Dialogue on ‘Learning to live together' takes place in Nagaland
Stephania Menezes reports on a two-day programme in Nagaland for approximately 30 young people, facilitated by a team from Initiatives of Change for Life.
Lipichem Sangtam, a resident of Kiphire in Nagaland, met the ideas of Initiatives of Change a few years ago through his meeting with Mr Niketu Iralu. He has been actively trying to empower the youth and bring change to his village. On his invitation the Initiatives of Change for Life (IFL) team conducted a two-day programme for approximately 30 people on 15 and 16 April 2016. The theme was, 'Learning to Live Together'. Lipichem now sees a team possible for him to try bring the four divided tribes there together. Three tribes out of the four were represented here.
The venue, Alikhyang Zingki Valley was breathtaking, nestled by hills, with the serene river Zingki flowing here. Another 20 minutes by road leads to the village of Kiphri which is situated atop a hill.
The change in weather was unexpected, we were prepared for hot April weather but the sudden drop in temperatures to 16 degrees Centigrade and forecast of heavy rain made our stay challenging. The day began with a heavy downpour which brought both the organisers and the participants working together to set up a tent. Inspite of the rain, which made the road downhill difficult to navigate, most people came. The first thing that struck most of us was the authenticity and the humbleness of these people, something one rarely sees in metropolitan cities. The programme started with a few words by Lipichem sharing his hopes for Nagaland and the North-East of India, followed by inspiring words from Mr Niketu Iralu. Shri Wannyi Konyak, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Pungro, was the special guest, he spoke about the lack of reasoning power because of the illiteracy that is prevailing and said that reasoning power is essential to learn to live together and it will only come when one is educated. Skits, songs and stories of change were shared by the IFL team. Throughout the day, team building games and ice-breakers kept everyone enthusiastic and alert. The participants were very eager and ever willing to share and ask us questions. They shared their concerns about tribalism and insurgency. They also shared about their family and their hobbies.
As most of the participants stayed at the programme venue overnight, it was felt that after dinner we should sit around a fire and share stories about ourselves. Robert Solo, a resident of Kohima Village, who some years ago met the idea of IofC, joined us on this outreach. He and Peter Rutsa, a friend of Robert's who was intrigued by the determination and change in Robert and wanted to see what IofC was for himself, shared their life stories. It was inspiring that people could share their story so deeply even though they were meeting this larger family for the first time.
The next day we began at 6:00 am with a 20 minute time of quiet. The sharings were powerful and really deep. Thirteen participants shared. Some thoughts shared were:
- 'When I make bills and receipts as a doctor, I have often used money for personal reasons and I now see that this is wrong.'
- 'One friend had hurt me and I am carrying that bitterness for two years now, I should focus on the purpose of my life and this bitterness should be dropped.'
- 'I have been selfish and I have been focused on making money, I need to care for those around me.'
Mr John T Sangtam, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Meluri, joined us, a kind and humble soul.
How can putting things right in one's life and obeying the inner voice lead to change at the community and national level were addressed when Mr Niketu Iralu shared his story and that of his village 'Konoma'. It was followed by the story of Irene Laure (France and Germany ) and Zooni Dash sharing her story and conviction for the North-East of India. Before the valedictory, Lipichem and Robert spoke to the participants on what should be the next steps and how to take this fellowship ahead and decided to meet in mid May. Every person gathered there has something that was stirred inside them, fellowship and friendship will enrich all of us further.
An inspirational visit, three days without electricity, no communication with the outside world and yet we have never felt more connected.