From Violence to Peace: The Story Of A Former Gang Leader

One late evening in 2006, 19-year-old Kencho was walking home from Rigsum Institute in Thimphu where he was studying IT. All of a sudden, a group of unidentified boys encircled him and started hitting him indiscriminately. The incident left him utterly shocked and traumatized. He had no clues why he was attacked and who were the culprits. Since that day, he began to feel insecure to be alone. In the following days, he started contacting his close friends and brought them together to discuss how they should have their own defense mechanism so that others won’t be able to threaten them in the future. A series of meetings and discussions he had with his friends over the span of few months eventually led to the birth of MB Boys (Mass Brothers Boys) in 2007 under his leadership.

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Happy Teachers’ Day 2017

Happy Teachers' Day poster. Image courtesy:

Today is yet another special occasion to remember and honor those beautiful souls who have taught us how to read and write, and to distinguish between what is wrong and right. We all are the direct products of sacrifices made by our teachers who have committed their entire life to show us the path that has led us where we are now. Had it not been for their selfless contributions and hard work, we would have never got the inner vision of our life. They are the ones who have ignited our imaginations and dreams, and instilled in us the love of learning. Every teacher often goes beyond his or her prescribed role to support and guide the students onto the right path. It is absolutely true that if a teacher fails, the entire society fails. Looking at our own successes today, it is clear that none of our teachers has ever failed.

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The key messages to the youth of Bhutan from the fifth YouTurn Talk

Photo of Youth Center staff with Lama Shenphen after the inspirational talk

During the fifth YouTurn event held at DYS Auditorium in Thimphu on the evening of Friday, 31st March 2017, Lama Shenphen Zangpo made his message to the youth of Bhutan loud and clear. Speaking from the Buddhist’s perspective, he said that a peaceful mind is the most important factor that can promise a happy and content life. If your mind is not in peace, you will never be happy even if you are the richest person in this world. So whether you are happy or not mainly depends on your inner peace and self-contentment. As Buddhists, we don’t have to try to become good human beings because we are born with natural goodness or the Buddha Nature. The only thing we should do is to cleanse ourselves from the negative qualities such as desires, ignorance, jealousy, greed, and ego and anger which chain us to endless suffering and pain every day. We should never let those factors obscure our mind and block our path to enlightenment. Another major source of unhappiness is that we focus too much on what we don’t have and often forget to focus on what we have. It is important to be content with what we have because too much expectations would always bring disappointments and frustrations. If we learn to appreciate what we already have, we can have a happier life than the rest of the people. In a nutshell, the following were some of the key messages he conveyed to the youth of Bhutan.

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Five inspirational stories that might help you start your day with a positive mind

Life becomes so dull at times that we often need external inspiration and motivation to push it forward. I believe that positive energy is something that can be transferred from one person to another but we should know exactly how to tap it. Whenever we feel low and desperate, all we need is someone who can give extra thrust to our life through their experiences and stories. The real beauty of life lies deep within the layers of problems that engulf us and to get to the core to conquer this precious jewel, we often need some external forces to push us from behind. At the end of the day, a positive mind is what matters the most. The following five inspirational stories may help you change the way you look at life.

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Reaching out to youth through a smart phone

Photo of me in front of Tashi Namgay Resort in Paro, the venue for the workshop

Today I was in Paro with other four colleagues from my office to attend the advocacy program on the use of mPowerYOUth, a mobile application designed to help youth access various services provided by various agencies working for young people in Bhutan. This application has been developed by the Department of Youth and Sports, MoE in collaboration with the G2C Office as part of the government’s efforts to streamline and enhance the public service delivery. With this application in place, it is expected that youth will be able to avail various services just through their mobile phones and hence, their needs and concerns can be taken care of easily.

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The price children pay for their parents’ divorce

Last night, I was browsing through Thimphu Confession Page on Facebook and I was very sad to find so many people sharing their painful experiences of being the innocent victims of domestic violence and broken families. Some of the stories even brought tears to my eyes. I had not realized that the hostility between the separated parents could go even beyond their boundaries to torture their children. I have copied two stories testifying how painful it is to be deprived of the opportunity to grow up with both the parents and siblings.

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Remembering my teachers on Teachers’ Day

Happy Teachers' Day. Poster courtesy: Google

If the future of a nation is decided inside a classroom, we all know who are the extraordinary souls behind this entire process of creating a better world for all of us to live in. Today is the special day for us to honor and salute our selfless teachers for their immense contributions to the society by making us what we are today. Many teachers who have taught me have gone beyond their prescribed role to equip me with even those skills and knowledge outside the textbooks. I have realized that anybody can explain what is written in a book but teachers often have to walk extra miles to nurture us and guide us onto the right path. So on this auspicious occasion, I would like to remember from the core of my heart all the teachers who have really made a difference in my life.

