Project #10991

Give Bhutanese Youth Voice through Digital Media

by The Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD)
Participants expressing their feelings through art
Participants expressing their feelings through art

Dear friends, donors and supporters,

We are glad to inform you all that our Media Lab has now become a functioning enterprise. With our dedicated team at BCMD and youth involved in the lab activities, the media lab is successfully running activities and continues to inspire people from all walks of life. This is a result of all the support we have received from you and we take this opportunity to thank each and everyone who have supported to our cause.

What have we been up to? Here is a glimpse of few activities we have led at the lab in this quarter:

Reading music through Media Lab: As Bhutan celebrates National Reading Year, we produced a music video that promotes reading habits among Bhutanese people. We have dedicated the video on the joyous occasion of the 60th birth anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

In the video, an Atsara goes around different places in Thimphu town carrying books and distributing to the public for free. The atsara represents a Buddhist master who has mastered Buddhism and therefore seeks to challenge the conventional wisdom of society. The word 'atsara' is derived from the Sanskrit word acharya which means 'the accomplished one'.

The music video is shared on our Facebook, YouTube and also screened at public events. It has been much appreciated and loved by both the elderly and the young.

Stories for Change: There are many individuals and civil society organisations that lead meaningful initiatives to bring positive change in our communities. However, most of us lack resources and the skills required to tell our stories using different media outlets. So, oftentimes these activities are not known to the people.

With our on-going project titled 'Stories for Change,' we hope to bring together a cohort of like-minded people and organisations and train them in multimedia skills to create short advocacy films on concerning social issues. We are also taking this opportunity to bring together all of our previous participants who have attended photography and multimedia training at our lab and get them to work on more videos themed stories for change.

One of the participants of the workshop, Phuntsho, said “the program was very informative and quite challenging but I learned a lot about video and photography which I could use in the future for more useful activities.”

Here are the videos- 

Stories for Change- Bhutan Kidney Foundation

Stories for Change- Bhutan Animal Rescue and Care

Open Mic Nights: Open mic nights at our media lab are in full swing. The space is always packed with young people, civil society organisations and social workers.

In October we led two open mic nights. The first one themed Oral history ‘Linking Generations’ was a follow up activity after a total of 14 out-of-school youth gathered life stories from different elderly people by interviewing them in their communities. During the event, participants discussed the importance of our age old customs and traditions.The participants shared their views on the different life styles that the youth live today and the ones that our parents lived, which gave them a contrast of different societal challenges and how best to overcome the challenges.

The second open mic night was themed ‘Art Therapy,’ which explores the idea of using art to express and understand our emotions and thoughts. We began with a mask painting activity, where participants created a mask to express their inner emotions, and then they were welcome to share their mask. The results were amazing. Each youth volunteered to share their mask and what it meant to them. This created discussion in the group where they talked about some of the issues the youth of Bhutan face today like depression, understanding your emotions, as well as the stigma against seeking help or discussing personal issues. This brought forth solutions to these issues, some mentioned tools such as journaling and art to reflect on your emotions, some talked about places to get help or emotional support when it's needed, like talking to close friends, seeking out therapy, or coming to express themselves in a welcoming environment such as the BCMD open mic.

Overall, our open mic nights are enabling our youth coordinators to practice their facilitation skills and giving a platform for other youth to practice public speaking.

Social Media Conversation at Samtse College of Education (SCE): We have around 12 media clubs that we support and fund across the country. These media clubs serve as a platform for young people in Bhutan to learn useful media skills like photography and multimedia storytelling. The media club members also learn useful knowledge such as media literacy. In addition, the media clubs also serve as centres that we can use to outsource and replicate our activities.

In September we visited our media club in the sourthern region of the country at Samtse College of Education. About 72 media club members of the college attended a day-long sensitisation workshop on media literacy and social media, which is an on-going activity at the lab.

The day’s programme included the concepts of media literacy, listening groups, the power of the Internet, the impacts of social media and different forms of media. One of the participants, Namgay, said “the programme infused me with more knowledge about democracy and people’s participation and their role to make it right.”

Punam Ghalley shared the sentiments of most participants when she said she would pass on the message on social media and create awareness of it among other people using different media. Group works were also done to help the participants understand the core concepts of media literacy and the impacts of social media.

Way forward

As we've successfully turned the Media Lab into a functioning enterprise, we are in the process of revamping our Global Giving donation strategy and plan to de-activate our current project and expand our fundraising goals to cover the entirety of our work. This new project would not only fund workshops at our Media Lab, but also help support our forums, publications, and youth engagement programs.

We are excited about this transition and hope you are too. Our new GlobalGiving project will be known as 'Empower Bhutan's Citizens to Engage in Democracy.' 

