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Tribal Youth Leaders' meet 2011

By Fr. Tarcisius T & Fr. Surjit K.
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Dimapur, Jun. 14. Altogether, 66 presidents and secretaries of ''Young Misings'' (YM),  gathered at Life Plus, Jorhat, from 7 - 10 June 2011, for their annual meeting. Fr. Thomas Kalapurackal, Director of the Institution for Culture And Rural Development (I-CARD) presided over the inaugural session.  Sir Nava Doley welcomed the participants, and helped organize the youth for discussions and other activities. In his introduction, K.A. Thomas SDB challenged the young people to ask themselves such questions as: ''For whom do you raise your hand? What do you speak up for? Whom do you stand up for?'' ''The voice of the young must be heard. Their problems must be addressed'' he added.
The young men and women hailed from eight districts of Assam and three districts of Arunachal Pradesh. In addition there were 20 Youth volunteers and I-CARD staff attending the programme. The first session of the evening was taken by Fr. Thomas, on ''success is for those who begin a new life.''
On 8 June, Theotimus Lakra SDB, Director of Don Bosco Youth Services - Dimapur,  took two sessions on the purpose and benefits of coming together in groups.  Through games, activities and interactive sessions, he showed the participants that when youth come together in groups, there will be change, there will be development. He raised the question: for whom is the ''Young Misings'' movement - for one's own name or for the betterment of the villages?'' He warned the youth saying that failures may make one discouraged, but one can turn them into stepping stones to success.
Surjijt Kujur SDB, assistant director of I-CARD, spoke about self-awareness. He said that only those who are personally aware can bring about awareness in the society. To build up a good, healthy self-image and to create self-awareness there is need for: self-acceptance, self-affirmation, self-esteem and self-confidence. He also spoke about the qualities of good leaders. Fr. Neljen Anthony SDB, together with the participants analysed the problems of Mising youth.  They reached the conclusion that the society needs to overcome problems such as drinking of country liquor and unemployment. The tribe needs to invest more into quality education.
Nava Kumar Doley, the youth director and administrator of I-CARD, while speaking about physical, mental, spiritual and social aspects of personality development pointed out that only ''Good personalities can create model villages. He helped the participants to plan for a model society.
The daily morning meditation was taken by Fr. Thomas, director of I-CARD. The young men and women listened attentively as he told them that the greatest weapon is love, and to win, one needs to persist. These sessions made a deep impression on them as they mentioned in their evaluation. He told them they need to get out of their comfort zones to adjust to modern society, in order to save themselves and their community. As of now, poverty, illiteracy, lack of motivation to change rule their lives. Misings are subject to stereo-typing by other communities, said Fr. Thomas. According to him, large scale migration to Indian metros in search of employment and being exploited as they live in unorganized situations is becoming a major problem.
The concluding session of the ''Young Misings'' Presidents and Secretaries Meet was with Dr. BC Bhowmik, the Director - Extension Education, Assam Agriculture University, Jorhat. Dr. Bhowmik, a man of great learning and wide experience, spoke to the young Misings about the schemes available in the various government sectors, particularly through the university. He told them about the various trainings that they are offering to unemployed and dropout youth from under-privileged backgrounds. He said that there are lot of schemes under the university for the unemployed youth to start small income generating activities. He stressed that the society must change and the change must start with the participants themselves.
Besides serous sessions and lessons, the participants had light moments where they shared their family moments through family gathering, exercises, morning chores, morning walk, dances, songs and cultural presentations. As the end was drawing near, they found it difficult to part. In his farewell message, Fr. Thomas, the director of I-CARD, spoke about the various initiatives of I-CARD for the Mising tribe. He invited them to spread the message and enjoy development. In two and half days, the change in the young men and women was absolutely visible. They came as strangers but walked out as friends. They came in shy and walked out confident. They registered as 'hopeless' and bid farewell as 'hope-filled'. Many who were visiting Life Plus for the first time, were taken up by the atmosphere and lay out of Life Plus. They became emotional as they said, ''no other agency is doing so much for the Mising community.'' Gauging the change in the participants, Fr. Thomas, the director was absolutely clear in saying that the young  men and women who came to Life Plus on the 7th evening are not the ones who went out on the 10th morning.'' Everyone had experienced a change - a change for the better.
I-CARD has over 300 ''Young Misings'' groups, one in every village of its operation. The groups work for personal development, enjoy coming together and initiate developmental activities, drawing resources from the government, with the support of I-CARD. All the ''Young Misings'' groups were founded over the past nine years, by Karsang Takar students, the dropouts who underwent training offered by I-CARD. Marginalized youth have become change agents, proMising action, adding Life to life!


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