Kidu Guesthouse in Kolkata
The Ministry of Health presently has a system of referring patients with illnesses that cannot be treated in Bhutan or those requiring specialized care to India (mainly in Vellore and Kolkata). Each year the Ministry of Health refers about 700-800 patients to Kolkata and about 300-400 patients to Vellore in South India. All costs associated directly with treatment in addition to a small subsistence allowance for the patient and one caregiver are borne by the Royal Government of Bhutan. However, most of the referral cases often require longs duration of treatment in India and the subsistence allowances are not able to meet basic expenses. Since accommodation (for both patient and caregivers) is one of the major expenditures, His Majesty the King has established a basic Kidu Guesthouse currently looked after by the Bhutanese Consulate in Kolkata and funded by the Kidu Foundation. The Kidu guesthouse is located near the Tata Medical Center (Cancer hospital) and it is provided free of cost to anyone who wishes to use it.
Thimphu Medical Hostel Project
While health services are free in the country, there are small segments of the population that cannot bear certain costs associated with undergoing medical treatment. The Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) caters not only to Thimphu City but also to referred cases from all 20 Dzongkhags – being the only national referral hospital in the country. Moreover, JDWNRH is the most sophisticated healthcare facility in the country and most patients requiring special diagnosis have to come to Thimphu. The problem is especially grave for those from remote communities with no relatives in Thimphu and at the same time requiring long-term treatment or rehabilitation.
Thus, despite the government’s free health services, many patients still face serious problems especially in relation to accommodation while being referred or undergoing medical treatment in Thimphu.
In view of the significant shortages of hospital beds in JDWNRH, a hostel for referral patients for the poor and disadvantaged and their caregivers is being undertaken by the Kidu Foundation.
Royal Society for Senior Citizens (RSSC)
The Royal Society for Senior Citizens was established under Royal Patronage with the main aim of giving retired senior citizens with a distinguished career a platform to continue contributing to nation building. As the pool of membership to the Society grows, there is more and more expertise available for those who do need a certain type of specialized service. Some of the activities identified to be taken up by the RSSC include youth mentorship programs, organizing visits to religious and heritage sites, improving health services to senior citizens, providing free legal advice for those who cannot afford legal services, etc. The Kidu Foundation has been working close with the Society to help in its establishment mainly through technical and financial assistance.
The Society has currently proposed to build a Clubhouse – a house that will beused not only as an administrative headquarter but also to bring together all the members to fulfill the overall vision of the Society.
On 11th November 2011, as part of the birth anniversary celebrations of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, the recreational area of the Centenary Park, Thimphu was re-opened for the public following complete refurbishment. Although the park was inaugurated in 2008, the state of the facilities that include seesaws swings and slides deteriorated through time and became unusable by 2011. Consequently the Kidu Foundation restored the park with new and safer recreational equipments.
De-Suung or “Guardians of peace” program was initiated by His Majesty the King based on values of personal development and aimed at encouraging active citizenry through volunteerism. All trainings are held in the Military Training Center in Tencholing with courses varying from value-based lectures, basic military drills, disaster management skills, etc… to instill life-skills for personal development and service to others. The De-Suung training program has been lauded by all as a very successful program based on the spirit of volunteerism. Even though the training program started only in 2011, De-Suups have been playing a very important role in community service – starting from the voluntary services provided during the earthquake relief efforts in 2011,
Wangdue Dzong relief efforts immediately after the fire started, numerous forest fires, vehicle accidents, etc… The most recent contribution was for three weeks during the Punakha Wang (Religious Event) during which over 120,000 people gathered and was recorded as the biggest gathering ever in Bhutan. The De-Suups were involved in all aspects (crowd management, security, traffic control) and which greatly reduced the burden on the Royal Bhutan Police.
Currently, 5 batches of training with over 550 passing out of the course. The aim over the next few years is to train about 6,000 educated people depending on the resources available. With the high numbers of De-Suups completing training, a house to develop a sense of fraternity and bring together the ever growing number of De-Suups is proposed to be built. This house will play a crucial role in strengthening the bond and in keeping together the De-Suup community. The planning phase (site identification, blue print, etc) is over and the resource mobilization phase has just begun.