I had a nice long talk with Asha Kama. I asked him about the unemployment situation in Bhutan, because the best way to solve this problem is probably what he and the other volunteers are offering to the youth of Bhutan. Not more jobs, not even skills, though they do provide that, in the area of art. The most important thing that members of VAST come out with is a sense of self worth, as Asha Kama said. And that is where the whole issue of unemployment comes in. Art is one career to be pursued. Becoming an artist is one career option. If VAST was teaching only drawing, painting and sculpture, it wouldn’t be doing much. But it is making an astounding difference in people’s lives. It has helped the young people discover their talents, to polish it, and learn self respect through the simple act of creativity. Not all members of VAST will become artists, not all of them will be exceptional talents. But they all will learn that basic self worth, that they do can create something worthwhile. Asha Kama says we need more places like VAST.
“The main problem with unemployment in Bhutan is that the people are not getting the jobs that they want to do,” he said. And I have been discovering over the course of my reporting career that it is so true.
I have been after the ‘unemployment’ story ever since I joined Bhutan Today, exploring different facets of this problem. The education, unemployability, self employment, opportunities, job market. And one thing that keep coming up in all my interviews with the people who have no work is that they do not know what they want to do. I never met anyone who wants to become something specific, and has not got that particular job. They do have a dream job. I once went around asking people what they wanted to become when they were young, their dream job. I got interesting answers. But these dreams are forgotten now. Everyone wants a ‘cushy 9-5 job’. They may hate it, they may groan every morning while getting out of beds to go for this job, but they want it.
Why do people give up on their dreams? It is not possible, they say. they are not confident. They don’t dare to fight it out and make a living doing something that they would love to do. To do that needs strength that can only come from an unwavering sense of self worth. Not by having schools where the academically inclined are praised and the weak are failed. Not in a place where potentials are never discovered.
We need more places like VAST, so that people of different types realize that they are not failures. Or not even average. To give them a chance to shine at something…. help them discover what it is that they shine at.
Imagine a place where everyone loves passionately what they do. Unemployment will only be one minor problem that will be solved.