Lhak-Sam, which literally means altruism, embodies the principle of selflessly thinking of others before oneself. Established in 2010, Lhak-Sam is the only Bhutan Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (BNP+) registered under the Civil Society Organization Authority (CSOA) of Bhutan.
On the 8th of October 2009 in Thimphu, eight PLHIV (four male, four female) residing in the city came together for the first-ever coordination meeting. During these meetings, one of the rules was to keep the meeting room door tightly shut, communicate in hushed tones, and remain vigilant for any potential eavesdroppers. We were driven by our own fears and preconceptions.
In 2011, coinciding with World AIDS Day on December 1st, five PLHIV (four male, one female) made a collective decision to sacrifice their private, social, and family lives by publicly disclosing their HIV status. This courageous act humanized HIV/AIDS in Bhutan. Despite our apprehensions about public opinion and acceptance, we were astonished by the inspiring and appreciative response from people, who regarded our actions as bold and compassionate. Since then, Lhak-Sam has been dedicated to preventing new HIV infections, reducing social fear, stigma and discrimination, promoting human values, and eliminating AIDS-related deaths through various programs.
In 2016, in recognition of our commitment and efforts toward the national cause, His Majesty the King of Bhutan awarded Lhak-Sam with the National Order of Merit in Gold on National Day. We were honored for volunteering our time and efforts to promote humanitarian values, our culture and traditions, and our national objectives. Our unwavering dedication to supporting and assisting where the government falls short, and our commitment to upholding the sacred values of compassion and empathy, were acknowledged.
Throughout our journey of growth and development, we have been profoundly assisted and supported by various generous organizations, stakeholders, and donors. Their unreserved contributions have been significantly instrumental in enhancing our capacity, expanding our exposure, and raising our standards for meaningful engagement. We are deeply touched and grateful for their invaluable investment in vigilantly strengthening the community-system and our dedication to the cause remains unwavering. For the last twelve years we have been successfully leading the HIV response, building valuable experience, knowledge and wisdom along the way.
Today, our voices resonate powerfully, even among the policymakers, and the public appreciate our sincere contributions to the cause of the society. Furthermore, we take great pride in being regarded as equal partners in the nation’s response to the epidemic, advocating for greater involvement of people living with HIV (PLHIV), and Key Affected Populations (KAPs) in the fight against AIDS.
Guided by the edict released by His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan in 2004, our united response to HIV/AIDS is built on His Majesty’s visionary principles of “SHARED CONCERN, JOINT RESPONSIBILITY, AND COMPASSION”.
In our demonstration of resilient to the epidemic, we are actively contributing to the achievement of several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which includes No Poverty (1), Zero Hunger (2), Quality Education (4), Gender Equality (5), Decent Work and Economic Growth (8), Reduced Inequalities (10), Peace and Justice (16), and Partnership for the Goals (17).
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 and AIDS and its negative 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
To create a society that’s unconditionally free from myths fear, prejudice, discrimination and criminalization, where all the people shall have opportunities for a meaningful LIVELIHOOD.
In partnership with relevant supporters and donors, Lhak-Sam aims to become premier organization in Bhutan committed to providing and promoting leadership, education and competency to all the PLHIV, KAPs, their families, and the people of Bhutan through reducing fear, isolation, prejudice, discrimination, and improving people’s positive thinking and living productively through people’s access to a range of quality prevention, treatment, care, and support services.
The first coordination meeting of PLHIV was called by Mr. Wangda at the Thimphu HISC.
CSO registration documents for Lhak-Sam submitted
His Majesty the King grants audience to PLHIV. First Five HIV/AIDs individuals comes out in BBS
Lhak-Sam enhances its reach with members in other dzongkhags
Lhaksam’s first strategic plan (2014-2018) drafted and launched by Her Majesty Queen Mother Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck.
Three HIV positive people comes out publicly
Lhak-Sam signs a nine months grant agreement with the UNODC Drug Abuse Prevention Center (DAPC) based in New Delhi, for the prevention of drugs and alcohol use among school dropout youths in Thimphu
Coinciding with the 109th National Day of Bhutan 2016, Lhak-Sam received the National Order of Merit (GOLD) from His Majesty the King
Lhak-Sam consecrates a small community based care center home on at Genekha on the user right certified land on lease from the government.
With support from MSA Grant, Lhak-Sam developed an instructor’s manual for comprehensive HIV and AIDS Treatment Literacy Module in 2018
Two more reveal their HIV/AIDs status in public at Samtse