On Monday, in New York City, Bhutan’s Queen Mother, Her Majesty, Gyalyum Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck received an international award. She was honoured by Caritas in Veritate International, an “Alliance of organizations dedicated to equipping and mobilizing youth in bringing Charity and Truth to the poorest of the poor.”
Her Majesty was honoured with the Pope Francis Charity and Leadership Award at a ceremony. Her Majesty wasn’t in attendance at the ceremony. Bhutan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations received it in her stead. The award was in recognition of the work done by Her Majesty’s Tarayana Foundation under her leadership.
The Tarayana Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for those living in the most remote and rural areas of Bhutan who are suffering with financial difficulties. It assists members in these communities through ‘housing schemes, scholarships, training, production and marketing of rural products and financial support.’ It currently works with 40 of the poorest communities in Bhutan. One project that is currently utilised, in consultation with communities and their members is the cultivation of medicinal, aromatic and dye plants to increase the communities overall income.
Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck is the first wife of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who was the Fourth King of Bhutan. She was born on 29, Deecember, 1955. She was educated at St. Joseph’s Convent, Kalimpong, and St. Helen’s School, Kurseong, in India.
Her Majesty is the mother of Princess Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuck and Prince Dasho Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck. Her Majesty is an accomplished author and major supporter of literary works, particularly those by young people. She has sponsored and/or edited poetry and essays relevant to the Bhutanese culture and people.
Her Majesty serves as Honorary President of Sherubtse College. This is Bhutan’s oldest institution of higher education. The Queen Mother can perhaps be considered a modern thinker because she also takes a keen interest in youth and gender issues.
She is the Founder and Patron of the Folk Heritage Museum located in Thimphu. This museum exhibits ‘traditional folk knowledge crafts and way of life’. It has become a popular destination for both tourists and Bhutanese citizens alike.
She is also the Chief Patron of “Mountain Echoes: a Literary Festival”. This festival is organised by the Indo-Bhutan Friendship Association which brings together both national and international authors and poets to celebrate the literary relationship between Bhutan and India.
Since 1999, Her Majesty has served as the Chief Patron of Bhutan’s Ministry of Agriculture. She has traveled and seen firsthand, the plight of the country’s people, the majority of whom are farmers. Many live in harsh geographic and climatic conditions. Her Majesty travels to these villages by foot, meeting these farmers and seeing the work done by the Tarayana Foundation. She also seeks to work out new ways to improve the conditions of those farmers through other intervention methods.
The Tarayana Foundation has granted assistance to many of the men, women and children Her Majesty has met in-person. Her Majesty, through the Tarayana Foundation strives to incorporate environmental preservation in all of its projects. Her Majesty is a keen supporter for preservering ‘National Parks, Biological Corridors and programmes to protect the environment.’ She has given several keynote speeches, both at home and abroad on reducing poverty, social transformation of women and enviromnental preservation.