Since we first traveled to Bhutan in 2001, this country has had a special place in our hearts. From its soaring Himalayan peaks to its golden rice fields, from its serene cliff-side monasteries to its bustling, colorful cities, this Buddhist land of history and natural beauty has always blessed us. As our staff member Jane Agran, who visited the country this past November, puts it, “From the moment I arrived, it was just such a privilege to be there. The whole country—our guides, the views, the rural markets, the rare wildlife, the local villagers we met along the way—they all just opened their arms to us.”
We wanted to extend that gesture in return. To that end, are giving something back to the people of Bhutan. To honor you, our guests, valued friends, and worldwide network of colleagues, we have made a charitable donation to VAST Bhutan, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of Bhutanese farmers through art programs and community projects. Our contribution will fund the creation of a Rice Bank in Punakha, Bhutan.
In Punakha—a region that Jane visited on her recent trip—poor farmers must often borrow rice from wealthy ones during droughts or periods of food shortage. Due to high interest rates charged by lenders and poor crop yields, many of them are never able to pay back the debt. Through the Rice Bank project, farmers are loaned rice without interest, allowing them to pay back both their creditors and the Rice Bank itself, thus breaking cycles of debt and helping communities pull themselves out of poverty.
We at Country Walkers are very excited about this new initiative; the opportunity to support the people of Punakha is very special to us. Travelers to Bhutan will have the opportunity to visit this region and even see the Rice Bank in action in 2014. We will be sure to provide updates as significant news reaches us. Thanks to all of our past guests for supporting us, and making donations like this possible.