Abandoned by parents, this artist with cerebral palsy is among Bhutan's most celebrated painters
Pema Tshering is one of Bhutan's most celebrated painters and wood-carvers. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child, but the disability did not come in the way of pursuing an illustrious career in art.
Pema's story is truly amazing. He was abandoned by his parents when he was just six years old because he had cerebral palsy. Pema also had congenital deformities in his spinal column, which led to limited use of his legs.
He lived with his grandparents until the age of 18 when the Queen Mother of Bhutan happened to visit his village and meet him. She saw his artistic skills and sponsored his education in an art school in Bhutan. He went on to become an accomplished artist.
The 31-year-old is paralysed from the hip up and has spent almost his entire life using his feet as his hands. He uses his feet to hold a chisel and hammer to carve through wood. He makes a living selling his creations from a small store inside the Simply Bhutan museum in Thimphu.
Pema has created beautiful artwork over the years and even represented Bhutan in the 2005 Paralympics as a national archer.
Pema's works are detailed and challenging. He has even exhibited his works in New Delhi. Today, he supports his parents financially, even though they abandoned him when he was a child.