Project Kadinchey Helped Raised Funds for a School in Bhutan

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The travellers experienced first-hand the harsh conditions that the primary school students had to put up with daily. The school is situated near a remote village, accessible only through a single lane dirt track, some 15 km away from Bumthang town.

Project Kadinchey by Chris Tan and other photographers. (Source: www.leicalogue.com)

In May 2015, Chris Tan (CEO of a company that provides green building energy management solutions) and his wife, together with 10 travellers from a few other South East Asia countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam), most of whom have not met each other before, went for a 7 day trip organised by Leica Akademie to Bhutan.

During the amazing trip to Bhutan, besides the usual Dzongs and Lhakhangs that are normally found on the itineraries of tourists, the group also visited a village school (Dhur Primary School) just before their return flight to Paro, with the help of Dasho Jambay, a previous elected representative from Bumthang they had befriended while they were staying at his lodge.


Witnessed the dire condition of the Dhur Village School first-hand
The travellers experienced first-hand the harsh conditions that the primary school students had to put up with daily. The school is situated near a remote village, accessible only through a single lane dirt track, some 15 km away from Bumthang town.

With less than 2 acres of land, students have to utilise the outdoor area for activities and they had to do their exams all in the same tight space. We were told that some students have to walk for an hour and a half to the school every morning and back. The toilets are bare sheds with no proper flushing system.

Feeling so blessed and grateful for the things Chris has always take for granted back in Singapore, he and the rest of the travellers felt compelled to do something for the students to improve the conditions in the school.

A day after returning to Singapore, Chris and his wife met up with some of the other friends that they made during the fascinating trip to Bhutan and unanimously decided to raise funds to help the children with the photographs they took during since it was their common passion for photography that has brought them together in Bhutan.

The birth of ‘Project Kadinchey’

Thus, Chris took the lead to coordinate the effort for the project named ‘Project Kadinchey’.

The twelve travellers contributed their best shots and the initial funds to get the project going. They also managed to garner support from Leica Camera Asia Pacific and Drukair's Singapore Representative Druk Asia, a tour agency specialising in organising trips to Bhutan.

The group was very grateful that Druk Asia provided seed funds in order to kickstart the project, to have the books professionally laid out, designed and printed. 

Chris and his group were also fortunate to have friends working in design companies and writers who rendered their services pro-bono in the production of the book in order to minimise cost.

At the same time, Chris got in touch with the principal of Dhur Primary School to understand more about the school as well as to get a wish list from them. They also discussed the possibility of constructing a multi-purpose hall for the school so that the children can have their activities indoors without being exposed to the harsh weather in Dhur.

On 9th October 2015, Chris and his group of fellow travellers had their very own exhibition showcasing some of the works and the launch of the photo book hosted by Leica Camera Asia Pacific at the Leica Galerie located at Raffles Hotel Singapore.

100% of the proceeds from sales were channelled to Dhur Primary School

Proceeds of all sales (books and prints) are directed 100% to the fund set up for Dhur Primary School. In a short period of just 2 months, titled "Happiness is a place", the 1000 books printed were sold out and they also received generous donations from friends and individuals that heard about this project and were keen to support the cause.

At the beginning of the year 2016, with the assistance from the principal, quotes were gathered, purchases were made and uniforms, socks and shoes were delivered to the school in preparation for the students’ new school term.

Exactly a year later after Chris and his fellow photographers first visited Bhutan, together with another team member, he and his wife made their 2nd trip in May 2016 to revisit the school. For this particular trip, they delivered teaching materials, laptops, books and stationery that they procured in advance with the help of their previous guide in Thimphu.

Chris and his group brought along the necessary to cook "laksa", a Singapore dish for the children as well as the villagers in Dhur. In return, they were treated to a feast of local Bumthang dishes prepared by the villagers.

Two months later in July 2016, Chris make another trip to meet up with the Minister of Education, Mr Norbu Wangchuk and sought his blessings on this project. With the support from Mr Norbu and the administration of Bumthang dzongkhag, they managed to have a tender calling out for the construction of the hall. Chris’ group also funded the reconstruction of the toilets for the school.

The construction finally started in March 2017 after much delay due to the unfavourable weather conditions and was finally completed by the end of August 2017.

With the kind invitation from the Ministry of Education, Chris and his wife, together with two other team members went back to Dhur Primary School this year in October 2017 to attend the inauguration of the multi-purpose hall.

To close off the project now that the objective of building the hall is completed, Chris and his group used the remaining funds to procure more items like school bags, sanitary essentials, a projection screen, audio system etc for the school.

Chris and his wife are working on more new projects
Though the project has officially ended, Chris and his wife are now exploring more different options in providing assistance to some orphans that they came to know about in Dhur Primary School who may need additional assistance.

With the success of their first project, Chris and his wife are not looking at taking a backseat anytime soon. In fact, they are also working on delivering aids to another school that they came across in Haa during their last visit to Bhutan.

If you are keen to learn more about Project Kadinchey and help out, please visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HappinessIsAPlacePhotoBook/

Written by Zann for the Daily Bhutan.


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