Waking up in a house whose owners or occupants I did not know, had never seen or heard of, after a warm and restful sleep, was for me a maiden experience. For, the night before a couple of our good friends from the village had led Joma and me after dinner and shown us to this cozy single room. Now in the morning, it was both singular and pleasant to sit with Athein and her husband sipping the warm spicy tea she had made, unable to comprehend the dialect that Joma was talking to them.
For Joma, there was a pleasant surprise in store. Actually, he had guessed it the day before. Sitting then in the bus as we had neared the villages, Joma had recognized the language of these Naga villagers as the same as his from Manipur. Now, he had found that Athein and her husband shared the same sir name and the same dialect as Joma’s family did for they shared the same ancestors. Moreover, Joma discovered that he was the paternal uncle of GB, the headman of Maova village! I taunt Joma that luckily he was married. In addition, the uncle was younger than the nephew was!
So, to GB’s house go Joma and me, some more cups of tea, and while Joma explores more familial ties, GB relates from memory the address of his friend in Kallar of Iddukki district in Kerala, once he came to know that I am from Kerala. Here was another instance of this simple yet great man who liked another so much that he remembered his friend’s address though he had not written to him, or seen him for more than a decade!
As we sit and sip thus with GB, from the group of houses in the Headman’s compound emerge Jahanbi, her sister Ankita, Rituu, Sanghamitra and Lucy. Only then, it dawns on me that GB had offered his hearth and home to five of our people. Certainly, his heart was as large as his houses were!
Rituu ever conscious of the time, goads us to breakfast at the church grounds, where we meet Khreibu President of N-Naga Dao, acronym for Network of Nagaland Drugs and AIDS Organizations, Chenithung Executive Director of Bethesda Youth Welfare Center, and James Murry, who everyone likes to call cowboy because of his stark resemblance to one!
At the Community Hall Viki and her team are distributing sealed cups of Yoghurt and Samosas. So, I allow myself the treat. The morning sessions begin with a quick recap of the SALT visits through narration of the three AAR from the selected representatives. Maii’s and Sanghamitra’s facilitation helps by highlighting the strengths that would otherwise not be seen, exposing the nuances and subtle connections of cause and effect of inspiration that actually provides fuel to both own and force the community response onward, as well as spread all over the community.
Thus, the AAR provokes more sharing. Some of these, as Rituu had commented on my earlier blog, were of, Thanggin Gangte fighting his battle with drugs, and how we kicked the drugs habit the day he was chosen as a Church Leader. Thanggin Gangte changed and did not revert to the drug habit just because some one accepted him and saw his potential, and had faith in him. Have a look at Thanggin’s video and listen to his story as they say from the horses mouth, thanks to Joma who has uploaded the video at:http://tinyurl.com/2vzwmx4
Lucy's passion for working with children brought out the same theme of acceptance when she took a small girl home and offered space to sleep next to her, as there was no other place. This simple act turned the girl into an advocate for the response.
Uncle Houlai's armamentarium of CLCP stories can never be exhausted. Preparing to tell yet another one, he digs both his hands into his pant pockets, probably selecting the most appropriate one, before he starts narrating them, ones like the plastic bag story, and others that Rituu has already recounted on his behalf in this forum.
Jahanbi and Ankita's story on family support move is practical, to the point, yet penetrating, and piquant. Similar is the story of how the competence process galvanized the women of Molvum village to guard the village to check the inflow of drugs; how the men chipped in with support to these brave women, and thus make immune their village and community from the otherwise entrapping tentacles of the mafia.
Joma makes a request for a role play, which Rituu and Sanghamitra accede to. And as Sanghamitra said later the play was actual visualization of how the competence process by involving the whole community brings in non-discrimination, acceptance, appreciation and sustainability. Moreover, Joma’s rendering of it by displaying the stark difference with similar Targeted Intervention scenarios would have been enough to change the stoutest skeptic’s heart. Therefore, in my summing up of the session I had to confess that I would be robbing Joma’s role-play as an apt tool to reinforce my pet theme of revealing the lacunae in our Targeted Intervention programs.
Sanghamitra and Maii introduce a mouth-watering feast both for the mind and tongue as they unfold the rest of the day. Accordingly, we looked forward to the knowledge fair, the lunch at Seiboy the GB’s house, the traditional Naga wild-boar hunting dance, the North East Support team meeting to plan the way forward and finally after sunset the grand cultural show by the Youth of the village, followed by dinner and farewell.
