Hailing from a remote village in Lhuntshi in the easternmost part of Bhutan, Thinley Dorji was a student at the CTAS who had joined the school in 2002 and successfully graduated in 2009. Due to financial difficulties and personal circumstances, he was forced to drop out of primary school in 3rd grade. Today he is standing on his own feet, while supporting his parents and three siblings and says that CTAS has made this possible and attending the school had been the best decision of his life. “The school has provided me the opportunity to develop myself and now, not only am I able to support my family but I can also give back to the school by supporting the school as the chairman of the Alumni Association. Supporting the school in every possible way has given me immense joy and satisfaction and I am glad that this year we were able to successfully bring many alumni resources and experts that helped the school. I hope to be able to continuously support the school”.
Today he is working with another successful alumni, Sangay Tenzin, who had graduated from the school in 2007. Sangay Tenzin has repeatedly proved to be a role model and an inspiration for the students at CTAS and provides employment opportunities for our students. Thinley Dorji has collaborated with Sangay Tenzin on numerous occasions and carried out many projects together. Some of his works can be seen in the Kilikha Monastery in Mongar and Sefu Monastery in Wangdiphodrang. Thinley Dorji talks about the incredible progress he has made since the beginning and says “I am proud to see my works all over the country and being able to uphold our traditions and preserving our arts and crafts is something that I take great pride in. I am grateful to the school and all the well-wishers and supporters who have created such an opportunity and paving a bright future for youths like us. I wouldn’t be where I am without it and I am thankful and happy to be where I am now.”
Besides the graduates and certificate level, our drop outs are also equally doing very well and keeping up with their skills they have learned at our school. One such student is Mani Dorji, who is currently thirty-three years old. He joined CTAS in 2001 and after his father passed away, he had to look after his fatherâ€™s responsibility in the village and hence left school in 2005. He worked in the village for two years and after settling his late fatherâ€™s responsibility, he came back to Thimphu to pursue his career in painting, to make use of the skills gained in the school. Today he works in Yang Bung Art Gallery, Thimphu as a painter and doing very well. He is leading a very comfortable life at the same time able to help his old mother and sister back in the village. He is helping educate his sisters children. He plans to establish an Art Gallery of his own and create employment opportunities for students graduating from CTAS. He became the chairman of the CTAS Alumni Association in 2016 and introduced opening of the membership to the dropout students like himself who are passionate to contribute to the system.
"My name is Pema Tshering and I am studying in final year carving section. I would like to take this great privilege to share some of our study tour experience with school management, friends and all the supporters. First of all we would like to thank our school, Himalayan Youth Foundation and all the supporters for the support given to us. We will never forget your kindness which has helped us to become self independent person in our life. We also want to thank everyone for giving us a study tour program which our batch feels very special and lucky. Many of our friends have never been to other districts and it was a golden opportunity for us to visit many places and temples. We were able to see many houses, temples and statues of gods and goddess built in 7th Century by high lamas. The in-charge of the dzongs and monasteries told us stories and meanings of the designs that are on the walls as paintings and carvings. The 10days study program from Thimphu till Bumthang has helped us to understand the meaning and important significant of our arts and crafts. So lastly my friends and I will never forget the kindness and care the school has given to us during our stay in the school. We also want to thank Himalayan Youth Foundation and all our supporters for giving us this golden opportunity in our life. THANK YOU! "
"My name is Manisha Rai. Currently I am in my final year (7th year) of the painting course. I will be graduating this November. I joined CTAS in 2012 and I was very eager to learn traditional painting. I studied till eighth grade in Phuntsholing but did not qualify for the next grade. Since I am the oldest child, it was difficult for my parents to support my education. We are 6 children in the family. I am very interested in art and have seen men doing the traditional painting everywhere, so I too decided to become one of them. In the beginning I was not feeling comfortable because I had never seen women doing the painting work in Bhutan. I asked my parents about my interest to study thanka painting and they supported me. I heard about CTAS in BBS and also from our neighbors, so I decided to study thanka painting at CTAS. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to study this art of my choice and interest. Looking back, I feel very happy that I made the decision to study thanka painting. Today I feel extremely happy to graduate as the first female thanka painter from our school. I have learned a lot beside the painting and hope to contribute and share all I know with all the people I come across in my life. The school has helped me realized my dream. Without CTAS I would never have made it. I would like to thank all the supporters, teachers, madam Principal and everyone for being part of this success story of mine. My deepest respect, gratitude and thanks to Ms. Leila and Mr. Koenraad Foulon for the opportunities for a better life you created for our girls here at CTAS. We are all very grateful for your support and love. As I said being the first lady to graduate as Thanka painter from our school, I have an additional responsibility for our future girls especially for those who are reluctant to take this course even if they have the ability and passion for this art. I promise to work hard and make everyone proud and to keep up to the expectation."
The father of Yanka, who is studying in his 5th year Thanka painting, visited CTAS on 26th October 2017. He visited our school to express his and his familyâ€™s gratitude for giving his son and other children who are coming from poor and financially disadvantaged families an opportunity to study art and crafts at CTAS. Yankaâ€™s father explained that the school has not only helped his son to become a skilled artist but that the program helps children to get employed and thus help their families, neighbours and their communities as well. As a sign of his gratitude to the school he and his son Yanka hosted a special lunch for all staff and students. The school would like to thank Yankaâ€™s father for coming all the way from his village in Wangdiphodrang to offer his appreciation and for the delicious lunch.