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International Mother Earth Day 2016

Earth Day 2016 Poster. Image courtesy: Google

As a citizen of one of the greenest nations on the planet, I am very happy to learn that the leaders of more than 170 countries are meeting at the UN Headquarters in New York today to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change coinciding with the 46th International Mother Earth Day. This is a clear indication that the voice of the Paris Climate Summit held in December 2015 was loud enough to inspire and motivate many world leaders to action. As the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is being signed, many countries observed the International Mother Earth Day today on the UN theme: “Trees for Earth”. Since 1970, 22nd April has been designated as Earth Day to channel human energy towards environmental issues and highlight the importance of saving the planet Earth by planting trees. The world commits today to plant 7.8 billion trees within the next five years. This means that by the time we observe the 50th International Mother Earth Day, our planet will be much greener than it is today.

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Welcoming 2016

Happy New Year 2016. Poster courtesy: Google

I am surprised how fast time has slipped away. Within no time, we have spent the twelve precious months of our life since the day we celebrated the New Year last year and due to God’s grace and the blessings of those who had wished us around this time last year, we could successfully make it to 2016. I hope God will continue to bless us like this throughout this year and beyond. Today as we welcome the year 2016, I think it’s time to look back and reflect on some of the best moments we have had in 2015. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on the mistakes we have committed over the past one year and take forward the lessons we have learned from those mistakes.

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On the 60th birth anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan

Photo of Fourth Druk Gyalpo during his coronation

The heart of every Bhutanese is throbbing with excitement and joy at the moment as the nation comes together for the historic celebration of the auspicious 60th birth anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. All the cities and towns are brimming with life and music as various forms of artistic displays and decorations add extraordinary glamour to the existing charm of the natural landscape. People from different segments of the society and from different walks of life have come together with various initiatives to join the nation in celebrating such an auspicious occasion. This is the day we had been waiting for to offer our wishes and prayers for the long and peaceful life of our beloved king, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and express our special gratitude for his selfless contributions to making Bhutan a safer place for all of us to live in for ages. As Bhutanese, we have thousands of reasons to celebrate this historic moment tomorrow.

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Message for the youth of Bhutan on International Youth Day 2015

The observance of International Youth Day 2015 today on the theme “Youth Civic Engagement” gives us a special opportunity to reflect on and recognize the potential of our youth as valuable human and social capital resources. Bhutan is a small country with just over 700,000 population. Yet, the Royal Government of Bhutan has understood one thing throughout the history of the country, the dynamic strengths of our youth. Young people make up a significant portion of Bhutanese population. The latest statistics according to the report on Sexual and Reproductive Health of Adolescents and Youth (NSB, 2015) indicates that about 56 percent of Bhutanese people are below the age of 25. Because of this, the Royal Government has been placing so much importance on the wellbeing of our youth and has been investing a huge amount of resources on promoting youth development programs and services in the country.

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Happy Friendship Day 2015

Happy friendship card. Courtesy: Google.

People say friends are like flowers and I truly believe it. I have met so many special individuals in my life who have made my life much easier and comfortable. When I was crying with pain, I always had somebody to sit beside me to stop my tears, and when I was happy, I always had somebody to smile with me. I didn’t really get the opportunity to grow up with my parents and siblings as my mother died when I was four and all my siblings died before I went to school. But those tragedies did not empty my world. I was glad that wherever I went, I always had a circle of good friends who never made me feel lonely.

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Happy Mother’s Day 2015

Happy Mother's Day. Image source: Google

Today is a special day for all the mothers in the world. It’s Mothers’ Day and it is an auspicious occasion for all of us to let our own mom and our children’s mother know how special they are and how their sacrifices and love mean a lot to the family and the society at large. In many countries, children send gifts and flowers to their mothers to honor them for their immense contributions to the family and the nation as a whole. On this special occasion, I am very glad to see my own children prepare Mother’s Day greeting cards for their mom. It’s such a lovely gesture of their appreciation for her love, care and sacrifices for them. My wife is happy to know how much our children value her love and affection. She thanked them for such lovely cards and wishes.
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Happy Teachers’ Day 2015

Happy Teachers' Day. Image source: Google.

Today as we celebrate the birth anniversary of our third king late Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the father of modern Bhutan, it is also a special day for all of us in Bhutan to remember the divine architects of this nation’s future: our beloved teachers and acknowledge the selfless contributions and sacrifices they have made to make us what we are today. I believe teachers are like candles. They consume themselves to light up the world of others. I strongly believe that it requires a lot of passion, commitment, dedication, love and patience to become a true teacher.
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Another precious young soul of Bhutan gone forever

Photo of butter-lamps burning. God bless his poor soul!

I can’t still believe what has happened yesterday morning. It’s very sad to know that one of our active and sincere youth volunteers has taken his own life. When I first heard the news last night, my heart literarily froze with pain and grief. It’s really a tragic moment for his family, friends and all of us at the Department of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education. Tandin was a very sincere and active volunteer who had been taking an active part in our programs and activities. He had been volunteering with us since a couple of years ago and he had helped us during so many important programs. He was studying in Motithang High School and I know he had a very bright future ahead of him. But today, it’s painful to know that he is no more with us.
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