Tour guide to venture on a five - month nation wide cleaning campaign

Says nothing can deter him, if he gets a decent financial and logistical support
Every Saturday, people in Thimphu may come across a person with a gunny back, picking trash along the way. If he is not in Thimphu on a particular Saturday, he will be doing the same, wherever he is. People may think that he is an employee of Thimphu Thromde or a civil society organization (CSO) mandated to keep the capital clean. He has no connections with any of the organizations. He is Gembo, a 45-year-old freelance guide, from Nabji village in Trongsa’s Korphu district, who has committed to do whatever he can to keep the capital and any area he visits clean. Additionally, he has now set a target – he is aspiring to go on a five month nation wide cleaning campaign, walking along the highways, speaking to everyone he meets, on the need to keep Bhutan clean. He would be cleaning all 20 Dzongs, crematoriums, sacred sites and others.  

Gembo can hardly remember his mother, as she passed away when he was a child. However, he remembers something that his mother used to always emphasize; the need to stay clean, physically and mentally. This was infused in the mind of a young child, which gradually became a passion. When he became a guide in 1998, he transformed his passion into a regular activity. “As a guide, my guests used to tell me that our country is very beautiful and strong. Thus, whenever there was trash somewhere, I used to be embarrassed and I then started picking trash here and there whenever  I could,” Gembo recalls. 
However, Gembo admits that he used to feel discomfited doing the job. “So, I never told anyone that I am involved in such an activity. I used to wear a cap, cover my face almost completely and then collect trash.” But June 27, 2019, changed everything. 
“On June 27, 2019 I was on a tour and went to a restaurant in Paro. I saw Her Majesty Our Queen, Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema, the Dorji Lopen of Paro district and other high ranking officials cleaning Paro town,” Gembo recollects. It was a moment of reckoning for Gembo, which changed his outlook of life and his life itself. 
“I am sincerely short of words to express how inspired I was by Her Majesty and from then, I began to openly pick up trash and garbage every Saturday. I started my first Saturday cleaning program from Paro Taktshang and some of my friends used to call me Taktshang’s contractor,” Gembo says. 
When asked about his current plan for a nation wide cleaning campaign, Gembo says that he wants to interact with the public, students, monk body, drivers and others and convey Her Majesty’s messages, especially the importance of waste management and the duty each citizen has to keep Bhutan beautiful and clean.   
“I am planning to begin this from June 4, 2022, which would be Her Majesty’s 32nd birth anniversary, a very auspicious day for all Bhutanese. Additionally, I have planned to start from Dungkar in Lhuntse, home of our beloved Kings,” he says, adding that his purpose is to unwaveringly commit to the task of cleaning and disseminating the role every individual can play. “I have cleaned streams and rivers; parks and streets; secular and religious institutions and I want to go around the country doing the same,” he says. 
According to his plan, it would take him about five months for the entire campaign. He will be cleaning all the twenty Dzongs, all crematoriums, sacred sites and also areas below and above the highways, apart from schools and hospitals. When asked why he felt the need to do this, Gembo says that through experience he has learned that Bhutanese need to be shown the way and disseminate messages correctly. “People throw garbage into streams because most have not been told not to do so. They have not seen people cleaning those streams. When they see such things, it strikes them and I want to do the same,” he says. 
Moreover, Gembo has other plans, too. During the campaign he wants to encourage people to form their own groups and conduct cleaning campaigns regularly. “I am confident that people will agree,” he says. 
Nonetheless, he is not without challenges. The monsoons would hit him along the way. But Gembo is undeterred. “The weather and other factors are not an issue at all. But I humbly and sincerely want to put on record and say that I will be requiring some support, especially financial and logistical ones,” he says. When asked if he has approached any agency as of now, Gembo replied that he would be doing it this week. “I know I don’t have much time. But I am hopeful that agencies and even individuals will support this cause. I believe in the generosity of Bhutanese when it comes to activities that are nationally important,” he said.  
This will not be the first time Gembo would be going to other districts. Except for Chukha, Samtse, Pemagatshel and Samdrup Jongkhar, he has conducted cleaning campaigns in all other districts.  He measures the wastes collected, which he learned from the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN). He is a volunteer of RSPN, too. 
When asked if he has any message for the people of Bhutan, he says: “Let us help our selves to keep our country clean and hand over our clean environment to our young generation and future. Let us make our King and Queen happy by keeping our country clean. This is also one of the ways of giving back to Their Majesties something for all the benefits that we graciously receive from our King and Queen.”
Meanwhile, whether Gembo’s mission to go on a five month nation wide cleaning campaign is realized or not will depend on the coming week. Will there be supporters who would help him?