By Jamtsho Wangyel
A group on Facebook Humans of Thimphu has struck an instant chord with Bhutanese nitizens across the country as it garnered more than 37,000 page likes just in span of less than a year.
Formed in October last year by a group of six school-going kids, the page has so far posted more than 200 stories and roped-in more than 40,000 fan followers on their social media page making it one of the most popular pages in the country.
A team member said the inspiration to create the page was derived from the popular Indian Facebook page Humans of Bombay so that it can be a platform to share inspiring stories of hope and reconciliation among our communities.
Initially, the group tried to focus and write stories about people in and around Thimphu locality as interviewing individuals living in the capital was more convenient than travelling to other Dzongkhags. However, over time their coverage has been widespread and all-encompassing.
The group member and admin of the page said that the pandemic also gave impetus to the growth of their page as they could go fully online and capitalize on the growing social media user base in the country.
“We never intended to establish Humans of Thimphu to become so influential among our society; rather we did it out of their own enthusiasm. Later, after receiving overwhelming responses from the readers, the group started taking the project seriously and felt that they could do something positive,” an admin of the group said.
He added that their page has become very instrumental in addressing social issues like sexual harassment, domestic violence and removing social stigma.
One of the most rewarding experience of having created the page is that, people has been very receptive and has reciprocated well with their inspiring stories. A few individuals even turned up to the group to help others who were in dire need, and which was made possible only through their stories.
The team said they write stories on random issues and to create awareness in the society. They publish ten stories a month and post it on their page at exactly 9 P.M to help readers ponder over the issues before they go to bed.
Despite all the attention and love, some of the major challenges they face are that some people ask them to remove their stories after it is being published on their page. They say the pros outweigh the cons and, therefore, removing their posts is the last thing on their minds.
Another challenge they face is that though people want to share their stories, many of them are faced with a dilemma as the stories could bring them unnecessary embarrassment and hate comments from the readers. In addition, lack of finance is also one major stumbling block the group faces.
“We have approached around 15 organizations for support but only few of them came forward to help us,” a team member said, reflecting their plight on agencies and organizations turning a blind eye to their cause.
The page admins also make sure that a photograph of the featured person is also published as they want readers to reflect and get absorbed into the story. It also gives a complete narrative to their stories which otherwise could be incomplete or half-baked without their photographs.
Other issue like exposing the person to unnecessary criticisms and embarrassment is also taken care of as their stories have a huge impact both on the readers as well as to those featured in their stories.
The group members are all aged between 19-26 and comprises mostly of students and a freelance photographer.
Despite being new to the fray, this group of young guns are hell bent on creating an impact with their page, and also address critical social issues the country is facing with their new found arsenal.
And, by the look and development of things they are not too far in achieving that dream.