Pema Tshering: The Power of Determination

The Situation
Pema Tshering, a talented 29-year-old craftsman, was born with cerebral palsy and congenital deformities in his spinal column. With limited mobility, Pema is only able to use his feet to carry out his daily routines.

The Insight
Pema was discovered by her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Pem Wangchuck, Co-Chair of the Bhutan Foundation and President of the Bhutan Youth Development Fund, during one of her visits to Mongar in Eastern Bhutan. Her Majesty was amazed with Pema’s self-determination and motivation to learn the skills of wood carving and was even more overwhelmed by his ability to work wonders with his left toe, from his daily chores to playing archery.

The Solution
After receiving an audience with Her Majesty, Pema Tshering was enrolled in the Institute of the Zorig Chosum (traditional arts) in Thimphu, Bhutan. In 2005, Pema began his first training in the traditional art of wood carving—using his feet. After four years, Pema graduated from the Institute.

The Results
Today, Pema’s woodcarvings have received much commendation both nationally and internationally. He has actively participated in exhibitions within and outside the country. With support from the Bhutan Foundation and the Bhutan Youth Development Fund, Pema has set up a small work station at Simply Bhutan, the first-ever living museum in the country. He is now able to support himself through the sales of his woodwork at the museum gift shop.
Pema’s unwavering belief in himself and his sheer optimism continues to inspire many people living with disabilities. His story tells us that with self-determination, anything is possible.