Bhutan King titled him Toilet teacher (Chablop). Passang Tshering is the founder of the Bhutan Toilet Organization. Passu is a writer and a blogger, too; his blog, PaSsu Diary, is published into a book. He contributes to several newspapers. He co-founded the Community of Bhutanese Bloggers & Writers Association of Bhutan.
With high readership, he managed to use his expertise on blogging as the platform to educate and advocate the Bhutanese masses on the proper use of toilets.
Please watch a short video on his life journey and don't miss to read his full interview with Inspirational Beings team to know.
1) Tell us about your background & education?
My Name is Passang Tshering (A.k.a PaSsu). My parents were farmers. My father passed away when I was a toddler & we had a very impoverished childhood. I was born and educated in Bhutan. I have a bachelor's degree in education and worked as a high school teacher for ten years before resigning to start and run Bhutan Toilet Org (www.bhutantoilet.org).
2) Why you thought of founding toilet culture in Bhutan
Traditionally, Bhutanese families built toilets on the first floor of their dwellings, with a pig sty underneath so that the human waste could serve as fodder. People also prefer open defecation. It was becoming a prominent reason for health problems like diarrhoeal disease, skin infections, conjunctivitis, dengue, and malaria.
Having grown up using dirty toilets, people tend to think that all bathrooms are unclean. I decided to work towards it after spotting a huge gap in sanitation provision in our beautiful Himalayan country. I was a social blogger (www.passudiary.com ), and there were hundreds of social issues I raised, but when it came to toilet issues, I felt so strongly that I resigned from my job to bridge this gap.
We launched the Bhutan Toilet Organization in 2015.
3)Tell us about this mission and how it has helped society?
Bhutan Toilet org was founded to make Bhutan’s public toilet as beautiful as the country.
Since founding the organization in 2015, we have managed to make all the public toilets across the country clean and usable.
These toilets were otherwise blocked or closed due to damages. We have ensured that there are toilets during all public events. We have assured that even the bedridden people have a bathroom next to their bed. School toilets across the country are getting upgraded. We have introduced toilet clubs in all the colleges under RUB in Bhutan. The best thing is that we have thousands of volunteers who are engaged in helping us clean toilets. We are the first non-profit organization committed to building a toilet culture in the country. We provide toilets free of cost to all those who cannot afford to buy one.
4)Tell us about the challenges you faced in this journey and how you overcame them?
Bhutan didn't have a water-based toilet until recently. Because of the cultural ignorance on this matter, our infrastructures were not well planned, located, and managed. To make it worse, people came with strange traditional toilet habits like using twigs and stone instead of tissue paper or water, and they won't flush after using the toilet. People generally didn't mind toilets being dirty. They were reluctant to change initially, and they thought it was our duty to clean after them.
We faced the challenge of transforming a whole culture and had to do a national potty-training all over again.
With our efforts and perseverance gradually, people began to understand what we were doing was for their health and for developing our country’s image. Many people joined our mission as volunteers. We have 1200 active volunteers & more than 4500 citizens have contributed their services with us.
Today many people express their gratitude and join us as volunteers and donors.
5) How do you motivate yourself in low times?
One year into the business of cleaning shit, His Majesty the King of Bhutan recognized me and gave a title he coined specially for me: CHABLOP (Chab=Toilet, Lop=Teacher) and I became Chablop PaSsu
The biggest day of my life came when during the national day of Bhutan 2016, I received the National Order of Merit Gold Medal from The King of Bhutan.
When I left my stable job and started this social mission, my mother was not convinced and disheartened. However, when she saw my picture with His majesty, it worked magic with her, she became delighted and started appreciating my work.
These moments not only keep me going but also helped in paving the path of goodwill across all sections of the people in Bhutan. Therefore, there is no such thing as low times for me.
6)Your message to society?
A clean toilet is not just about combating diseases. It is about bringing good energy, happiness, and luck in one's life. It’s a lifestyle.
7)Your plans ahead?
We are not going to leave any stone unturned in the field of a toilet, and make toilets in Bhutan as beautiful as Bhutan is, and let the world fall in love with Bhutan.
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