The Bhutan Foundation supports smaller initiatives through our local partners in Bhutan to make maximum impact within their communities. Through our Small Grants Program, we have provided various opportunities to our local partners for key projects to help advance their mission. For example, we supported the Disabled Personsâ€™ Association of Bhutan to begin a transition program for youth with visual impairment aimed at providing entrepreneurship skills and training, to help them acquire secure jobs. We will also be supporting an orientation and mobility program at the Muenselling Institute in the eastern region of Bhutan to support International White Cane Safety Day as an advocacy campaign and to sensitize relevant stakeholders.
In partnership with the Disabled Personsâ€™ Association of Bhutan (DPAB) and in collaboration with Amankora Bhutan, part of a luxury hotel group with presence in over 15 countries across the world, we have started a transition program to train visually impaired youth in spa therapy. With the hotel and spa industry growing in Bhutan, a career as a spa therapist could mean a more secure future for the trained youth. Four candidates, identified by DPAB, who have either dropped out of school or never been to school, have begun their six-month training in spa therapy at the Amankora in Thimphu, Bhutan. Depending on vacancies available and their performance, they will have the opportunity to be employed by Amankora or other hotel resorts in Bhutan. Contingent on the success of this program, Amankora has agreed to train more people with disabilities in their lodges around the country.
Orientation and mobility can be important challenges for students with visual impairment at their schools and with the people involved in their day-to-day lives. Having completed a Train-the-Trainer program in 2004, the senior staffs at Muenselling Institute are now trained to provide white cane sensitization to their new staff and the public. With support from the Bhutan Foundation, the Muenselling Institute will carry out a sensitization workshop for two days for all the new staff at three schools in the Eastern Region that serve students with visual impairment. In addition, an advocacy campaign on the importance of white cane safety will also be launched on International White Cane Safety Day on October 15, 2014, at Kanglung in Eastern Bhutan. Through the Bhutan Foundationâ€™s Small Grants Program, we hope to continue to support our local partners in implementing key projects that make maximum impact at all levels on the ground. The Bhutan Foundationâ€™s Thimphu office is responsible for these key initiatives.