"My name is Pem Dem. I just completed my second year in Tailoring section. My parents are both farmers and I have one brother and two sisters. My village is Agona in the Punakha district. I studied till tenth grade in Punakha and could not qualify further. I heard about this school from my friends and I got the opportunity to study in this school. From an early age I have been interested in arts and crafts. We are very fortunate to get all the support from the school which has helped me to learn many new lessons in life and in tailoring class.
Reflecting on these two years: I came here basically with no knowledge nor skills but now I understand a lot about how to behave, think positively and work in a team and I can stitch many items and souvenirs. I feel very happy. The school has taught me the importance of respect to others and to gain respect from others too. I am also grateful to the school for helping me develop my self-confidence and making us independent so that we can earn a decent living after we complete our program here. I am happy that I got a job offer to work with a friend of one of my teachers who runs a tailoring business. I am very excited and I hope that I will gain lots of experiences working with professionals. In the future I plan to start my own tailoring business. Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our school supporters, Dasho Choki, teachers, madam Principal and all my friends for the wonderful time and good memories I enjoyed at CTAS. I pray and hope that the school will continue to support and care for students like us and I will keep in heart and cherish the love, care and all the good experiences that I got. Thank you!"
My name is Pem Dem. I just completed my second year in Tailoring section. My parents are both farmers and I have one brother and two sisters. My village is Agona in the Punakha district. I studied till tenth grade in Punakha and could not qualify further. I heard about this school from my friends and I got the opportunity to study in this school. From an early age I have been interested in arts and crafts. We are very fortunate to get all the support from the school which has helped me to learn many new lessons in life and in tailoring class. Reflecting on these two years: I came here basically with no knowledge nor skills but now I understand a lot about how to behave, think positively and work in a team and I can stitch many items and souvenirs. I feel very happy. The school has taught me the importance of respect to others and to gain respect from others too. I am also grateful to the school for helping me develop my self-confidence and making us independent so that we can earn a decent living after we complete our program here. I am happy that I got a job offer to work with a friend of one of my teachers who runs a tailoring business. I am very excited and I hope that I will gain lots of experiences working with professionals. In the future I plan to start my own tailoring business. Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our school supporters, Dasho Choki, teachers, madam Principal and all my friends for the wonderful time and good memories I enjoyed at CTAS. I pray and hope that the school will continue to support and care for students like us and I will keep in heart and cherish the love, care and all the good experiences that I got. Thank you!
"My name is Tandin Dorji, one of the graduating students of the painting section 2016. I am from Nongar, Shumar geog under PemaGatshel (Eastern part of Bhutan). I am the only child of my divorced parents and brought up by my grandmother. I studied till class four at Zilukha Primary School, Thimphu. After that my grandmother could no longer pay for my education. She encouraged me to join the painting school at CTAS. My father helped me to get admission in this school. I took painting class as the painting work inspired me a lot. My father was also a painter. My biggest concern whether I would be able to compete with the others students who were much older than me. I always consoled myself that I had to succeed and work hard. The first two years were quite a challenge and I couldnâ€™t get the courage to compete with the others. But I work hard and finally my dream of learning the art of painting came true. I cannot believe that I have completed my course and gradated this year from the school. I already have a job offer to work with my brotherâ€™s painting project. I have enjoyed every moment of my life here and now feel very sad to leave all my friends, teachers and staff. I would like advice all the young students studying at CTAS to never get defeated and to never give up but to work hard and participate in all the activities of the school as it helps us to become a better person. I thank Dasho Choki and all the supporters for giving us this wonderful opportunity in our life. I will always be grateful and pray for your good health and long life."
Gyem Lham is from Limji, Dangchu geog under Wangdiphodrang (central Bhutan). She is the eldest daughter of her family. She was brought up by her mother in the village. Her mother is now married and has two children from her step father. Gyem Lham studied at Dangchu Primary School till class two and stopped going to school because of family problems. She completed her 5-year program in the weaving section this year. She shared that she took the course in weaving because she was very interested in textiles and determined to learn this art. She is very happy that she got the opportunity to learn at CTAS and now going back with all these skills and knowledge. She feels she has learned a lot more than what she had expected and with all the skills that she acquired she feels very confident to face her new life and enter the job market. She also feels very proud that by successfully completing the weaving course and tailoring class she has fulfilled one pillar of Gross National Happiness (GNH) in the promotion and preservation of our culture. Her plan is to run a small business of her own in a few years and to teach interested young girls the art of weaving. She thanked all the supporters and well wisher both within Bhutan and abroad, Dasho Choki, teachers and staff for supporting the students and for guiding them in their life.
"My name is Dorji Namgay and I graduated in 2009 from the painting course. I am now 29 years old and father of one child. Currently I am working in the Buddhist Art Gallery, a private entity in Thimphu. I am very happy with my life and feel very fortunate to be able to earn a decent income to support my family and to help my parents in the village. Before I joined CTAS, I studied till class four and had to stay back in the village to help my parents in the field. However, I am passionate about the arts and painting and always looked for an opportunity. One fine morning my uncle told me about CTAS and he told me that the school supports students like me who have lots of interest and come from poor family background. I was very excited and happy and my parents were equally very delighted by my uncleâ€™s news. We asked my uncle to take me with him to Thimphu. It was my first journey outside my village (Bongmin, under Radi geog in Tashigang District). I felt extremely lucky to be admitted to CTAS and pursue my dream of becoming a professional painter. CTAS has become my second home and I started to like everything, my new friends, teachers, food, activities in the school etc. It is a golden privilege for students like me who come from poor family background to get free art education and to get the chance to become somebody in our life. The words are limited to express how grateful I am to Dasho Choki and his family, teachers, staff and all the supporters of the school for making me what I am today. I will always remain grateful and will pray for your long and happy life. Kadenchey la!"