By Dechen Pem
Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women (RENEW) Community Service Centre in Phuentsholing is the 5th service center and the centre is inaugurated on November 30.
The service center will cater the much needed support ranging from psychosocial counseling services to safe space and referrals to vulnerable population especially the survivors of domestic and Gender Based Violence (DV/GBV). The services will also include livelihood programs, awareness & sensitization engagements of community volunteers and people on public health & social priorities. Residents in Phuentsholing and nearby areas need not travel all the way from Phuentsholing to Thimphu to seek support services.
The center has been established with support from Phuentsholing Thromde, Ministry of Health, RENEW CBSS (Community Based Support System) volunteers and with support from IPPF SARO and Australian Aid. The centre is centrally located next to Phuentsholing fishery. The center is currently being managed by Multi Sectorial Task Force (MSTF)-CBSS volunteers in Phuentsholing. Meanwhile, plans are underway to equip the centre with a full time qualified and trained staff.
Sonam Chuki, focal person, MSTF-CBSS Phuentsholing said, “Phuentsholing being the hub of commercial activities and also due to surge of people coming to the area from other Dzongkhags; RENEW volunteers in Phuentsholing has been seeing an increasing number of GBV cases of severe nature. Particularly during the COVID lockdown, DV and GBV cases had increased significantly. We faced challenges in the absence of service center to provide adequate support services such as safe home and post recovery programs. But now with the establishment of the RENEW centre here, it becomes easier for us to extend assistance to survivors”.
“Through the opening of this centre, survivors, be it men, women or children can seek full support. It is also equipped with necessary bedding, kitchen items and other basic amenities”, said Kuenga Lhaden, Communication Officer, RENEW.
“This is a great initiative by RENEW, in my opinion. The construction and refurbishment of this center will be extremely beneficial to the residents of Phuentsholing Thromde. We feel safe and secured. I believe it will be easy for us to seek assistance and shelter services if any form of domestic abuse emerges”, said Dechen Wangmo, a resident of Phuentsholing.
Kezang Yangden, a shopkeeper in Phuentsholing said, “The community service centers that RENEW operates are well known to me. It is advantageous for those who do not have families close-by to ask for assistance and support. Couples can receive guidance and advice in cases of domestic violence, which could result in a better relationship or a constructive divorce. When compared to the traditional society, where women were unable to speak up about issues of injustice and interpersonal concerns, it has led to a vast improvement. We had to keep quiet about the domestic violence even if we wanted to seek support, but now because of RENEW, we can discuss all of these issues and get support”.
Including the Phuntsholing centre, RENEW has now fully functional five community service centres in Paro, Punakha, Bumthang and Tsirang Dzongkhags. In addition, RENEW has already initiated the process of inaugurating service centres in Samdrupjongkhar, Haa, Zhemgang, Tashigang, Samtse and Sarpang Dzongkhags. RENEW has received support for these centres from UNICEF, UNFPA, IPPF SARO and Australian Aid.