Preventing Alcoholism through Art in Bhutan

Kids at Art Camp

Alcoholism is a challenging problem around the world. In Bhutan, most farmers brew their own liquor and responsible drinking is accepted as part of its culture. However with the challenges of modernization, excessive drinking that leads to alcoholism is a growing issue with a long-term adverse impact. We believe that the Bhutan’s youth are the future of the country, so our team in Bhutan took a preventative, creative approach to educate them about the dangers of alcoholism. The main message was not “prohibition” but rather to develop informed youth and highlight alcoholism as a disease and addiction that creates social disharmony.

Children painting

In collaboration with VAST, READ hosts regular art camps and trainings for youth at READ Centers in Bhutan. This winter, VAST and READ, with additional support from Bhutan Foundation, hosted an art camp in Chuzagang on the effects of alcoholism, designed to meaningfully engage 80 youth from around the country during their holiday break. The students learned about alcoholism from a local health representative, held group discussions, participated in team-building exercises, and learned painting and drawing techniques.

Drawing Class

While it was clear from the art displayed that the students had learned about the repercussions of alcoholism, the program’s impact extended beyond individual students.

“I know that if I share my knowledge of the ill-effects of alcohol, I can make a big difference in someone’s life,” said Phuntsho Dorji, a student from Punakha.

By using art, READ Bhutan and VAST took a challenging, abstract, cultural issue and gave students the opportunity to express themselves and learn from each other. Another art camp will be held this summer in the Rongthong community in Trashigang.

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