In January 2021 BCE began discussions with our friend and colleague Matt DeSantis about the possibilities of supporting his efforts to develop a baseball and softball program in Bhutan. Over months of negotiations and securing of funds, Bhutan Baseball and Softball Association received Bhutan Olympic Committee Federation status and a paid staff began working to introduce Baseball and Softball and Baseball 5 to schools at locations around the country. On December 18, 2021 the first ever Age 15 and under League was launched in Thimpu.
In the spring of 2020 with the support of Bhutan Association of Women Entrepreneurs (BAOWE) BCE funded the remodel of Nangyi-Aum Restaurant in Thimpu, the capital city of Bhutan. The remodel was completed just before the COVID 19 virus pandemic caused the shutdown of most businesses in the country. While awaiting the return of tourists to the country, manager Sonam Choden continues to serve traditional Bhutanese cuisine to a growing following of local citizens. Visit Nangyi-Aum Restaurant Facebook page for updates.
In spring of 2019 Kathleen Kiefer returned to Bhutan to assist with the production of a video to document the efforts of women participating in programs developed by the Bhutan Association of Women Entrepreneurs (BAOWE). Traveling with a small team of BAOWE staff the effort was to visit remote villages in Eastern Bhutan to document the operations and needs of some of the rural entrepreneurs. After fives days of travel, a short video was compiled and presented at a National Consultative Workshop conducted to present results on Decentralized Coordination and Partnerships for Gender Equality. Damchae Dem, Founder and CEO of BAOWE was a key presenter at the workshop and the video provided a visual portrayal of BAOWE's efforts.
Assess possibilities for
Legal Aide and Mediation
In October 2018 Kathleen and Damien went to Bhutan to attend meetings to determine the possibilities and process for establishing Legal Aide and Mediation Services in Bhutan. Our host was Justice Rinzin Penjor who served on the Supreme Court of Bhutan. Rob Kaplan and his wife Kelly from San Diego, CA joined us for a meeting with Justice Penjor and several other Bhutanese attorneys and legal professionals. During this trip Kathleen met with Tashi Payden and the staff at RSPCA to see how things were going at the shelter. Several additional pieces of equipment for the sound system were delivered. Several meetings were held with Damchae Dem from the Bhutan Association of Women Entrepreneurs (BAOWE) to discuss future projects between Bhutan Cultural Exchange and BAOWE.
In September 2017 we worked with Tashi Payden Tshering, the Director of RSPCA documenting the work that she and her staff do on behalf of the thousands of street dogs of Bhutan. We met with Tashi and the Prime Minister of Agriculture, the Director of Agriculture and RSPCA board members to determine what could be done to raise funds to renovate the shelter at Serbithang Animal Welfare Center near Thimpu, Bhutan. We completed the website in April, 2018. You can view it here. This interview with an RSPCA board member is a precious expression of the deep regard Buddhists have for all life. It was an honor to be part of this project.
Soccer shoes and socks
Soccer Shoes and Socks for monks at Phajoding Monastery
Mike Scellick of Ephtata Athletic Club in Ephrata, WA, donated 26 pairs of soccer socks and 16 pairs of soccer shoes in various sizes for the young monks of Phajoding Monastery in Thimpu, Bhutan. Bhutan Cultural Exchange transported the shoes and socks to Bhutan from Spokane, Washington and arranged for their delivery to the monastery in April, 2017.
Wireless Sound System for Rinpung Dzong
In April 2017, we installed a new wireless sound system at the Rinpung Dzong in Paro, Bhutan in advance of the annual Tshechu Festival In 2017 the festival was held from April 7 through the 11th. The sound system was a huge success. For the first time ever, an audience of 3,000+ people a day were able to clearly hear the master of ceremonies, the singers, musicians, and the jesters. We provided four new powered speakers, a mixer board, 10 wireless microphones with rechargeable batteries and charger packs. Bhutan Cultural Exchange donated the equipment along with air freight from Spokane, Washington to Bangkok, Thailand and the expertise of Gene Colburn to install and test the system. Gene also trained a Bhutanese sound engineer to run the system in years to come.