mission Chenloisho : raising hopes was a maiden initiative by footprint:charity and reviewNE to reach out to the people of the remote village in the Mon region along the border with Myanmar and support them in little ways they could. A quick campaign was set up to reach out to friends and relatives to help collect clothes and stuffs. Volunteers and supporters came in from Imphal, Kohima, and Dimapur and donated items for the cause.
footprint:charity is a not-for-profit initiative focused on empowering the less fortunate people of the North East region. One act of humanity at a time touching the lives of the forgotten in these hills called home.
Chenloisho is located about 70 kms away from Mon town towards the border with Myanmar but the roads are so bad that it takes 3 hours to reach it. The kutcha roads are narrow and ridden with potholes and slippery turns. A construction project to make a wider road was underway.
Halfway on the road towards Chenloisho, as we stopped for tea, this Konyak man was heading for his fields; gun on his shoulder and ready for a long hard day.
Chenloisho is comprised of 2 villages – the old and the new – as they call it. We visited the new village which lies nested on a small hillock above the old village. The new village is almost empty and homes were scattered; being a new settlement.
The old village has a more rustic feel with more traditional style huts and dwellings compared to the new village. This is a view of the old village from a point midway towards the new village.
The kitchen inside the Deacon’s residence is simple and enigmatic. Food is cooked on the traditional fireplace. Surprisingly, the villagers take very less meat and there are hardly any meat hung above the fireplace; which is quite uncommon for a traditional Naga kitchen.
The villagers include a lot of greens in their meals. These leafs were steamed and served during lunch and dinner. Yam and the local red rice are staple food here.
The Myanmar border is about 30 mins walk from the village. These womenfolk were busy clearing up a patch for farming across the border with Myanmar. They were very apprehensive and reserved when they were first being photographed from a distance. But they lightened up as we approached them and showed them their photos.
Elvis, co-founder of footprint:charity, showing the pictures that he took for some of the womenfolk working on a field across the border with Myanmar. The moment they saw their pictures, their faces lit up with smiles and full of awe.
One of the womenfolk working on the patch across the Myanmar border. The glorious smile is priceless.
The deacon (with the walking stick), the local ex-MLA’s father (middle), and the deacon’s aide.
The GB (Village Elder) of the village. He told us stories about the IInd World War when the British came to the Konyak region and how they were made to fight alongside the British. Apparently he was only 12 then. He believes that even if Nagaland or India falls today, the Konyaks will still thrive.
The Deacon and the GB resting on the porch in front of the Deacon’s house. The Deacon’s residence is one of the few houses with electricity in the village.
The Deacon’s wife and daughter.
The cute little daughters of the Deacon.
The Angh of the village. At first instance, he didn’t seem much like an Angh, but when he spoke a powerful and authoritative voice echoed with words full of wisdom and panache like a true leader.
The Angh’s wife. She was charming, shy, and nice. She spoke slowly with a shy smile as she prepared the afternoon tea in her kitchen.
The lone shopkeeper in the village. He had almost all kinds of stuffs in his little shop – coke, wafers, salt, shoes, lanterns, biscuits, candles… but no cigarettes. 🙂
This transistor radio is apparently the only one of its kind in the village. This man here was listening to the news of BJP’s epic win in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The carrom board is the only means of entertainment in the village. Everyday these folks will gather around it watching and waiting for their turn to play.
The Deacon’s son rejoicing his winning strike.
Our local guide, Chingkei engrossed in a game of carrom. He is also a teacher at the local Bible School.
The clothes donated by supporters of mission Chenloisho stacked and piled up ready to be sorted and organized.
Elvis inspecting the clothes piled up to be distributed to the villagers.
Benny, co-founder of footprint:charity and also Strategy & PR Head at reviewNE, sorting and organizing the clothes to be distributed to the villagers.
A village elder who came by to pick up clothes during the distribution. He said he heard about the photographs being taken in the village and esp. came to get photographed.
Children waiting for their turn to collect the clothes.
Young girls ruffling through the clothes, giggling, smiling, and looking for their choice.
The children cheered up and rejoiced as they tried out the clothes. A lot many of them didn’t have any warm clothes. Socks, jackets, sweaters were a huge hit among the children.
After she got the jacket and a pair of sandals, she removed the jacket and had it nicely folded and wrapped around her hands. When asked why she was not wearing it, she said she’s keeping it safe for the coldest of times.
This little boy was quirky and full of life. He was so excited and happy when we showed him his pictures. That’s one of the most genuine smiles ever.
The most shy and hardworking girl in the village. She goes out with her 2 little sisters to fetch water at least 3-4 times a day. She was so shy, she wouldn’t even look eye to eye.
Education for the children needs a lot of focus and improvement in the village. Only a few families could afford to send their children to school. A handful of them goes to the Govt. run school and another private school in the old village. The lack of a proper school is the pain point for the children of the new village. Even though there is a make shift school in the village, there are no full time teachers but only volunteers who teach without charging anything from the parents. The village elders stressed on educational support every time they get a chance to interact with us.
These two little boys study at the Govt. run school.
A plaque on the only shop at the taxi stand which is also one of the few shops in the old village.
An elder from the old village going to his field with all his gear loaded on his back – the dao, the straw hat et al.
The taxi from Chenloiso to Mon. It carries 10 passengers per trip and costs 250INR per passenger. If you are backpacking and on a budget this is the ride for you.
Back in Mon town, a Konyak elder wearing it with pride. Mon – the land of the Angh.
Thanks to the people who supported us and made it a delightful experience for the people of Chenloisho and us.
Nyambe and sisters
Tozheli and family
Among and family
Rilo Therie and family
Angamba Kh and family
Special mention and thanks to Lemwang W. Chuhwanglim for introducing Chenloisho and helping us plan out the initiative. Thanks to Shokha and Chingkei for taking care of us at Mon and Chenloisho.