Chablop Passang Tshering
When Bhutan Toilet Org was first established in October 2014, it was just a Facebook page. We wanted to use the platform to raise awareness on the condition of public toilets and bring together stakeholders and citizen volunteers for resolving the cross-sectoral issue.
However, later it became clear that the issues were seen and known to everyone, concerns were raised and everyone seemed to be waiting for someone else to take action and lead the change toward supporting the efforts of the government.
In 2015, through the same platform, we managed to raise over 300 volunteers in 18 Dzongkhags and carried out public toilet cleaning campaigns. Over forty public toilets were rehabilitated, repaired and made useable.
The overwhelming support we received did not seem like a random success, rather, a grand reception of an idea whose time has come from within the civil society to
match up to the efforts put in by the government agencies for decades. The responsibility fell on me, but I did not have the experience, resources or the time required to take it forward.
To begin with, I left my prestigious job at the Royal Academy to dedicate my time for the cause, and with time I knew the experience could be gained and resources built.
By 2016, we were going from place to place, arranging and managing toilet facilities during events. It was during one such event that I finally found my vision. My family and I were managing public toilet during Paro Tshechu with some twenty volunteers from Paro College, when His Majesty the King summoned me and gave his blessings and showed me the vision.
The following summer, at the closing ceremony of the Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition, His Majesty addressed me as Chablop, which translates to the ‘toilet teacher’. For the King to have noticed and observed my initiative, to have bestowed me with a prefix in public, carried profound significance. I knew I had done so little to deserve it and I knew it wasn’t for what I have done but for what I must do. The title was to be attached with my name to remind me each day to work toward truly deserving and honouring it.
Institutionalization of Bhutan Toilet Org began in early 2016 and we were granted registration on 17th December 2016. On the same day we were awarded the National Order of Merit (Gold Medal) by His Majesty the King. It was no coincidence but a deliberate effort from the Throne to let us know the seriousness of the cause we were pursuing and to help us overcome all the stigma and stereotypes associated with the work.
In this first formal publication, we are proud to present our journey so far; the initiatives, services and activities that helped bring toilet issues to the national forefront. We are proud to have established ourselves as a credible organization that knows and cares everything about toilets and an effective partner to the government in achieving SDG 6.
I take this opportunity to thank all our ambassadors, donors, volunteers, and institutional partners for your unconditional support and encouragement.