Posts Tagged ‘Nagaland’
Now in my eleventh day here in Mokokchung, Nagaland I have switched “hats” to fulfill my assignments for Hope For Change International.
I will be evaluating the progress and needs of Nagaland Children’s Residential School (NCRS) located here in Mokokchung. The school, which was begun in 1996, launched a new program for young children when the school year began in February, 2012. Because of their desire to provide education and English literacy to the children of the town they have inaugurated a “Nursery Class” for two and three-year old children. Seven chosen ones make up the first class. These are privileged children because they are learning English at such a young age which will be their gateway to a vast array of educational/career opportunities as they mature.
My next blog will focus on some of the older children’s stories telling us just how important attending and “English School” is here in the Northeast of India.
Hope for Change International supporters make these dreams come true for the young people enrolled at NCRS. Thank you!
- “Kohima is Yours ~ Keep it Clean”
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- of our travel exploits
- by the dedication of our remarkable H4C partners around the globe. On November 17, 2010, I returned safely home in the USA from a five week journey to Northeast India, specifically to the Indian state of Nagaland which sits below Tibet in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains. Since most of the world is unfamiliar with this remote region of the world I have taken it upon myself to educate our MBELE! readers as best as I can regarding this unique locale and population. One of my young hosts, Neingulie, stated Nagaland’s development this way, “From headhunters to cyber world in one hundred years!” His use of the term “headhunters” is literal and not at all the post modern usage in Western corporate job hunting circles.
- My ultimate destination and purpose of this H4C adventure was to tour our children’s residential school in Mokokchung, Nagaland. An arduous travel intinerary was required as follows: vehicle ride to JFK Airport, flight to Heathrow Airport, UK, flight to Stuttgart, Germany, flight to Istanbul, Turkey, flight to Mumbai, India, flight to Kolkata, India, flight to Dimapur, Nagaland, six-hour vehicle ride to Kohima, and five-hour vehicle ride to Mokokchung. You may be saying, “Whew!” I did! In my quest to become saturated with Naga culture and geography our hosts agreed to a three night stay in Kohima. There, I would visit both historical, commercial, and trekking sites. Before I get to that, though, I cannot resist showing you some examples of “signing” that I saw on city streets and along roads. Here you will find also a mini portion of Kohima’s remarkable history.
In 1996, my friends Chuba and Tiala Ao opened a children’s residential school, referred to as an “English” school, in Mokokchung, Nagaland, part of the Northeast States of India. Hindi is also taught to all students. Currently, the enrollment is 430 children ranging in age from four years old through eighteen. Today I spoke with Tiala and her daughter, Sentila, who now runs the school since her father’s death in July, 2005. Sentila and her husband, Moa Jamir, are among our HOPE FOR CHANGE partners in India.
Last year Monsoon brought rain during the second week of April which was much earlier than 2009 and 2010 when the school campus was parched until mid-June. Generally, the “dry season” lasts for four months from January thru April and everyone watches the skies over Mokokchung for the winds of Monsoon to bring the big, dark clouds. However, in order to “harvest” rainfall from the sky, the bulging clouds must stall long enough to deposit the rainfall in the existing roof reservoir. When they don’t - the school staff must purchase bottled water.
Rainfall in 2009 was too sparse; in the final analysis rainfall in 2010 was too much ~ crops were ruined. Too much rainfall also brings sickness ~ epidemics of malaria, cholera, and typhoid. Sadly, immunizations are few and far between. Rainfall last year was moderate.
During the months of February and March and early April of last year, school administrators had to send their chief driver, Bahadur, to town to buy water every day. Actually, Bahadur made the 5K drive twice a day never knowing for certain if the town supplies had run out or not.
Now look at the picture up above. Tiala is standing next to a case of twelve 1-litre bottles of water. Add 7,988 litres to that case and you’d have the amount that Bahadur hosed into the truck ‘s water tank each morning and afternoon during the dry months ~ 8,000 litres of water a day. At the present exchange rate the purchase price comes to approximately $ 17.40 per day plus the cost of diesel fuel and Bahadur’s pay. That adds up to just under $130.00 per week and close to $520.00 a month.
I can think of better uses for the school’s precious operating funds. So can Tiala, Moa & Sentila. Placing more children in the classrooms and dormitories comes to mind first ~ local children who long for the type of accredited education provided by the school.
Here is good news ~ there is a solution to having to buy 8,000 litres of water a day! Moa, the school’s resident engineer, has a plan to build a second “Roof Reservoir System” which would harvest rain from the heavens during the rainy season. Enough could be collected, stored, and filtered to see the campus residents through next year’s dry season. Wouldn’t that be wonderful!
You can read all about the details of this system and the modest cost on our web site www.H4Cinternational.org Click on the Current Projects Tab and then the Engineering icon and scroll down to “Nagaland Water Reservoir System”. Construction can begin as soon as the funds come in. Donations may be sent via U.S. Postal System to our Lake Katrine address or through PayPal on the web site. Please note that PayPal deducts a processing fee.
