Women engaged in training for different vocations at Priscilla Centre. The Centre is operational in five North Eastern states including Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Assam. (Photo Courtesy: Priscilla Centre)
Morung Express News
Dimapur | November 24
Witnessing the teeming needs of the time to uplift women from social exclusion and related struggles, Lucy Engjadim founded the Priscilla Centre, a non-profit organisation to help women become self-reliant, in May 4, 1997,
The noble journey started from a small church vestry with a few woman and little money but with a compassionate heart to reach out to needy women. Today, Priscilla Centre is operational in five North Eastern states of India: Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Assam. It has extended its partnership to more than 18 communities.
The centre provides livelihood training in skills such as tailoring, weaving, food processing, handicraft, baking etc and facilitates to engage in income generation activities.
With the theme ‘Be led and lead,’ Priscilla Centre “helps women to bring a change in their lives facilitating a shift from social exclusion, hopelessness, despair and low self-worth to being self-sufficient, skilled and confident women making informed choices in their life.”
For G. Kungreiliu, it has been a long journey, from studying masters in sociology to working in a travel agency to getting engaged with leprosy patients providing rehabilitation and training and now heading Priscilla Centre as the Director.
Kungreiliu recalled how the centre began in 1997 with five machines and ten trainees. After two years, the founder did an evaluation of the women trained there and found that they were keeping the machines without using it due to lack of customers or capacity to sell the finished products.
The following year saw an outbreak of drug abuse, HIV epidemic, alcoholics and sex workers in some NE regions. Kungreiliu says that Priscilla Centre did assessment on the reasons behind these problems which were leading to “broken homes, orphans and destitute, school drop-outs and more.”
It identified “poverty due to limited income generation” as one of the main reasons and therefore, as a preventive measure, Priscilla Centre set up a Self Sustainable Income Generating Activities Project (SIGAP) in all its project centres where the training graduates engage in production work. These items are then sold at the Priscilla Centre outlet in Guwahati and to different parts of the region through volunteers and friends.
“We came across widows who were as young as 22 years and have gone through so many struggles. We started to train the widows and encouraged them to reach out to more people thus building up a community,” Kungreiliu said.
‘Encourage, Equip & Assist’
Kungreiliu who has experience of over 15 years with the centre, shares that Priscilla Centre evolved with the objective to reach out to the marginalized and downtrodden, especially women, and empower them through vocational trainings while promoting the traditional handlooms and handicrafts products from the NE.
Kungreiliu says that Priscilla Centre also believes in “resource sharing—to partner with community groups in addressing social issues”. They motivate local communities through contact with local Church, institutions and organizations.
One of the objectives is “to empower local communities and Churches to identify and engage with vulnerable women and families and to enable them to create a culture and environment in which all can contribute and thrive.”
An initiative of Priscilla Centre, the Advance Leadership Training and Development Course (ALTDC) was incepted in 2006 to mentor the graduates for sustainable earning. With a focus on quality, ALTDC is a three years earning opportunity cum quality enhancement programme for a chosen few, especially school dropout girls from poor and destitute backgrounds. Around 64 young girls have been trained. Almost fifty percent of them are self-employed and about twenty percent are being employed by Priscilla Centre and its partners.
Hope* from Nagaland shares she dreamt of becoming a nurse to help her family and community but it got shattered due to an eye ailment. Knowing the economic status of her family, she said, “This is it! I will die just becoming nothing.”
She was introduced to Dorcas Training Centre, Khaibung in 2008 which changed her life. The following year she was called to join Priscilla Centre for the ALTDC and in 2012, Hope was appointed as the warden of ALTDC. With the support of the Centre, she also completed 6 months Mega Discipleship training School under ‘Youth With a Mission,’ Siliguri.
Sheltered to Revive
Rose* and her younger siblings were hit by misery of orphanhood and homelessness when she turned 20 years of age. This unheard life story testifies “revival” in its real sense as she survived to see a significantly different phase of life after decades of struggle.
After Rose lost her parents, she went on to another village to stay with her aunt while her siblings were sent to orphanages. Her hope to have a family of her own failed twice and she became homeless. Eventually, she succumbed to substance abused, got engaged in the flesh trade and contracted HIV.
In 2013, she began to halt at Priscilla Night Shelter but continued her trade. The next year she was rescued in her worst health, at the point of death. With restored health, new heart and mind she was managed to leave behind her past. Since then, she has given those who have seen her past a reason to be amazed.
In 2017 she got trained in tailoring, with an enthusiasm, creativity and stewardship in stitching items. At present, she stays in a transitional home and joins the production unit of the Centre. When people said to her that her life is a miracle, she remarked, “Without those dark experiences in life I would not know that life can be this beautiful.”
The Director of Priscilla Centre, Kungreiliu says that “The unpredictable nature of human beings is the biggest challenge.”
“People become hopeless and give up but after a period of years they become changed persons. They influence their family and peers and motivate them to become better. Therefore, our attempt is to influence the life of others we are in touch through our journey of learning with God's strength,” she added.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.