Creative art work!
Creative art work!
A participant shares his art with the rest
A participant shares his art with the rest
A participant at the animal centre during shooting
A participant at the animal centre during shooting
Shooting a kidney patient for Stories for Change
Shooting a kidney patient for Stories for Change
Social media conversation at Samtse College
Social media conversation at Samtse College
70 media club members and BCMD during conversation
70 media club members and BCMD during conversation

Comunication Through Visual Storytelling

With the increasing number of new technologies, a variety of tasks like filming and editing video and audio have been made easier. We can now learn and tell our own story without relying on the media. We can tell a compelling story ourselves through multimedia as long as we have basic storytelling skills. To give multimedia skills to the Bhutanese, the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy organised an eight-day multimedia workshop called “Communication through Visual Storytelling” from 22-29 July at the Media Lab.
Led by Mr Vairam Gopalakrishnan, Media Production Specialist, the workshop not only aimed to enhance the capacity of the participants to become effective storytellers through the use of simple multimedia tools, but also identified people with the potential to make short films on social change after the workshop. 
Five groups worked on with five different topics to produce short films. The topics are waste management, unemployment issues, animal cruelty, awareness on disability and promotion of indigenous arts and crafts.  The films were screened on 29 July at the Media Lab and followed by a short discussion on the films. The participants consisted of young graduates, CSO members, a teacher and students from school and colleges.

Music Video to Encourage READING

This is a short music video dedicated to the 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuk. The video celebrates the national reading year 2015 in Bhutan. 

The aims and objective of this video is to promote a reading habit among Bhutanese people (Both old and young). 


Creating a small cohort of community at the media lab is the ultimate goal of the open mic nights. Apart from music, literature and art, the open mic night also provides a space for fruitful discussion on the current pressing issuce. 
Another open mic night was held few days after the mothers day. Participants shared their love for their mother and how she became an inspiration in their lives. Poems were recited, songs were sung and stories told to remember the most important person in our lives.  
Focussed: participants editing their videos
Focussed: participants editing their videos
Getting the interview techniques right
Getting the interview techniques right
A screenshot from the READING video
A screenshot from the READING video
Young and talented singer during Open Mic Night
Young and talented singer during Open Mic Night

Dear friends, donors and supporters,

We are glad to inform you all that our Media Lab is becoming livelier with each passing moment and more people are becoming a part of our small community. We are moving forward and we thank you for your support!

What have we been up to?

As our space matures, we are building on some of the programmes at the Media Lab that we feel are essential to enable young people in Bhutan to share their concerns and creative solutions to some of our current challenges. To do this, we have been leading monthly ‘Open Mic Nights’ and ‘Social Media Conversations’ at our lab. We continue to host photography and multimedia storytelling workshops with youths and members of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Bhutan, and that worked out great! Check out one of the multimedia storiesHERE. Our programmes are evolving at the lab and with your support we will continue to build on our existing programmes and experiment with new programmes.

Activities at the lab in this quarter:


Please excuse the capitalized letters indicating we are screaming (obviously), but we tend to get seriously excited with our monthly open mic nights. We have been leading these open mic events for several months and its been a great experience. About 35-40 people, mostly school, college, employed and out-of-school youth, attend the event regularly. A few members of parliament also come in on occasions to understand the pulse and the views of the youth.

Most of the participants are shy to share their voice in the beginning but the casual setting during the event gets them relaxed and eventually they start opening up. (Remember we're a country where classrooms are large and inadequate when it comes to providing space for children to share their ideas. Hence, some of us are unused to speaking up in public. ) Some of the youth are really taking advantage of this platform to practice their public speaking. Our open mic nights are equally balanced in terms of fun activities and discussion on issues. The open mic nights bring in a diverse set of views from people from all walks of life on different issues. Past topics discussed include creative engagement, alcoholism and youth, and employment opportunities. It helps us in building a strong community of concerned citizens.

Social Media Conversations!

What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Social Media’? About 60 percent of the participants, who are usually outspoken, shout ‘FACEBOOK,’ 30 percent whisper ‘Facebook’ in their minds and 10 percent of them are wondering what's really happening. Facebook, among all social networking sites, is the most used social media for all sorts of communication by a majority of the Bhutanese population. And, no matter how easy it is to stay connected and communicate instantly, it does come with a price. Defamation, anonymity, privacy concerns to name a few.

In the past months, we have led several of these conversation at the lab and as much as we feel that we have created awareness on the ‘responsible engagement on social media,’ we have also learned a great deal from our participants sharing their ‘social media experience.’ Middle and higher school youths come in to our lab and talk about issues regarding social media. The school visits to our lab really enables the youth to become responsible users of social media, especially Facebook. We have had youth sharing how they believed everything they read on Facebook, spend most times chatting on Facebook and adding all sorts of people on their friend list. Through the conversation they learn to weigh the good and the risks of using social media, and become more aware of what they post.

