By Ganmeilu Phaomei
IMPHAL, July 21: Established in the year 1999, Tabitha Children Home- a home for orphans living with HIV/AIDS sits cosily at Raphei Valley, Mantripukhri, Imphal.
Run by a Christian family originally hailing from Longpi (Nungbi) Ukhrul District Chingai Sub Division, the home was first established at Ukhrul Phungreitang and shifted to its present location the same year in 1999.
During a candid conversation with this reporter, Thanshok Kamkra and Tammi Kamkra who runs the home said, “Tabitha Children Home is exclusively for orphans living with HIV/AIDS.
Thanshok said, “The Name Tabitha is a name taken from the Bible verse of Acts”.
At present the Kamkra family has 16 children out of which 12 are orphans living with HIV/AIDS, two of them their own and two other adopted by the family. All the children are aged between 5-18.
Speaking on the education of the children, Thanshok said most of the children are presently studying at Kids School, Dewlahland.
He continued two of the children had cleared their matriculation this year in the second division.
He told this reporter, “Two of the youngsters are really fond of music and dress designing” and expressed his believe that they would someday make the home proud.
The uniqueness that one gets to see in the orphanage is that children staying in the home are treated all the same. The children are not made to feel any difference in their upbringing. The whole family- as Thanshok and Tammi like to call the Home-eat together, play together and share everything.
About the health concerns of the children, he said they are served suitable diets according to their needs.
The Home takes extra care about their diets, he added.
The children are from Rongmei community, Meitei community, Kuki community, Kom community, Tangkhul community and Anal community.
The Home sometimes accommodates widows coming from different districts of the state and has their separate accommodations. They are allowed to stay at the Home as long as they want.
He continued, “The children’s conditions are monitored through regular health check-ups and CD4 count tests”. Among the 12 children, 6 of them are on ART”.
“At present the couple is helped by nine full time volunteer workers. The volunteers had readily accepted to work without any payments but in service to the Lord.”
A Widow living with HIV/AIDS, Naomi acts as the Nursing caretaker, while another young lady Pampam acts as the educational tutor of the children of the Home.
The Home also helps widows mostly from remote areas that could not afford themselves and need help. They are also provided with medical treatment, shelter, food and cloths.
However, all is not well in the Home, there are various challenges to be met on a daily basis. The vulnerability of children’s medical condition calls for a high level of preparedness as any moment could become an emergency.
They have a Bolero and a Van for emergency services.
With the objective of providing to the meagre earnings of the Home, they have also started a flower Nursery inside the campus. They also provide home delivery of the flowers. The proceeds coming in from the sale of the flowers are used in the daily expenditures of the Home.
The Home also provides some of the proceeds from the sale of the flowers to charitable activities of their Church.
However, the Home’s special focus is on nurturing the children’s spirituality, moral and social values.
Extra-curricular activities of the Home during holidays as amusement and entertainment for the children include site-seeing and other sporting activities, learning music, recreation of verses from the Bible, etc.
“The Home is their way of answering to everything that the Lord has provided”, he further said.
“With faith in the one who adopted us, we strive hard to fulfil a mission of loving and caring people”.
“The Home was built a decade ago and the Lord has done great things for the Home. Here is the gist of what we do”.
Thangshok continued “For most people, money comes first before their Ministry” and added, “ however, we at the Home believe that Ministry should come first and followed by money. People work for the money. We work for the Kingdom of God is our philosophy”.
Tabitha Home receives voluntary and monetary support from caring individuals from time to time but no regular funds as of yet. The Home’s income is currently generated through flower sales, piggery, catering services and social works such as household chores and wedding decorations.
The Home provides every kind of assistance from taking care of children and the home to raising funds to run it.
Meanwhile, he also added that the land where the Home stands now doesn’t belong to them, but to a philanthropist of Ukhrul district retd Additional Chief Engineer PHED M Siraphui of Ngainga, Ukhrul district, who is letting them use the land without any rent. They have been staying there since the past thirteen years.
During the renovation of the building, state Chief Secretary DS Poonia had provided some financial help. While a grocery owner from the Imphal Bazar, Azit Bhakliwul has been helping them with rice, dal, oil and sugar every month.
And some big hearted shop owner of Thangal Bazar has also helped them with pencil, books, etc.
The Home has also expressed gratitude to several of its benefactors including child specialist, Dr Nabachandra, Dr Priyokumar (Medicine) and Babina (Diagnosis) and all the benefactors for their uncountable charity offered to them.
Thanshok Kamkra is a conference speaker working with MBC, RNBA and some other churches and also works as an HIV councellor after undergoing two years of training with the World Health Organization. His Wife Tammi Kamkra is a singer by profession.
She is a well-known performer in the All India Radio and DDK. Whatever penny she earns she uses for the maintenance of the Home.