently, the Semjong Water Project, Kalapang Water Project, Dangdung Water Project, Geling Water Project, Naja Water Project, and others were launched.
Recently, the Desuung have partnered with the Gasa Dzongkhag Engineering Sector, and several other relevant personnels, to implement the Ramina Water Project.
Their goal is to construct a structure that includes a prefabricated water tank, 2 break pressure tanks, and an intake structure of 3.3 km. 192 households will benefit from this.
The project is scheduled to be completed by 27 October 2021, and will later be handed over to the Dzongkhag who will be responsible for upkeep and operation.
Mobilising the Desuups
The De-suups have their own app, available on the IOS and android system.
Whenever there’s a need for De-suups, the people in charge would post on the app, and any qualified De-suup is free to volunteer. When there is a disaster and dire need for Desuups, the gojay (captain) would reach out to them through messaging apps instead.
Quite often, the Desuups are mobilised within a short amount of time.
The Desuung Honour Code
The De-suups have a code of honour, and it reads like this:
I, as De-suup, will keep service to my nation before my own safety and comfort.
I, as De-suup, will remain honest in thoughts and upright in actions.
I, as De-suup, will protect the national heritage even at the cost of my own life.
I, as De-suup, will never vacillate from integrity to my motherland and loyalty to my Supreme Commander.
I, as De-suup, will always volunteer for service to TSA-WA-SUM at any point of time.
I, as De-suup, will never let down my Supreme Commander and my fellow De-suups.
I, as De-suup, vow in the name of the deity of our motherland that I will abide by this honour code always and every time.
The De-Suung Logo
The Desuung logo was designed based on Bhutanese motif. The Dorji (thunderbolt) represents fearlessness and indestructibility. The main shaft denotes the Monarchy, which symbolises national unity, strength and harmony. Meanwhile, the raven depicts the Monarchy who is the Supreme Commander and Chief of the armed forces. Also, the Norbu (jewels) refers to wisdom.
The Desuung’s connection to society is portrayed by wings in five colours — symbolising the lay, spiritual, executive, judiciary, and the legislature.
Bhutan is the only country in the world that can mobilise and engage citizen volunteers at this scale.
So next time you’re in Bhutan, and you see a Desuup clad in orange, thank them for their diligent service, for they are the guardians that bring peace upon Bhutan.
Ask any Desuup and they will tell you that they are extremely proud to be able to serve their King, Country and People.