The community-based micro-wool processing centre was formally inaugurated by Dasho Dzongda, Dzongkhag Administration, Tashigang on the 28th of July, 2019. Officials from Dzongkhag and Gewog Administration along with the members of the women’s group of Gengu attended the opening ceremony. Dasho Dzonga congratulated the women’s group for initiating such a pioneer project which will greatly benefit the entire community of Merak. He emphasised members of the women’s group to strive hard to generate income from wool processing and uphold the ancient tradition and culture of weaving. He also reminded the members of potential to produce and market high quality woollen yarn to other potential buyers and weavers. He assured support of Dzongkha Administration to make the women’s group’s wool processing initiatives economically viable and sustainable.
Two wool processing equipment installed and commissioned
Recently a micro wool carding and a roving/drawing equipment were successfully installed and commissioned. Project office, CSO Grant Facility, Helvetas, Thimphu has awarded the supply contract to Ms Sherab Enterprise, Thimphu through a competitive bidding process. The members of the woman’s group are excited to see wool processing equipment of this kind for the first time in their life. Each member has agreed to contribute Nu 600 (USD 8) towards meeting the cost of a formal inauguration and opening of the micro wool processing centre. District and local government officials and representative from CSO Facility are expected to grace the opening ceremony scheduled on 28th of July, 2019.
Gathered for a feast: why not
On 4th December,2018 members of the women’s group have gathered for a simple feast inside the newly constructed wool processing shed to celebrate the momentous occasion. More than the number of dishes on the menu, it was an important gathering to reinforce collective action, a sense of community and self-help. A journey begins with a step and the completion of the shed heralds a giant step and a watershed moment.
Wool processing shed is getting ready
On 3rd December, 2018, the members of women’s group of Merak came together to celebrate the successful completion of the construction of community-based wool processing shed in a record time. However, the concreting of the floor, electricity and water supply works remain to be taken up later. For now members deserve a well deserved pat on their backs and congratulations.
The next step is to procure, install and commission micro wool processing equipment. Helvetas, Bhutan with the help of a private supplier is already exploring potential suppliers from India or third countries. Can’t wait to see the community-based wool processing centre being operationalized and witness herders taking charge of the facility.
Stone collection and foundation works in progress
Members of the women group have started collecting stones and digging foundation for the community wool processing centre. The group has hired an excavator and a drum truck to ferry stones from the quarry to the construction site. Forestry permit for timber is under process and members will start collecting timber as soon as it is ready. Talks are underway to get electricity connection from the national grid.
Ground breaking ceremony
Dasho Dungpa, Sakteng Dungkhag, Tashigang Dzongkhag graced the grounding breaking ceremony for the construction of micro-wool processing centre at Merak on 29th September 2028. Dasho congratulated the women’s group for the successful application for CSO Grant Facility fund support for wool processing. Dasho reminded the members to work collectively for the success of the project. He said their success and good example can spur herders of Sakteng to emulate And bring socioeconomic benefits and women empowerment. Dasho informed the members to contact him or his office for any assistance henceforth.
Today Dasho Dungpa witnessed and opened the actual start of the wool processing construction works.
The architectural drawing of a one storeyed community wool processing centre is ready and a budget of BTN 500,000 is earmarked for constructing the centre. The women’s group members will contribute labour and other in-kind contributions.
Lease land certificate
The semi-nomadic yak herder women’s group of Merak was successful in acquiring 1.23 acres of government land in Merak on a long term lease for building the community wool processing centre. The lease is from 21/8/2018 to 21/8/2038.
Training on project fund management (12-16 March, 2018, Thimphu)
The group Chairperson, Treasurer and Secretary participated in the 5-day training program on project fund management organized by CSO Grant Facility, Helvetas Bhutan. Grantees were introduced to project fund disbursement, record keeping and expenditure reporting procedures. The training provided an interactive platform for members of the semi-nomadic yak herder women’s group to interact with other grantees and project management officials, share experiences, potential challenges and issues during project implementation.
The Journey Begins
Welcome onboard beautiful folks out there! Please join the semi-nomadic yak herder women group of Merak, eastern Bhutan on its journey of discovery and tryst with a modern technology. The group is establishing a community-based mechanized micro-wool processing centre to enhance efficiency of wool processing and ensure continuity of ancient culture and tradition of weaving their unique dress. It is a first in Bhutan and the expected benefits have greatly enthused the women group members.
The group has secured a project funding of BTN 2,210,000 (EURO 29466.57) from European Union financed Civil Society Organization Grant Facility, Helvetas Bhutan. The project duration is for two years (2018 and 2019).