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News 2013 September

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Turning Waste into Jewels

By Thomas Kalapurackal, SDB
I-Card Youth ready for Social Work at the Health care Centre
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Kolkata, Sep. 14.   Jorhat: Institution for Culture And Rural Development (I-CARD), Jorhat, concluded another of its bi-annual meeting, called Lekop Sil Mel, of the past and the present trainees on 6th September. The event which started on 31st August was a training cum meeting centred around the theme of 'recap, refill, resolve' for the students of Karsang Takar, empowerment centre for school dropouts.  90 young people from eight districts of Assam and three districts of Arunachal Pradesh took part in the rejuvenating and resourceful progrmame with their life time 'gurus' and mentors - Fr. Thomas,  Rajen Perme and Indira Perme.
The re-union started on 31st August, with a colourful ethnic inaugural function, presided over by Muktinath Doley, ex Additional Deputy Commissioner of Jorhat and Debendranath Doley, the retired Customs and Excise Officer.  The admiration of the chief guests towards the gigantic service rendered by Fr. Thomas to Mising youth resonated in the hearts of the young participants as the former said they would extend their hands to support Fr. Thomas in every way possible.  

In his input session Fr. Thomas made the participants realize that I-CARD transforms the lives of these dropout youngsters in the villages, picking them up, polishing them over two years' of training, and transforming them finally into precious jewels. ''With 205 school dropouts'', said Fr. Thomas, ''I-CARD has made an entry into 380 Mising tribal villages, bringing attitudinal changes and preparing them for a developed future.  Frustrated, hope-less and discouraged young people from villages are instilled with pride and self confidence sufficient to be social motivators.''

Dr. Tridip Goswami and Dr. Dipul Kalita of North East Institute of Science and Technology (NEIST) in their presentation on Rural technology, talked about banana stems and pineapple leaves as possible raw materials for making cloth or ropes, or waste materials to make handmade paper.  Their discussion was titled ''turning waste into wealth'.  Fr. Thomas mentioned after their two hour session that what they do with materials is precisely what I-CARD does with human lives.

A large chunk of the six day event was the training on campaign as a strategy for social development and transformation. Five sessions were taken by Mr. Joseph Mathews and Fr. Jossy Mathews, the youth director of I-CARD. After detailing the principles, they went on to demonstrations and hands on training, ending with a rally around the campus. Mr. Probin of Bosco Institute, took a session on India's recent eye catcher - the right to education act. I-CARD intends to engage its sub cadres, the members of Young Misings Association (YMA), Agency for Rural Development Action (ARDA) and Takars to bring a revolution in the village education scenario by resorting to campaigning.

Dr. Jerry Thomas, director of Bosco Institute, kept the students spellbound for two hours during his session on motivation. Everyday of the training the youngsters had almost two hours of social work. I-CARD is now recognized by the local public for teaching young people the principles of community service.  On 5th Sept, the death anniversary of Mother Teresa, 24 of our youth helped cook and serve food for the poor in Nirmal Hriday, a Missionaries of Charity rehabilitation Home. I-CARD honours Mother Teresa as one of its patrons and roll models.

Another memorable event of the celebration was the welcome accorded to Manuel Etzold and Vincent Berbee, Don Bosco Volunteers from Germany, who arrived on 4th Sept. They will contribute their one year service to train the students of Jeevan Entrepreneurship Training Institute (JETI), a five month finishing school programme for college graduates. JETI is open to members of all communities, and offers primarily communicative English, personality development and computer.

The trained young people of I-CARD, known as Takars, have planned for a one month rally across Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to re-boost the spirits of some of their peers, to prod them to engage in community development  activities. The rally will culminate on 20th December, the next meeting  of Takars, in preparation for Jorhat's own annual tourism festival, called ethnique, organized by I-CARD, to be celebrated on  3-4-5 January, 2014. In addition they will have 11 regional Lekop Sil Mel  meetings of its TakarNet groups, after which each group will engage in social work in five schools  of the neighbourhood. This will happen three times a year under the direction of Dam Payeng.

I-Card has gone thorough a great journey with youth for the past 12 years, starting in January 2002.  The seed sown in the hearts of the young are beginning to bear fruit for the transformation of society.


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