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Former dropouts, future leaders of Mising Tribe venture on a Cultural Exchange Programme

By Fr. Tarcisius T & Mr. Manoranjan D
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Dimapur, Oct. 11. From 2 - 5 October, the dropouts being trained at, Karsang Takar, Sadiya, Assam, to become leaders of the Mising tribal community, boarded the newly acquired 'Morning Star' bus on their way to other parts of the Northeast - the 24 seat Marco Polo, Star Bus, a gift of MIVA, Austria, to I-CARD for its rural development programmes.
The learning cum cultural exchange trip, organized by I-CARD (Institution for Culture And Rural Development), Jorhat was another step at empowering the school dropouts of 2011 batch, who have by now completed 9 months of their year-long leadership training. Their first stopover was at Siloam, sponsored by Fr. George Palamattathil, an ardent supporter of I-CARD. The world-class venue was a treat for the Mising tribal youth hailing from the remotest villages of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

On 3 October, Monday, the young people visited the Mawsmai Caves, in Cherrapunjee, the wettest place on earth. On their way back they saw the Elephant Falls beyond Shillong. The visit to Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures (Don Bosco Museum), besides being a learning experience, was also an invitation to the young people to contribute to the upcoming Mising museum planned by I-CARD at Jorhat. Back at Siloam, the youth performed their cultural show for the 60 national and international members of the Mennonite community from Kolkata who had arrived that day for a programme.

From Siloam, the young adults took their way down to Guwahati, where they were welcomed by Mushroom Development Foundation (MDF), at Panjab-bari, 6th Mile. The two-hour session on the cultivation of edible mushrooms made the young people think of an alternative source of nourishment in their villages which are constantly affected by floods. Mr. Kushal Doley, a staff of MDF, is himself a Takar, trained by I-CARD. In the evening, the group moved to Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra, the topmost cultural resource centre of Assam, situated at Panjab-bari. There the young representatives of the Mising tribe presented a one-hour cultural show, consisting of songs, dances and a street theatre drama. Although the show was informal, hundreds of visitors to the centre, enthused the young artists. The timing was perfect. The show was so arranged to target additional visitors flocking to the centre during the Puja festival.  The same night, the Mising youth had a repeat function at Little Flower School, Hatigaon, for their staff, trainees and sisters. The programme was coordinated by Sr. Rose Jolley.

On 5 October, the troupe started their return journey via Saraighat bridge, going over to the north bank of Brahmaputra river. There was a long halt at Rowta, in a Bodo village. The young people were able to draw a comparison between Bodo villages and their own Mising villages. The cleanliness and hard work of the Bodos were lessons for the group. The three-mile ride over the Kalia Bhomora Bridge was again something that the young people always wanted to have. That dream, besides the joy of seeing rhinos and wild elephants in Kaziranga, were fulfilled as the bus riders drove back to Dergaon.  Supper was served for them at ARDA Bhawan, Mother Teresa village, for the group. This centre belongs to I-CARD. It produces Mising handloom and handicrafts for exhibition and sale. The Karsang Takar students reached Jorhat, their destination, at 9.30 pm.

The continuous reflection and guidance offered by Fr. K.A. Thomas, their director, kept the young minds informed. The whole exposure was thus a learning experience for the young people. Learning 1: Individuals start institutions, which need other committed individuals to manage them. Such institutions help the progress and learning of larger communities. From such communities come more individuals who produce other institutions. Example: Don Bosco started a society that needed committed personnel. It then mobilized a larger religious society, the Salesians. From there came Fr. George Palamattathil, Fr. Sebastian Karotemprel  and Fr. K.A. Thomas, the founders of Don Bosco Museum, Siloam and I-CARD. The whole of the Mising society is being served by I-CARD, started by one individual.  Learning 2: Misings need a museum, like Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures, to help preserve and promote their own tribal riches. The museum is a dream of I-CARD. Learning 3: Don Bosco and other forward looking organizations support free trainings of young people in vocational skills, and help employment placements. It is necessary to give this information to youth in need. Learning 4: Institutions, through individuals, bring world technology to India, like the printing press and carpentry in Don Bosco Technical school, Shillong. Learning 5: Dropouts who are exposed and informed need not remain backward, diffident and inferior, due to their lack of money, education level or tribal background.
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