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Paying back Paper in Paper: Barely a soul in Small scale Traditional Paper-Making Enterprise


Tenzin Yeshey facing uncertain future 

Tenzin Yeshey nom de plume Karma Tenzin from Trashi Yangtse married a native girl and settled in Minjay only. He left his kin and kith back in his village and ventured into the destiny known but to nurture his own set of family. Did he realize raising a family is no man’s piece of pie? That is only when he realized that first to start with, he need a decent roof over his head. With no investment money, he borrowed a tender notes of Nu.35,000/- from one grocery-man Ngawangla in Trashi Yangtse and he is now paying it back in Desho paper. 

Here, the skill he possessed proved very valuable. He is now the proud father of 3 children (2 sons and 1 girl child). He never went to formal school himself. So, he enrolled his kids to the school the first day they each reached the school-going age. He rather chose to be the sacrificial lambs of his children’s education. He is not bothered about his own square meals or working with his stomach half-filled but for the education of his kids.
The money he borrowed is used very judiciously, but unfortunately exhausted when only the half of his double-storey house was completed construction. But that atleast provided his family the four cornered walls to protect from chilling winter breeze and an opaque roof to shield them from sweltering summer sun and incessant rain. Before, he can include up the story to the house, he needed to clear the debt he owe to the grocery man. But how? With his meager farm income, it would take ages to repay back. 
His one-storey house
In a desperate exploration of way and means to settle up the loan, he incepted small enterprise of his own dedicating in making Bhutanese hand-made paper. The enterprise shares his small dry land holding with his one storey house. He collects the raw materials (Edgeworthia) from the locality and processes it to make a paper of size 1mx1/2m. The papers are sent to his debtor in lieu of the money he borrowed to construct his house. A piece of paper deducts Nu.5/- from his total borrowing. Many years down the lane, he has not even reached the break-even of his business. 
He works alone with all those traditional tools and equipments transforming that raw edgeworthia barks into fine pieces of hand-made papers. The processes such as soaking of barks in zinc container, cutting, splitting or shredding it into pieces with bare hands, grinding with either stones or stick, churning in home-made churner and finally spreading on dyer (Parshing) is all done by himself and all in the tradional and ineffective home-made equipments. But worst of all, drying of the papers are in mercy of sunshine. 
Whatsoever, the business is his sole source of income. He proudly mentions that only few thousand is left of his debt. Not everything is sold to the debtor. He retains few thousand of his annual paper productions to be sold to the local Gomchens who buy it for writing religious scripts. Now with such off-farm income, he supports his family and education of his children. 
He has plan galore with his enterprise. He wants to expand the enterprise and engage in mass production which will in no doubt help keep the tradition of our Country alive. He intends to procure advanced equipments such as electric dyer and fitting machine. These machines are operated by electricity without having to depend on the mercy of the weather phenomenon. But with no access to supports, it remains barely as his day dream.
Until such time that a fairy fulfills his dream, he still wants to maintain the soul in his enterprise. 

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