Where on earth is Nagaland?
Nagaland is a state in North East India, bordering on Burma to the East and Assam to the West. Although part of India since 1947, Nagaland is ethnically, culturally, economically and spiritually different from the rest of the country. The Naga people bear Mongolian features and are divided into 16 main tribal groups, some living in the few main towns and the majority living in the 800+ small, isolated rural villages, surviving mainly on agriculture and animal rearing. In such places, the infrastructure is very inadequate and there is limited funding from the Government. The country is very isolated with very little tourism since it is a Restricted Area requiring visitors to gain special permits before entering the country. There are poor roads, limited electricity and running water, poor telecommunications and lack of educational and medical facilities. Despite all this, the people are extremely warm, hospitable and generous with a deep Christian faith.
Why do we at SCCC go there?
One of our members, Alemla Twiss, comes from Nagaland. She has lived in the UK for more than 30 years but continues to have a passion for her homeland and the plight of her people, especially the rural poor whose lives are so disadvantaged. As a congregation, we have felt led to work alongside Alemla and her family in seeking to help the rural community of Akumen develop economically, educationally, medically and spiritually.
Akumen Village: What’s it like?
Akumen village is a small, isolated village surrounded by beautiful jungle with 400 adults and approximately 70 children close to the Assam border. The village has received electricity but there is still no running water and only a narrow dirt access road dug by the villagers. The nearest bus is 3 km away. The Village infrastructure is very simple but orderly overseen by the village chief and a council of 8 men. The village has a small school for the youngest children, a village hall and a church providing the focus of the community.
The villagers live in simple cane, wood and bamboo houses. The majority are involved in subsistence agriculture – growing tea, rice, vegetables and fruit and small scale animal rearing for their own needs and thus have little or no income. Prior to our involvement, the village had no medical facilities whatsoever, a serious lack in a community which has a wide range of health needs associated with living in a poor, rural environment.
What projects have we achieved so far?
Over the past 5 years, 4 different teams have visited Nagaland working alongside the villagers and offering their different skills to help in a number of development projects as follows:
1. Building projects:
- Extension of the village church
- Rebuilding of 2 main bridges into the village
- Land clearance and the building and equipping of a craft training centre
2. Medical Projects:
- Establishment of a medical centre with a doctor visiting monthly
- Basic health and hygiene training for the villagers
- Provision of a small van to be used primarily for medical emergencies (sponsored buy the BESOM, London)
3. Educational Projects:
- Establishment of an educational sponsorship scheme for village children
- Sponsorship of one teacher to teach and head up the sports project
- Equipping of the school including books, visual aids, uniforms
- Establishment of a small garden area for teaching purposes for children.
- Establishment of an educational resource centre with a reading zone, an educational games zone, an English language zone, a sports zone, a visual media zone (with DVD and television)
- Provision of sports equipment to stimulate sports activities including cricket, football, table tennis, badminton and volleyball.
4. Crafts Project
- Development of a small scale creative arts cottage industry programme providing training in weaving, sewing, card making, bamboo and cane work, woodwork
- Establishment of the craft training centre to engage in craft production for marketing locally, in India and overseas via brochures and our website.
5. Farm Project:
- Purchase of livestock for animal rearing chickens, pigs
- Start of small agricultural plot growing pineapples and bananas
6. Water Provision project: (generously sponsored by Operation Agri and The Rotary Club of Hove, West Sussex)
- The development of a water harvesting project collecting water off the village church roof and storing it in large tanks located strategically around the village.
- The piping of water from a waterfall just on the perimeter of the village down into the village. This project is still in progress. The pipes need to be dug in and a settlement tank needs to be built. (completion expected late 2009)
7. Prayer and Discipleship Centre In Dimapur, the main town
- Construction of a small prayer centre in Irali Bill, Dimapur
- The commissioning and sponsorship of a prayer ministry team
- Work among children
- Discipleship training for local people
Nagaland Picture Galleries
- Akumen Village School
- The Akumen Educational Resource Centre
- Weaving, Sewing and Card Making Craft Project
- Wood Cane and Bamboo Craft Project
- Village People
- Building of Craft Centre (2004-5)
- Akumen Bridge Building (2004)
- Akumen Village Scenes
- More Nagaland Village Scenes
- Medical Project
- Dimapur Prayer Centre