Dechen's Story

For Dechen Wangmo, a young woman in the rural village of Punakha, Bhutan, getting a higher education to work toward an interesting job wasn't easy.

Dechen at work

In 2008, Dechen learned that she had not passed the exams she needed to qualify for college. Because Bhutan has so few public institutions of higher learning, it is very difficult for most students to pursue a higher education. Unable to afford a private education or to leave the country to go to school, Dechen was faced with having to return to farming or menial labor to make ends meet.

Not willing to give up, Dechen started to babysit to earn some extra cash. "I thought I would remain like that for the rest of my life. I started to feel uneasy and restless." Then, Dechen heard about a skills training course offered by the Youth Development Fund in the same building as her local READ Center.

Dechen enrolled in souvenir production training to learn how to embroider, weave and make souvenirs that are sold to tourists.

Dechen was able to enhance her new livelihood by using valuable resources available at the READ Center that she would not have had access to otherwise- design books gave her inspiration and help with her techniques, MS Excel and computers at the READ Center helped her manage her accounts, and free access to the Internet allowed Dechen to connect to potential buyers.

"Having the READ Center here is of immense help to us," says Dechen.

“Earlier we could not even handle a computer and did not have access to resource books. But now we are taught on the use of computer and the Internet and can refer to design books... The feeling that I can now earn my living makes me so satisfied and so proud." Dechen is now able to support herself through the souvenirs that she sells, and she can make her own clothes rather than having to spend money to buy them from local retailers. She is now considering joining a tailor shop to expand her business.

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