TODAY -

Displaced girls embrace resilience and enterprise
Source: Chronicle News Service / Niranjan Oinam

Imphal, October 03 2023: Resilience is a human virtue often displayed by those who have the courage and mental strength to bounce back, adapt, and recover from challenges, setbacks, or difficult experiences by not only enduring hardships but also growing stronger and thriving in the face of adversity.

Amid the muffled voices of pain, grief, and anger in the wake of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the state, which has completed five months leaving a trail of destruction, five displaced young adult women are showing the symbol of resilience and shining bright as a beacon for other displaced people while delivering the message of hard work and perseverance.

Merina Moirangthem, Bidyalakshmi Heisnam, and Ronia Heisnam from Khumujamba Meitei Leikai, along with Thoibi Oinam and Tanu Khwairakpam from Churachandpur Old Bazar in Churachandpur district, aged between 22 to 24 years, were uprooted from their homes by the violence which broke out on May 3 last.

They found themselves seeking shelter in relief camps, where they have been residing since.

Today, the five are running a food stall just outside their relief camp and making a livelihood even in the face of life's challenges and adversities.

Their journey began at a relief camp in Moirang for over a month before they shifted to the current relief camp at Chingmeirong Upper Primary School on June 20.Driven by their determination to work, they caught the attention of relief camp volunteers, who connected them with Sangai Service, to take up housekeeping jobs.

Over time, they managed to save some earnings and sought assistance from camp volunteers for opening a food stall in front of the relief camp.

Today, they sell a variety of items like fried chicken, momos, chicken soup, pani puri, bora (fritter), and chicken chow, with average daily sales of Rs 7000.Merina, the eldest among them, recounted their flight from home on May 3, seeking refuge in Moirang.

As the relief camp became overcrowded, she briefly stayed with her elder sister in Thangmeiband.

Eventually, she settled in the relief camp at Chingmeirong Upper Primary School, where she joined with the other four.

She narrated their journey from working under Sangai Service to opening the food stall on September 11.All of them dropped out of school either after class 10 or 12, except for Tanu, who is pursuing BA 6th Semester at Standard College, Kongba.

While she is attending her classes in college, the four run the stall, which is located on the eastern side of the Imphal-Dimapur highway.

The stall operates from 3 pm till 8 pm daily.

Merina also highlighted their shared aspiration to expand their small business collectively by saving their profits.

She further informed that Chennai Manipuri Forum donated gas stove, tables, chairs, frying pan and pots among others while volunteers of the relief camp helped them set up the food stall as well as electrification of the stall.

She expressed gratitude to all those, who helped them in their small venture.

These five resilient young women, despite having narrowly escaped death, have found renewed hope through their food stall.

It is a testament to their determination to face life's challenges and rise above adversities.

However, while their story is one of hope and resilience, it represents only a fraction of the tens of thousands of displaced lives, raising crucial questions about the fate of countless others residing in relief camps for five months now with no visible solution in sight.


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