Life Plus- Jorhat
I-CARD (MISING APOSTOLATE)
This is a centre began for Mishing apostolate. The building for this work is just getting ready.
The appointment of Fr. Fr. Kalapurackal Thomas (K.A) to Don Bosco School Jorhat, as assistant headmaster saw the beginning of Mising apostolate, now based in Jorhat. The ministry is a unique venture and the whole activity is solely directed towards the Mising (pronounced Mishing). Young people from within the Mising community are trained in various leadership skills to bring about economic development and social transformation. In 2000, Fr. K.A. Thomas was transferred to Dergaon, exclusively for Mising apostolate. Since 1995, Mising ministry is co-ordinated from Jorhat and a part of Rua Home land has been earmarked for the same.
Misings, once known as ‘Miris’ and mentioned as such in the Constitution of India, are of Mongoloid origin. Originally from North-west China, they came down to Arunachal Pradesh centuries ago and occupied the mountain ranges lying between the Subansiri and the Siang districts of Arunachal Pradesh. Their Folk literature suggests that they migrated down to the plains of Assam in search of a peaceful and better economic life. Their movement to Assam continued for 600 years from the 12th century. Today, Misings, the second largest tribe in Assam, live along the rivers and hill tracts in all the eight districts of upper Assam namely Sonitpur, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Golaghat, Jorhat, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia.
I-CARD (Institution for Cultural and Rural Development) took off in January 1998 from the office of the Assistant Headmaster at Don Bosco High School, Baghchung, Jorhat. First contacts with future collaborators were made, and the initial steps to a constructive relationship with the target community – the Misings – were initiated. With the catchword proMising action, adding life to life, I-CARD has been bringing sustainable development, since 1998, to Misings, through the insights and solutions fitting into their own cultural worldview. The focus on Misings is to present a model for development for other tribes. I-CARD operates through its independent regional bodies, thus promoting a people’s movement. I-CARD operates in 8 districts of Assam (Sonitpur, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Golaghat, Jorhat, Sivsagar, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia), and three of Arunachal Pradesh (East Siang, Lower Dibang Valley and Lohit). The Staff Members includeKarsang Takar (Director, Co-Director, Programme Coordinator, 3 Part Time instructors, Cooks), I-CARD office at Jorhat (Managing Director, 3 Office Assistants, receptionist, Media director cum Office Secretary), Life Plus-Jorhat (Coordinator, cook and farm helpers) ARDA Centre at Dergaon (Farm Manager, Assistant, 2 Poultry assistants), Weaving Centre (2 supervisors), Field Staff (Youth Coordinator, Field Manager, Media representative, 3 Field Coordinators), Probation (2 Field Supervisors). The Director of I-CARD resides at Life Plus, Jorhat. I-CARD has over 2500 volunteers who take the mission forward.
I-CARD is involved in various activities to take forward its goals. Some of them are the following: KARSANG TAKAR: (Leadership Training Centre) to empower school drop outs to take up rural development as I-CARD’s field Volunteers. It is a ten month residential programme for 20 young men and women every year, focusing on personal, social, cultural, spiritual and community development. With their help 160 Mising villages have been initiated to community development. Misinge Aiya:ne: A monthly newspaper in Mising language, since January 1999. It has its own editorial board. The magazine is dedicated to internal transformation of the tribe. proMising Action: A bi-monthly magazine for Misings from January 2004. It has its own editorial board. proMising action takes Misings to the portals of the world with image building and publicity for the tribe as the main focus. NewsCard: Internal Newsletter of I-CARD in Assamese, giving news of the organization’s activities.
Videos: “People of the Flood Plain, the Mising Tribe of Assam” produced by Video Volunteers, USA, in 2005, dealing with external problems faced by Misings. Survey & Research: Both professional and Informal. I-CARD has completed a full length survey of 100 villages in Golaghat, Jorhat, Tinsukia, Lakhimpur and Dhemaji Districts. Other surveys have also been done. Young trainees do a data collection of 40 villages annually. Young Misings: I-CARD organizes Mising youth with a variety of activities, under the banner of Young Misings. There were 80 Young Mising groups as of January 2007. Musub Kebang: The elders’ association founded in 2003, helps move the community, rooted in its socio-cultural practices, and sets up the traditional Murong halls. ARDA ARSANG: A music club in Dergaon, producing songs for social transformation, and with plans to bring out audio cassettes.
Agency for Rural Development Action (ARDA): I-CARD’s version of SHG cluster is ARDA, the ten village circles where the trained youngsters have finished the probation, and where a local committee, comprising of 12 to 15 members, representing the ten villages is constituted. ARDA has nine departments (Agriculture, Livestock, Weaving, Health, Hygiene, Education and literature, Culture, Women and SHG, and Youth). A field staff looks after two departments each. Since 2003, every year I-CARD has adopted 40 Mising villages to begin development activities. The work is begun by I-CARD’s field volunteers. ARDA registered office is in Paglam, Arunachal Pradesh. There were 16 ARDA committees in 2007. Self Help Groups: I-CARD has over 150 SHG spread over 11 districts. Income Generation Project: For rural youth – 20 leaders trained by I-CARD being assisted financially to take up projects of their own.
ARDA Public Schools: One English medium school in each ARDA circle, managed by trained local graduates, with expertise supplied by I-CARD. In April 2007, the first ARDA Public School will be opened in Selek of Majuli. A chain of schools is planned. Student Sponsorship: I-CARD assists poor students to pursue formal and informal schooling. Trainings: I-CARD trains selected youngsters in social welfare activities. Mising Publication Centre: 11 Mising books have been published so far. Journalists’ Meet: Annual training for Misinge Aiyane Reporters.Audiovisual Productions: Home video and audio cassettes of a cultural nature.
Works of Art & Fashion Designing: This encourages use of traditional artefacts and designs in modern ways. Mising Library: The aim is to preserve all publications for research and development. Workshops: Regular training programmes focusing on development. Exposure Trips: To North-east and outside for collaborators to broaden vista. The most recent was with all the staff for a three day live-in volunteer experience at Prem Dan, Mother Theresa Institute for the destitute in Kolkata. Health Care: To fight epidemics and to promote hygiene and better health. ICARD has plans to start a paramedics training centre, providing one health worker for each village of its operation. I-CARD farm: A two bigha experimental model farm to augment income to run the organisation, with poultry, fish and vegetables. Weaving Centre: Housed in ARDA centre at Dergaon there are ten young girls producing Mising handloom for marketing. The centre coordinates weaving for village people under Dergaon ARDA. Handicrafts: I-CARD produces files, photo frames and handicrafts for sale.
Parish, Pastoral work and Evangelization, Village Masses, Village Visits, Animation of Catechists, Youth Groups, Chaplaincy, High School, Boarding for boys.
Don Bosco – Life Plus
P.B. 125, Baghchung
Jorhat– 785 001