A Canadian-funded project enables students at the centres to turn out this handiwork
T-shirts with Bhutanese images printed at home will soon hit the local market.
The imprints will be the handiwork of intellectually challenged children attending Draktsho vocational centre for special children and youth in Thimphu.
The deputy director of Draktsho centre, Deki Zam, said the cloth printing is a new trade for the intellectually challenged children, who cannot learn basic academics or vocational skills.
It is an outcome of a project implemented through the Canadian fund for local initiatives (CFLI) by the Canadian government office based in Nepal.
Through the fund OF 24,000 Canadian dollars, Draktsho centres in Thimphu and Rongthong, Trashigang acquired 10 tailoring machines, nine embroidery machines, drilling machines, and a cloth-printing machine, among others.
Of the total budget, more than Nu 370,000 was spent to buy equipment, while raw materials expenditure came up to about Nu 840,000 Deki Zam said.
According to officiating principal of the centre in Trashigang, Yeshey Tenzin, in the past five months, the vocational centre has produced until now the most number of handmade products for sale. “New machines and raw materials made them eager to learn,” Yeshey said. “Earlier we couldn’t afford as much raw materials, so students had difficulty in practicing, and it deterred many from participating.”
Their centre now has 13 tailoring machines, including three new ones, loads of raw materials and other equipment.
Of the 44 students at the centre, 19 are girls.
“The students had to take turns because of limited equipment, which also hampered their progress,” Deki Zam said.
The project benefits 56 disabled children in the two centres.
The centre in Thimphu, which is running short of space, converted a verandah into classroom, using plyboard bought with the fund.
Draktsho centre in Thimphu was established in 2001 and the centre, in Trashigang, with boarding facility, was set up in 2010. The two centres offer lessons in art, carpentry, tailoring, basket weaving, and souvenir making.
More than 70 students have graduated from the centres, and most are employed with the private sector or are self-employed. A few work in government agencies.
By Tshering Palden