Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Make Health Your New High

Yesterday was International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. To mark this day, a group of keen cyclists from the Chamkar area organised a 60km bike ride up and over the Kiki-La pass to beyond the village of Gaytsa and back, passing through Chumey on the way, highlighting this year's theme: Make Health your New High in Life, Not Drugs.

Bob has made contacts with people in this group so he was invited to join in. He started early and rode up to Kiki-La at 2980m where the group stopped for refreshments: momos and tea.

Meanwhile I had the boys with me at school as I did some work in the library and we received a call to say the pack were only five  minutes away. We climbed to the top of the ladder that goes over the school fence and watched the road until we saw the cyclists in their fluoro yellow vests appear.

Some of the cyclists have a lot of experience, but for the first timers it would have been a huge effort to make it up and over the mountain. They deserved a break out the front of the school where Xavier, Remy and I greeted them, and their support vehicle stopped to offer drinks and bandage up some sore knees.

Students gathered to see what was going on - it is not everyday that a group of 20 riders plus support staff come through Chumey. Hopefully the message of choosing a healthy life over a life of drug or alcohol addiction made an impact.

Bhutan may be known as the country of Gross National Happiness, but you don't have to look very far to see that alcohol addiction is a common scourge. Within our community, there are many people who are obviously alcohol affected on a daily basis, and in a strange way it seems to be tolerated - even to the point that people are under the influence while at work. Alcohol related disease leads to one of the most common causes of death in this country, liver failure. Meanwhile even in the highschool setting some students have been discovered taking drugs - which isn't such a surprise as marijuana plants grow wild and plentiful all around here.


After Chumey, the group continued on and stopped at the Vocational Training Institute (a technical college for building trades) a bit further up the road. Bob had the chance to take to the podium and speak to the young adults about how leading a life of moderation has allowed him to pursue a rewarding career, travel the world and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He felt really good about having an opportunity to speak in public.

Seeing such a fit, healthy, motivated group of young Bhutanese cyclists will hopefully have an impact on the youth of this region to make good choices for their future.

"Even in a land as peaceful and sacred as Bhutan, the evils of drug abuse are slowly consuming our youth. It is a disease that is fast spreading and affecting many families in Bhutan. Therefore, let's reflect on drug and alchol isssues among youth in our country and reaffirm our commitment to eradicating the disease of addiction to drugs and alcohol"

-Extracted from a Message from Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Pem Wanchuck during the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on 26th June, 2011.


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