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Guild Talk 'Butan and Nepal' - REVIEW

Stratford sub Castle Guild 13 March 2024 - Elizabeth Waterman

This talk by Elizabeth Waterman arose from the longstanding and devoted work she and her husband John have done for the charity Kidasha over the years. She gave a fascinating account of Bhutan following their trek in Eastern Bhutan - Rodang La trek, specially tailored for them by Mountain Kingdoms using the ‘Red Rice’ route.

Bhutan is a landlocked country of just 800,000 people south of China and north of India. Arriving in Bhutan one is greeted at once by a general feeling of peace and calm. It has kept itself culturally and economically strictly independent, not allowing any visitors till the end of the last century. It has never been colonised and has been formed relatively recently from

many Buddhist fiefdoms. The way of life is based on GNH, gross national happiness, rather than the less relevant GDP (gross domestic product) beloved by the west. In 1971 Bhutan was admitted into the United Nations. The country is 72% forest, with wonderful mountains and it exports hydro-electricity to India.

One of the many Temples visited was the legendary Taktsang Monastery known as the Tiger’s Nest because it is said that the legendary saint, Guru Padmasambhava, flew from Tibet on the back of Yeshe Tsogyal, whom he transformed into a flying tigress for the purpose and landed at the cliff, which he “anointed” as the place for building a monastery.

Archery is the national sport, 145 metres to the target which is very small. Sessions were ended with much dancing, singing and drinking. There are also darts matches – the darts are huge and heavy, and again with a very small target. Weaving is very important, integral to Bhutanese society, every home having a loom. The costumes of the people are very colourful, made with vegetable dyes, and the families dress in their finery when attending the temples and government appointments.

Elizabeth then spoke about Nepal, in particular the charity work of Kidasha that concentrates on the wellbeing of children. Through the local Nepali team on the ground Kidasha understands children’s real needs. They develop and pilot the work directly in the community in partnership with local government and organisations. They reach as many people as possible by building evidence to scale-up successful models and drive

systemic change throughout Nepal. With this approach they improve children’s wellbeing, enable their learning and employment and protect them from abuse and exploitation.

The talk was well illustrated and appreciated by an attentive audience and

afterwards the chairman expressed the gratitude of the Guild.

Charles Villiers


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