We wake up early, and start driving through thick fog from Jorhat towards Dimapur ( in Nagaland). Our first stop today is at the Don Bosco Institute – a missionary center.
Talking to Father Thomas, in charge of the institute, was interesting, in view of the community development work that we are hoping to undertake through our NGO. The Don Bosco institute has been actively working with the Mising community for a few years now, achieving some degree of success in helping the community develop. Bosconian missionaries work with youth around the world and the Bosconians here are involved in similar effort. They were training selected youth from the Mising community. The youth, in turn, were going out and working in their villages, trying to solve the specific problems of the villages. Talking to the father confirmed what we had heard from the civil official in Margherita – each village had its own specific problems, and addressing those problems needs engagement and involvement from the villagers. This I guess is in keeping with the Self Help Group initiated by the govt, though the self help groups have not really been a huge success in villages from what I have heard so far. But the youth trained by the missionaries seemed to have been more successful – if their future plans are any indication. There is a weaving center being built in the institute, and they have plans for starting a computer center. An interesting issue was also brought up by Father Thomas – apparently a number of youngsters from the villages were seeking jobs as security guards and watchmen in bigger cities – these were educated youth, but they did not have the skills needed for a job. Father Thomas wanted to figure out a way to train these youth so that they would not have to leave their homes for a job that was not financially rewarding. It was interesting since I had run into a number of young Assamese boys working as security guards in Hyderabad, but I did not realize it was a problem in the villages.
K2 and I bought a handloom sample – a kurta with Mising design. We also promised the Father to help with two things –K2 will help him design the database for information on the 250 + villages they are working with and we would also help him in exploring markets for their weaving center. K2 and I thought this would be valuable experience for us to learn how this business worked.
After the Don Bosco Instt. we drove straight onto Dimapur. On the way, we passed through Karbi Anglong – a disturbed area. We drove straight on to Dimapur – very mindful of the signs that warned us “vehicle theft area – vehicles may be stolen with drugs or guns!”.
The drive took us through some beautiful tea estates. We arrived at Dimapur in the afternoon. J and M went to meet “over-ground” activists from NSCN (K2 and I waited outside the house, and watched the gun-toting men on the rooftops – during a time when ceasefire had been declared between the govt. and the extremists).
The Dimapur to Kohima ride was largely uneventful, but not monotonous thanks to some lively discussions with J. Kohima was beautiful in the evening – the houses all lit up with Christmas lights.