BCE Sports Activism Spirit alive in 2023
We are oh so happy to have participated in the coordination, project-management and fundraising for the launch of Pickleball in Bhutan. What started as a dream by our Founder to bring the game of Pickleball to monasteries in Bhutan to provide a fun and active sport for monks has achieved ignition, to the delight of all. Funds were raised to build three courts at Woochu Sports Arena in Paro, Bhutan, two courts at Dechencholing Higher Secondary School in Thimpu and one court at Talakha Goemba in Thimpu. The launch was accompanied by a traditional blessing ceremony carried out by Monks from the Central Monastic body, with the Paro Lam Neten as the Chief Guest. September 3, 2023 was a special day for all in attendance. It wouldn't have been possible without the support of US donors and 12 volunteers from the US who came to Bhutan for the purpose of coaching and playing the game on the new courts. The volunteers included Helle Sparre and Seymour Rifkind who both taught Bhutanese coaches from Paro College of Education, Royal Thimpu College and Paro FC. Huge support and donations from Selkirk Sports, Gearbox Sports, Onix Sports, and Babalot who provided nets, paddles, balls, bags, and court shoes. Our key co-creators throughout the Pickleball in Bhutan journey was Paro FC. This preeminent Sports Club in Bhutan captured the vision once they understood what Pickleball was about. They donated time, money and infrastructure to the courts at Woochu Sports Arena and remain our steadfast partners as we continue to grow the game throughout Bhutan.
Supporting Collaborations between Bhutan & Oregon Legal Institutions
In 2018, BCE Board Member and attorney Damien Yervasi visited Bhutan to meet associates and learn about the Bhutanese legal system. Efforts were focused for the following year on assisting with the development of a legal aid program in Bhutan. The pandemic changed the course of those efforts. Through our long-time friendship and collaboration with former Supreme Court Justice Dasho Rinzin Penjor, we re-visted the possibilities of a collaboration in 2023. Dasho, now the Vice President of the Bar Council of Bhutan, visited Oregon and attended meetings with hosts from Oregon's esteemed Lewis and Clark Law School and the CEO of Oregon State Bar Association.
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 (BBSA) received Bhutan Olympic Committee Federation status and a paid staff began working to introduce Baseball and Softball to schools at locations around the country. On December 18, 2021 the first ever Age 15 and under League was launched in Thimpu. In 2022 Coach Marvin Moore joined the BBSA team and continues to lead the growth of Baseball in Bhutan. BBSA held their first congress in May 2023. A story that same year by MLB accompanied by a photograph taken by Matt DeSantis sent the story of baseball in Bhutan on a viral trajectory.
Nangyi Aum Restaurant 2020-2023
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. Manager Sonam Choden continues to serve traditional Bhutanese cuisine to a growing following of local citizens and visitors. Visit Nangyi-Aum Restaurant Facebook page for updates.
Bhutan Association of Women Entrepreneurs - BAOWE
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 they visited remote villages in Eastern Bhutan to document the operations and needs of 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. The video provided a visual portrayal of BAOWE's efforts.
Royal Society for the Protection and Care of Animals
In September 2018 we worked with Tashi Payden Tshering, the Director of RSPCA the Royal Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (RSPCA) documenting the work that she and her staff do on behalf of the thousands of street dogs and other animals 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 December, 2018. 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 for Monks at Phajoding
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 several Bhutanese to run the system.