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Dimapur, July 7: A swarm of words has escaped the confines of the dusty dictionaries and become the buzzwords of the new normal defined by the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic. Lockdown, quarantine, negativity, and then some more. The resultant chaotic din that rents the air in Nagaland, a state usually unperturbed by anxieties prowling beyond its borders, is though punctuated with words like creativity and positivity giving hope in such unusual times.
Amidst the pandemonium a few sweet notes like those handwritten by returnees housed in the Dimapur Government College quarantine centre, and ingenious initiatives like the Covid-19 Creativity Hub at Chizami are making the much needed difference.
Chizami village nestled in the upper reaches of Phek district is not new to making headlines for the right reasons. This time around, the village has come out to welcome back the sons and daughters of its soil with paint brushes, pens and papers instead of stigma and hostility. The Covid-19 Task Force of Chizami village overseeing the mandatory quarantine of returnees to Chizami has established what it calls the Covid-19 Creativity Hub. The hub houses the returnees hailing from Chizami town and village for 14 days after completing their 14-day quarantine in government facilities.
In the construction of the huts to house the returnees, the Chizami village has followed what one of the residents of the village say are principles of “care for people and care for the earth.” The huts are constructed of just bamboo, and no plastic has been used. Not even plastic bottles or plastics food containers are allowed in the centre. Food for the inmates is packed in ‘tekruyenyi’ (a green leaf). The only usage of plastic can be seen in the bathroom for segregation of biodegradable and non-bio-degradable wastes. Each hut is connected with a rain water harvesting facility.
Wetshete Thopi, convener of the Covid-19 Task Force Chizami, informs that the inmates are provided with kits containing articles like diary/notebook, drawing book, poster, pencil, colors and brush so that they can make use of their time writing stories, poems, sketch and paint as they spend time at the centre.
“As the name suggests, we wanted this facility to be a place for creativity, positivity and productivity and not a place to be abhorred or looked at with disdain. We wanted our returnees to stay positive and make the best use of their 14 days stay at the facility, exploring their creative talents and abilities to create and make positive stuffs so as to spread positivity in the midst of the global gloom that has surrounded us all,” said a note issued by the convener.
According to Thopi, it was during a discussion while giving final touches to the facility arranged by the village community that this idea was born. “We got into a casual discussion of the current global pandemic and the kind of negativity that has engulfed everyone of us. Stigmatization, discrimination and the spoken as well as unspoken fear of the returnees by the local folks (this, despite the fact that they are our very own) has been the trend across the state and beyond and we wondered what must be going through the minds of our returnees.” They were apprehensive that months of lockdown and isolated survival at quarantine centres would take a toll on the mental health of the returnees. So the first thing the team did was name the facility as Chizami Covid-19 Creativity Hub instead of Covid-19 quarantine centre with the objective of mitigating the negativity surrounding the quarantine facilities.
The village task force tied up with the North East Network (NEN) which provided the creativity kits for the inmates. The works that the returnees create and leave behind will be collected and published by the NEN at a later time.
“Some of our returnees have successfully completed their stay and has created positive impacts in their own way during their stay at the facility and we are very thankful for that. Let’s continue to spread positivity, not negativity and rumours,” Thopi surmises.
“Creativity keeps one engaged and boosts confidence and mental health. Art also alleviates anxiety and stress. As an artist, I really appreciate the people of Chizami for this Creativity Hub initiative,” said Cynthia Kolakhe when asked about her views on the Chizami facility.
“We are dealing with the unpredictability and suddenness of this disruption (Covid-19 pandemic), and the only way to emerge sane on the other side of this dark tunnel is through such positive interventions and empathy,” she added. (Page News Service)