Singaporean Woman Helps a Leprosy Couple

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A Singaporean woman helped renovate their one storied dwelling and provided the family with mattresses and rations to last a few months. Jean, a speech therapist from Singapore who is their benefactor, said that she decided to help after learning about the plight of the family.

A couple with leprosy gets help from a Singaporean woman. (Source: thebhutanese.bt)

Concern about their children’s education

How they will educate their two children after they complete grade 10 is the main concern of Dorji and Ugyen Yangzom, a leper couple living within the Gidagom Leprosy hospital campus, about 25 km from Thimphu.

Their son Ugyen Phuntsho, 11, is in class IV and daughter Sangay Zangmo, 7, is in class I in Bjimina Primary School.

“If they do not qualify for government school after class X then both may suffer like us,” said the mother, Ugyen Yangzom, 35, from Drametse, Mongar. Her husband Dorji, 60, from Sisina, Paro, works as the hospital’s gardener for Nu 7,000 a month.

Background of the Leprosy couple

Ugyen said that she got leprosy at 15 while her husband got infected at 35. Ugyen is a double amputee and she uses prosthetics legs. “I lost my legs 10 years ago due to the disease,” she said. As a result of late treatment her fingers also got deformed which is why she cannot do any heavy work. Dorji, her husband, is partially paralyzed on his right hand and leg and he stutters a lot so she speaks on behalf of the family.

Since the family lives in the hospital campus, they do not have to pay rent and electricity bills. Ugyen said that there are a few local people who help the family with money and school uniforms for the children.

Help from a Singaporean woman

A Singaporean woman helped renovate their one storied dwelling and provided the family with mattresses and rations to last a few months. Jean, a speech therapist from Singapore who is their benefactor, said that she decided to help after learning about the plight of the family.

She came to Bhutan as a tourist in 2015. Since then she started visiting Bhutan frequently to conduct workshops to parents and ECCD facilitators on how to deal with disabled people.

“I have helped a few people who are really in need by myself. Some of my friends in Singapore know about my frequent visits to Bhutan which is why they wanted to donate to the needy families whereby this time, we have chosen the leprosy couple in Gidagom,” she said.

Jean emphasised that their priority is to help the children with education although their parents are still working. “We did not give the family money; instead we have given a transformation to the house and some necessities. We don’t want to spoil or we don’t want them to rely on us by promising too much. We cannot be certain how long we will pay them or help them,” she said.

“We told them that if they are not going to keep up with their cleanliness or if the children are not going to study then we are not going to help them anymore.” Gardener Dorji has reached retirement age but on request the hospital has extended his term of stay.

 

By Damchoe Pem (This article has been edited for the Bhutan Times)

This article first appeared on The Bhutanese.


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