IMPHAL, July 13: From a humble beginning in 1998 Sang Ga Muon In, SMI meaning ‘Solace Home for the Orphans’ now houses 50 orphans from different tribes.
The orphanage was established by the Kuki Women Union, KWU Churachandpur after the bitter ethnic conflict which shook the hills districts of Manipur in the 90s.
Following the ethnic conflict, thousands of children were left orphans with nowhere to go as their houses had been burnt during the conflict.
In a time of complete breakdown, the members of KWU started a movement to rescue the innocent children who had been left homeless and orphaned for no fault of theirs.
Though left with nothing in their hands, the women members started providing the children with love, care and shelter.
The KWU started started its first home in October 15, 1998 with directors, two dedicated wardens, Miss Tingben and Miss Baby Nengneihat, a Home Father Pasei Touthang who is still the house father and 15 other executive members.
It began in a thatched roof with eight children at Bijang village on a plot donated by (L) Jangngam Haokip. The house was inaugurated by (L) Rev Douzapao Haokip.
Later the house was extended after receiving donations from then Member of Parliament Holkhomang Haokip.
Speaking to this reporter, founder Director of the house, Lhingnu Touthang said the house was set up with certain aims and objectives including provision of basic needs of life to each of the children and to inculcate the dignity of mankind and love of God.
The KWU wanted the children to have their sense of respect for their elders and feelings of allegiance towards developing society.
Its goal is to mould them with human values and to make each child a messenger of love and peace so as to create a peaceful society.
She said that the house takes in children who have attained 5 years.
Till 2011, the house used to take in just real orphans without a single parent, however from this year the house started taking in children with single parents.
Today the orphanage is home to 50 children from different tribes
She further expressed her belief that with God’s help, the KWU will soon be able to house at least 500 children.
Education is made compulsory for each and every child and they are sent to Bethany Christian Higher Secondary School nearby for free and it is worth mentioning that every year, the principal of the school, Dr B Kam Zamung provides the children with free text books.
She continued that the children are also exposed to a spiritual week once in a month for their all-round development; tailoring classes are also provided as vocational training.
Sometimes the children are taken for turmeric farming as part of training and for fun.
A child could leave the house only after they finish their schooling and with their guardian’s consent. Each child is also sponsored for further studies according to their choice, she added.
Elaborating on its source of income, Lhingnu Touthang said that the house has no proper sponsor till today and is run mainly by faith in God and by donations received from people who love and care for the poor children.
She elaborated that the main contributions to the house are made by Hope for the Children, USA, local MLAs, MPs, VIPs and churches of different denominations of all tribes.
As for the daily expenses for food, education, health care and toiletries, the project director and her staffs had to literally beg from the wealthy and rich.
A hall for worship and study, ‘Louisa memorial Hall’ named after the donor Ms Louisa of Rochford Church has been constructed, she said.
Renovation of boys’ dormitory and construction of new toilet block was taken up under the assistance of the 41 Battalion BSF, Churachandpur.
Dining hall was constructed under the assistance of 140 Battalion BSF under CO Virender Singh and CO Sindhu while, a bore well was constructed by the office of former CCpur DC, Taranikanti, while fencing and drainage are provided by the MLA Local Area Development fund, DRDA and HFTC, USA.
Construction works of girls dormitory was started with funds received from the local MLA, TN Haokip under BRGF 2008 and it is in the final stage now, she told IFP
She further informed that the since the house is in its initial stages, it needs help and prayers in order to become full-fledged, self-reliant and self-sustainable institution in the years to come. The members feel that depending solely on donations for years together will not bring any development; it will only make people more dependent on others.
She further asserted that in order to become self-sustainable, a decision has been made to procure few assets to generate income other than the farm products.
He however expressed the need, support and help funds to complete the girls’ dormitory, funds for construction of a chapel in the compound, funds for extension of boys’ dormitory for more accommodation of children, construction of proper drainage for maintaining proper hygiene, funds to purchase a pick-up van for use in the orphanage and sponsors/donors to educate a child.