Training youth

Realising the importance of young people at the present and in the future, we decided to support youth skills in engagement.  More youth groups are emerging in Bhutan,, both informal youth groups and registered youth groups. An informal youth group is subjected to many challenges like group management, communication, facilitation and more.

BCMD led a 2-day facilitation training for 3 informal youth groups to begin with. These youth groups are the ones that we work closely with and we plan to cover more youth groups in the future. The lab provided an excellent space, tangible and intangible, for members of the youth groups to come and work together even if they belong to different youth groups. The facilitation training allowed the selected members of the youth groups to learn organisational skills, facilitation skills and also allowed them to strengthen their network with other youth groups.

Last weekend, we piloted a community mapping project in a village nearby and the youth were at the lab to prepare their charts, pictures, posters and presentations for the village elders. They not only had a great walk through a Bhutanese village but they met with 2 village guides who showed them village life, local plants and food, and shared local concerns. The lab hosted a community mapping project last summer that resulted in an exhibition ion the lab and the youth centre.

Future plans

We have great plans for the media lab in the coming months. Apart from hosting regular open mic nights and social media conversations, our programme schedule will offer photography trainings, multimedia storytelling workshops, creative writing workshops and leadership workshops. All of these activities will benefit many youth who are in school, college, employed and out-of-school.

The lab also serves has a home for our youth groups to lead their meetings and discussions. We intend to keep our lab open for youths to drop in and learn how to use digital media equipments and software during the weekends when we do not have any activities going on. In a country where 6 out of 10 people are youth, and many are grappling with issues like employment, how can we create a more sustainable society in a small country of less than a million people, and what roles may we play as citizens in a new democracy? All these are being discussed at the media lab. Help us keep the thinking and the action going. We look forward to your continued support to make these activities happen!

If you would like to know more about our programmes, get in touch with us at or check out our organisations You can also find us on Facebook and YouTube by just typing ‘Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy.’ Tell us what you think of our current programmes and we are happy to get more ideas from you to engage young people in our new and flourishing democracy.

Football star sharing his passion for football
Football star sharing his passion for football
Youngh Active Citizens (YAC) works on a group work
Youngh Active Citizens (YAC) works on a group work
Youth Initiative (YI) discussing their group issue
Youth Initiative (YI) discussing their group issue
Y Co-OP members in discuss cooperatives in Bhutan
Y Co-OP members in discuss cooperatives in Bhutan
Member of Parliament, Sangay Khandu, at Open Mic N
Member of Parliament, Sangay Khandu, at Open Mic N
Open Mic Night themed
Open Mic Night themed 'Creative Engagement'
Young mapper shows community strength to its membe
Young mapper shows community strength to its membe
Kabesa villagers listen to youth on their village
Kabesa villagers listen to youth on their village
Prof Takasan with youth and kabesa villagers
Prof Takasan with youth and kabesa villagers
One of the findings from the mapping excercise
One of the findings from the mapping excercise

Thirty-five Bhutanese youth across the country came together in Thimphu on 23 and 24 December 2014to discuss issues that they considered the most important to them.

The two-day forum called Youth Symposium organised by the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy provided an opportunity for youth to openly discuss the challenges facing their generation and envision possible solutions to them. 

The youth discussed how to conduct a dialogue more generally and specific issues of education, employment, and mental health.

Experts on education, employment, and mental health made short presentations to the youth followed by question and answer sessions.

The solutions session of the symposium offered a platform for inclusive participation, enabling the participants to review and explore the issues confronting them and to offer ideas on how to address them.

Twenty-one gewog administrative officers (GAOs) attended a three-day media sensitisation workshop in Thimphu from 19 to 21 November 2014.
Aimed at making the GAOs effective in sharing public information, the workshop was part of the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy’s (BCMD) continuing series of media sensitisation workshops forGAOs.
For the past three years, BCMD has been organising various activities to create an informed and participatory society. Educating GAOs on the media has been one of them.   
Besides learning about media ethics, the GAOs learnt the basics of writing news stories and press releases. Led by professional editors, the participants also learned self-editing and wrote a story each of their gewogs.
As in every media workshop for GAOs, the participants took part in a lively question and answer session with the members of the press.
The stories the GAOs wrote as part of a writing exercise were edited and posted on their blog 

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Organization Information

The Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD)

Location: Thimphu, N/A - Bhutan
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Siok Sian Pek-Dorji
Executive Professional Director
Thimphu, N/A Bhutan

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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