At the knowledge fair stalls by Kekhrie Foundation, People in Need Foundation, and DNP+, which are spread out in front of the stream, and in the aganwadi, onlookers glance at the knowledge products on display. The poster about the before-and-after-ACP-scenarios, adorn one wall of the anganwadi. On the opposite wall of the Anganwadi are photos put in a divergent beam from a torch showing photos depicting the evolution and growth of ACP. The story of the IDU who turned because of faith, the wife who was discovered positive in a testing centre, and her ability to deal with the after effects because of the support from family and an accepting community, are yields that can be replicated by any human being. One engrossing poster was about the timely averting of the mass testing and ex-communication programme thought up by the GB of a particular village, but due to the GB-headman understanding at the last-moment about competence, good sense prevailed with a consequent change of decision not to have the compulsory testing.
Viky, and Mezea, of Kekhrie Foundation, Kohima, are manning the stalls, and I have come away without thanking any of them. Like Jacinta a staff member of People in Need Foundation, whom I had only spoken to for getting my tickets; the ever-present and ever-helpful Bijoya of NEDHIV, who volunteered for ACP in People in Need Foundation. Moreover, there are hundreds of unseen faces and unknown names, from the villages, who worked tirelessly and with enthusiasm for these two days.
Lunch was preceded by a short ceremony of honouring the visitors to the village. The wife of the GB, namely, Seiboy’s mama adorned every visitor with the customary Naga shawl bearing the state emblem. After another tasty lunch, we settled into the large circle of chairs in front of the Community Hall. The traditional Naga wild-boar hunting dance began with the male dancers dressed in black and red, and blowing bamboo whistles, the female dancers with braided hairs and white tops. They spun themselves in a whirling fashion forming a constricting spiral to the slow rhythmic beat of the lead dancer tapping on a drum.
After the dancers had left, the meeting of the North East Support team where everyone recounts what take away they had as well as the way forward, especially plans to spread ACP in other states of the North East. Jahanbi and Ankita state how they would involve INP+ and ANP+, as well as spread CLCP to other positive networks within India. Sana outlines how he would use Malaria competence in Manipur, as well as how to get the Manipur and Sikkim SACS on board the ACP ship. Fr. Joe and Rituu talk about the proposal they had put up with Nagaland SACS. Also, Fr. Joe ekes out a plan for spreading ACP to all the districts in Nagaland. Next stage is linking up teams within Northeast especially Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland. There is talk by INP+ of presenting CLCP for a hour or two in their upcoming meeting for three days at the end of Nov 2010, with the funding agencies, and key government functionaries and partners.
There are discussions for the Northeast participation in Karnataka Knowledge fair in Feb 2011. Fr. Joe speaks of Central Government funding for CLCP in Nagaland. Sanghamitra and Rituu propose how in the NACP-IV consultations, we can bring in CLCP and what are the entry points. Rituu and Fr. Joe remind us of the NNP+ proposal and the plans for Nagaland Legislative forum meeting respectively.
Plans keep pouring, as the evening sky pours out darker shades across a deep sunset painted against the tree tops and hilltops. Soon, under a brightening new moon with the football pavilion now decked up as the well-lit stage with symmetrical bonfires in its foreground, and a good portion of the huge football field filled with chairs the village gathered for the grand cultural show organized by the Youth Club of the Maova village. A second standard child from the village sang a lilting welcome, so sweet she looked her clear young voice floating over the crowd. Fr. Joe, Uncle Houlai, are not spared by the master of ceremonies and have to give short speeches. Every speech is interspersed with a good song. I find myself reciprocating the warm hug of Thangin sitting next to me. He knew that we would be leaving soon. Therefore, he takes my card. The cheers become the loudest when the MC invites Rituu to sing. It was apparent by the cheers that Rituu more by singing a song became that night a star to the crowd than how she sang it. Neither is Ankita spared, and she sings a few lines of an Assamese song. I feel bad when we have to leave this program suddenly, for a quick dinner.
Saying farewell to the nicest, simplest folks I have known in the shortest time are the last moments. These are special ones with Athin the church’s community cook whose hand had fed us, Thangin and GB. The bus drive back to Dimapur passes swiftly as I was next to Maii and we discuss the strategies of complementing TI programs with CLCP as well as spirituality and HIV. Thus, quickly we reach Hotel Nagi, where we had left two days ago.
This is the second part of the blog titled, "From the North-East Knowledge Fair: CLCP was there before the CLCP facilitators", which is at:https://aidscompetence.ning.com/profiles/blogs/from-the-northeast-k...