Lhak-Sam (BNP+) is the first network of HIV positive people in Bhutan which was formed in September 2009 by a group of positive people in Thimphu. Lhaksam was registered as a civil society organization (CSO) on 26th November 2010 with the main aim to provide and promote leadership, education and capacity building to people living with HIV (PLHIV) and their families, establish linkages with regional and international networks of PLHIV. Encouraged by the Ministry of Health, the group expanded to other districts and set its mission to create and promote a strong support system based on solidarity, social networking and people’s participation for addressing and taking collective action towards effective responses to HIV/AIDS and its impact. It currently has 107 members (51 females and 45 males) across the country and an executive committee (comprising of 8 members) has been formed that makes all major decisions for the group. The executive director (male) and the General Secretary (female) have been elected from among the member.
Lhak-Sam has been formed in response to the needs of its members and also of the concern by members of the rapid spread of the disease in the country. With only three registered civil society (NGO) in the country in the past, positive people were completely isolated and dependent entirely on the few health workers to discuss their problems. Stigma and discrimination is high and being a small country and population, nearly everybody knows each other, which makes knowing your HIV status a fearful thing. In addition Lhak-Sam as an organization faces other daunting challenges and constraints reflecting the way the epidemic is spreading in Bhutan.
Lhak-Sam aims to be a premier organization in Bhutan committed to providing and promoting leadership, education and capacity building to all PLHIV and their families, empowering them to improve their quality of life, by reducing stigma and discrimination and through access to appropriate prevention, care and support services.
Eight PLHIV (4 male, 4 female) in Thimphu came together on October 08, 2009 and had a first meeting among the peers. The name Lhak-Sam (altruism) for the group was concrecreated on 14th of December 2009 by His Reverence Chazam Telku Rinpoche the 14th reincarnation of “Drupthop Thongthong Gyelpo”. The process for the registration as an public benefit, non-governmental organization began in May 2010 and officially got registered on November 26, 2010 with its registration No. CSOA/PBO-10.
“A society where all people living with HIV (PLHIV) and affected family members have opportunities for a meaningful livelihood”
To create and promote a strong support system based on solidarity, social networking and people’s participation for addressing and taking collective action towards effective response to HIV/AIDS and its impact.
- Network and provide support to all PLHIV in Bhutan and the region;
- Empower and build the capacity of all members to participate fully in their own treatment, care and prevention;
- Reduce stigma and discrimination;
- Enhance greater participation of members and other stakeholders in the AIDS response;
- Establish linkages with regional and international networks of PLHIV and Increase access to resources by members through resource mobilization, grant making and management.