Pema Cheki

“My family was not the poorest and I had a normal childhood. Of the 6 children, only my younger sister and I were sent to school. After 10th when I couldn’t qualify, I decided to find a job and become independent. I came to Thimphu to live with my sister. However, I always remembered what friends and relatives had warned me about the struggle of living in Thimphu; They said that jobless youths become a burden to their hosts. Wary of that, just a month after reaching Thimphu, I signed up for the security guard training.

At first, the prospect of getting a job and becoming independent was so romantic. But there were hardly any girls in the training, and we would shy away from even learning the march pass. On this, our instructor would encourage us to join in and train as hard as the boys. My first job posting was in Paro AmanKora. I started experiencing discrimination based on my job and uniform from mostly the visitors. They couldn’t deal with the fact a person like us had any power. They’d challenge our authority, mock and insult us with names such as ‘Chowkidar’. Some even abbreviated our organization’s name JSS as ‘Just six thousand salary’. Even the cabbies would ask, ‘How are you even surviving with your tiny pay?’. I remember getting handed money in the most uncomfortable and condescending way.

Citing us as ‘too egoistic’ for the job we did, there were instances when rich folks in their cars would vent out their anger at us and their kind-hearted friends apologize on their behalf. As professional security personnel, we’d always be polite and if people still didn’t cooperate then we would inform the supervisor. I started working in UNDP and in the years that followed, I was promoted as a head guard and even got paid well. I’ve never been late to my shifts. Though everyone misunderstands and looks down on it, overall it’s a good job. We don’t have to stand in the sun and rain, and in the end, the pay lets us be independent. I’m a mother of two now and a proud security guard.

In this current employment crisis, I’d encourage young people to consider such jobs and take charge of their lives.”

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