East Himalaya

Monday, November 12, 2012

Call of the Hoolock Gibbon, 10.11.12...Foundation Day

Ramchandra Chakma, a small boy of 02 years of age played in the Hoolock Gibbon habitat of the dense forested hills of Chittagong. Khatuli Village, Kalamanji at Rangamati was his house, which has almost wiped off his memory at this age of 72. He had to migrate as a young family man, leading his entire locality to the world unknown. Today he lives in 8th mile village at M’pen-2 in Namdapha Tiger Reserve with his dream, the Namdapha Nalanda Nature School. He still feels lucky to wake up with the call of the Hoolock Gibbons. 10th of November, 2012 is the 4th Foundation Day of the school. Before this, a small village shed called school was regularly washed away by the Noa Dihing floods. 

10th of November, 2008, Stefan Loose and Renate Loose, travel writers from Germany, known for their love for Asia, along with the then Field Director of Namdapha Tiger Reserve, Yogesh laid the Foundation stone of Ramchandra’s dream. A school on stilts was the dream of the village with 104 Chakma family houses, sandwiched between the flood waters of Noa Dihing and the dense forests of Namdapha, who managed to survive, because several years back, a good Singpho Chief helped them to settle down in their backyard forests, today known as Namdapha. The local people also heard about this chief from a English tourist to Namdapha, who highlighted that the kindhearted Chief has been mentioned in World War stories from the diaries of the soldiers who managed to flee Burma (then occupied by the Japanese forces) through Vijaynagar and camped in the present ‘Firm Base’ in Namdapha forests.

Today, when roots divide, religions divide, politics divide and above all borders divide, the Namdapha Nalanda Nature School represents compassion and peace, a feeling which is needed to keep this world together. This is a region of Dihing-Patkai in Northeast India, which saw regular land based human movement between the Malayan Peninsula, Yunan region and Tibet for centuries unknown. This is a region, where the main human religion is that of Biodivinity, where the humans respected the original inhabitants in this land of the Hoolock Gibbon, Elephant and Tiger, and lived in harmony. The school has been set up to nurture this culture.

On this occasion of the 4th Foundation Day, the representatives of Help Tourism and SEACOW got together with the students, teachers and the school committee members. After an aggressive flood this year, the rice in the fields looked forward to one of the best harvest (once a year). The local Government has shown some indications of upgrading this school into a primary school. With all this joy, the villagers have decided to bring back their folk dances and songs, which they have forgotten in their race of survival for the last 02 generations. It was decided that every year from 2013, this Foundation Day (10th November) will be celebrated as the ‘International Festival of Compassion and Peace’.
Today there are 48 Boys and 49 Girls as students, 03 male Teachers and we are still looking forward to have a lady teacher.
The hand pump tubewell water facility has been working well and being good drinking water, the people of the adjoining areas use the same.
The toilet needs to be upgraded as of now as the water flooding this monsoon has put them in bad condition, but are still usable as the Indian Squat Toilet is still working well.
The school committee has agreed to give 01 or 02 classrooms for nighthalt of visitors coming for nature study and community help. Also the protected campus may be used as a camping ground. The collected revenue will be used for upgrading the schooling facility.