Yours for Hope For Change,
Sarah Anne Smith
Here are some pictures of the musicians, H4C Directors, and volunteers who made the H4C Benefit Concert a night to remember. We’ll write more soon… Until then ~ huge thanks to all who came and gave to the cause!
On November 10, 2009 my British Airways flight (BA179) brought me to JFK and my final destination after six weeks of travel to the UK/India/Nagaland/Sweden. As the South Asia Director of projects for HOPE FOR CHANGE INTERNATIONAL www.H4Cinternational.org my purpose was to visit and evaluate the development and needs of schools and orphanages. My review of prospective partners and projects required me to travel to various regions of India. Additionally, stopovers in Coventry, England and Enkoping, Sweden were included in the itinerary to meet with the European supporters of projects in Nagaland.
In order to accomplish our H4C goals, my timeline would extend across 41 days and 41 nights, over 24,000 miles on 11 different air flights. I slept in 7 different beds, ate 7 different cuisines, and drank from 7 local water sources (after boiling, of course!). My body and outlook needed to adjust to temperatures ranging from 36F to 96F – a sixty degree spread. My carry-on and two luggage pieces were filled with clothing for 3 different cultures and 3 different climates.
“Health is Number One!” When travelling in a developing nation staying healthy has to be on the top of the list. Any of you readers who have travelled to villages in Africa, Latin America, and Asia will concur that you do not want to get sick and have to go to a hospital or medical clinic in a developing nation. Here’s a personal fact – generally, I do not sleep on planes. My sleep patterns during this trip included several twenty-four hour periods with absolutely no sleep at all and numerous nights with only three to four hours of the blissful state. Nevertheless, despite my lack of sleep and my arduous & rigorous schedule, excellent health was mine from start to finish! “Beyond my human ability!” was a frequent thought and statement from my lips. For those of you who prayed for my health and stamina, your prayers worked!
In airports, cities, and villages Sarah Jane (my travel partner) and I were the focus of all eyes, firstly because we are Westerners. Add to that that we are two women and I am fair-haired and interest in us reached the tipping point. I cannot count how many times the question was asked to me, “Where are you from?” Usually these were women, women with children with searching eyes, and sometimes with husbands leaning in on their shoulders, and sometimes with a small crowd behind the brave one who would ask the question. Shall I say that I found the Indian people to be curious?
Delight, Ahhhs…, and BIG smiles would spread across their faces in a ripple effect. My answer, “USA”, would be repeated and echoed until all were satisfied with the answer that they half-suspected anyway. I enjoyed this experience and never tired of taking the time to be engaged in this warm exchange of cultures. The predictable second question was, ”Where in the USA?” In some encounters with groups of young people after saying, “New York, but not New York City”, a third question was necessary to complete their thought process. When this first happened I paused and quickly considered my next answer. Should I say Saugerties, should I say Kingston or…should I say … Woodstock? I reasoned that Woodstock was probably on “their map” more than Saugerties or Kingston. Really, I wanted to give them something that they could relate to or knew something about.
So I said Woodstock and they did know about it! Most had heard of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. I further explained that my home was a fifteen minute drive from Woodstock, that I lived a brief walk from the Hudson River which was one of the first and most famous rivers in the USA, and that I walk along the Hudson for my weekly “river reverie” walks. I continued that The Catskill Mountains and an international ski resort, Hunter Mountain, are located in our region of New York State, that we were 60 miles south of Albany, capital of NYS, and 110 miles north of Manhattan, NYC. My listeners could see the glint in my eyes and detect the affectionate tone of my voice as I described where I live. I was boasting about Ulster County, proud of it, my home.
One week after I returned home on November 10th I realized that our frige was empty and that I needed to get back in the groove of being home and go FOOD SHOPPING. Seven weeks had transpired since I had driven my Hyundai Elantra. “Better go easy on my re-entry”, I thought and in the evening decided on just going to two smaller local stores, Mother Earth’s (Storehouse) and Adams (Fairacre Farms). You may not believe what I am about to tell you but I actually had an epiphany as I drove on Route 209, down the Exit Ramp and onto Route 9W South.
The night sky was clear with sparkling constellations, crescent moon coming up in the Southern sphere, all the road lights were glistening with very little traffic to occupy my attention, and everywhere my gaze fell ( how could I help but compare since I just come from India) was immaculate and orderly! Even certain stores and gas stations that I had considered unattractive prior to this trip actually looked okay on this, my first night out.
While making the turn past the refrigerated aisle in Mother Earth, I came upon Eileen, a neighbor of ours and someone I have gotten to know while going in to Mother Earth all these years. Eileen is a good listener and knew that I had been away for six weeks. She welcomed me home and asked about my travel. After a brief foray into my trip overview I relayed to her my “glowing” experience while driving minutes before. Eileen listened with a broadening smile spreading across her face. My last words were, “Eileen, we live in a blessed area!”
People ask me if I am glad to be home. Without hesitation I say, “Yes!”
Sarah Anne Smith