The Lunaps (locals of Lunana) mentioned that May of 2021 is colder than the previous years. The heavy annual snow fall skipped the villages of Lunana in the winter of 2020 yet the mountains were covered in snow. Loden Foundation made its first visit to Lunana in April 2021. The villages of Lunana are lit by Solar Power, 1 Public Health Centre manned by 3 Health Workers making monthly outreach clinic visits to all villages, 1 Primary school with 34 students and 4 teachers and 2 Extended Classrooms with 4 additional teachers to give easy access to education. Public servants extending livestock, agriculture, engineering, essential food supplies and early flood warning services were well adopted and appreciated by the Lunaps. With green houses in the backyard of numerous houses, a continuous supply of vegetables added to the menu and with the introduction of the helicopter and telecommunication services (4G internet connectivity), the lives of the far-flung community have become convenient. Cordycep collection season is about to start and with the start of the season, the schools close for a month or so. Families organize themselves to collect and harvest the precious fungus which seems to be a major source of income for the families. There is only 1 (yet to be completed) commercial accommodation in the whole of Lunana at Tshojong run by Ap (Mr.) Nyuenday, a 58-year-old man.
Not many choose to think and do things differently as they are a 7-day walk away from the nearest road point (40- 60 minutes by Helicopter) and thus contained in isolation to an extent.
Meet Ap Nyuenday (an entrepreneur) from Lunana
Meet Ap Nyuenday from Lunana. He has been catering for years to the travelers along the Snow Man Trek. He is the only guest house service provider at Lunana and his guest house is at Tshojong. I spent 3 good nights at his place which is nearing completion. He sure has an entrepreneurial drive, he wants to operate his guest house, run a restaurant and motivate the locals to start ventures. Sitting by his Bukhari with a brightly lit LED bulb powered by solar energy, i shared him about the LEP business proposal calls which Loden makes. Few other individuals I met along my journey while at Lunana are aware about the LEP business financing opportunity.
This not only confirms the impact of Loden Entrepreneurship Programme but also beacons us to work harder to live up to the name and continue to inspire more entrepreneurs.
Schools at Lunana
A primary school at Lhedi with boarding facilities for 34 students and 2 Extended Class Rooms (ECRs) at Tshojong and Thanza caters to the educational needs of the little ones of Lunana Gewog. Once they graduate from 6th grade at Lunana, they are sent off to Damji School at Khamoed, Gasa. The children greet us with the biggest of smiles and a mix of traditional joenzhu (bow) and an english greeting of good morning. Sitting and watching the little children doing their routine visit to the Public Health Centre, the health staff highlighted the importance of personal hygiene. On the weekend, the girls carry firewood to heat water to take a warm bath and the mischievous boys decide to take a cold bath, some of them are as old as 5. The whole of Lunana is currently powered by solar lights. Maybe we could assist a solar powered water heating system and complement the advice of the Health Workers directive and the efforts of our teachers in giving them a nice warm bath.
An annual Tshechu (Festival) for Lunana
Lunaps who can afford to charter helicopters make sure they attend the Punakha Tshechu and Domchen. Not many families make it for any celebration of sorts. The locals shared that they enjoy the plantation season with songs and it’s called Na Ja. As they talk about the event, smiles and giggles follow. Lunana has 4 lhakhangs and 1 Lam (monk). The locals have strong beliefs in mountain deities and appeasing them. An annual festive event for the Lunaps to gather, celebrate and share would be an event which all locals would mark on their calendars. An event of 2 to 3 days to showcase talents, tell stories, spiritual and religious congregation would give the portion of the Lunaps who can hardly step out of Lunana to celebrate Lunana.