A Camillian touch in Manipur
Manipur, a breath-takingly beautiful state in the North-Eastern part of India, is now profoundly wounded and its people are painfully divided on ethnic and communal lines. I had an enriching as well as touching experience with the people torn by ethnic violence that broke out in the state a few months back. At the same time, as one of the youngest camillan religious in India, I consider it my great privilege to serve the people of Manipur with CTF (camillian task force). In fact, I was waiting for a call from the coordinator of CTF to work with team to do something for the victims in all possible way I could.
The tension that is going on between the tribes Meiteis and Kukis is affecting both the tribes physically, psychologically, spiritually, socially and financially. We were able to concentrate on physical, mental and financial aspects of the affected people. The ethnic violence causes the people to leave their belongings and move away from their own villages, and so, most of the people are finding refuge in the camps. There is no hope of returning to their homes (most of them were burnt into ashes). Many of them lost their dear ones, job, all what they had for living. Children lost their schooling and thus their future. People live in fear. Peace has no place there. Both the tribes are trying to protect their own people with arms, and it results in continuous violence and retaliations.
CTF Manipur mission is being coordinated by Snehadan Hospital Bangalore, Arch Diocese of Imphal and Feeds Educational Trust at Kangpoki.
Our team consisted of Fr. Siby Kaitharan, Fr. Jomin Vempenickal with nine women religious including doctors and nurses. Residing in the district of Kongopi we visited the most affected villages and camps to distribute medicines with the consultation of the doctors. We could reach out to more than 3000 affected people. Though I am not a medical expert, my helping hand was a support for my team members and could make their job easier.
People’s living style, their food habits and culture, our long and continuous travel to the interior villages were hard for me, but I could take these experiences in a missionary spirit. I forgot the word ‘tired’, instead, I was largely inspired by the spirit of the entire team in caring the suffering people with compassion. It was an opportunity for me to be a real Camillian and to exercise my charism of mercy towards the suffering. It was also an opportunity for me to learn about disaster management. I learnt how to work in a team. I realised that in order to work in such a context I need to come out of my comfort zones and living ‘standards’, and be down to the earth to understand and to embrace the poor and the suffering.
Fr. Abin Kettupurackel, MI