‘Public must also rise to the occasion and look after our children returnees’
Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | June 2
“We love and care about each one of you. This lunch is lovingly prepared by the mothers. May God protect and keep you all safe.” This was the message clipped to every food pack that the Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA) prepared for an overwhelming number of 1320 people—400 at the Meriema Quarantine Centre and 920 inclusive of Goa returnees at K Badze Quarantine Centre on Monday (June 1).
By 4:00 am on Monday morning, few village women had gathered to start the fire and begin the process of cooking rice and other food items. The cooking of 300 kg of rice was supervised by 90 year old, Alhouu Dzuvichu, a founding member of NMA along with her team of professional rice cooking mothers comprising of Catholic women from Kohima village.
Few days prior to that, the Naga Mothers’ Association spent hours clipping the cards containing the personal message to every food pack, going the extra mile to show their love for the returnees. With food solely prepared by the mothers, it was packed by about a team of volunteers comprising of research scholars, few university students, human rights lawyers and the NMA.
At the time of filing this story, the team had just finished washing pots used, returning all the fire places made of huge iron rods, and the number of tables laid out for the packing, which was done in five rooms maintaining social distancing wherein a Rotarian had also contributed 50 masks and gloves for the volunteers.
Message clipped to every food pack that the Naga Mothers’ Association prepares. (Morung Photo)
“As a mother, we wanted to show our love to our children. We don’t have any income, but we just collected from among ourselves, to provide at least one meal for them,” Abeiu Meru, President of NMA told The Morung Express. “We are happy that we could do this. It’s not an easy job for those cooking at the quarantine centres and I would like to appeal to the children in these centres to bear with the food timings, and be thankful”, she expressed.
Advisor to NMA, Dr Rosemary Dzuvichu felt that “it is just a small gesture from us but we are happy” while putting across that “after seeing the Churches responding and everyone coming forward, we feel now it is our turn to do something.” “Basically, it’s just a message to all these children in the quarantine centres that we are there for them, and that all of us are worried for them,” she added.
With all these stories of neglect and complaints, she pointed out that in this kind of crisis everyone is expecting so much from the government, but however emphasized that “it is the duty of everyone, wherever we live.” “Even returnees will have to understand that the people preparing food there cannot give on time,” she reasoned.
For the food preparation, the NMA were initially told that the number was 800 and then 1200 with more returnees, and finally 1320— which the organisation gladly took up as a challenge even with numbers increasing in the last minute. The entire process was certainly not an easy task coupled with logistics problem wherein Dzuvichu opined that the distances in Kohima is as such that whichever church or organisation is cooking, it is difficult unless there is a huge community kitchen in the vicinity of the centres.
Two trucks were also hired by the NMA to deliver the food, and were led by the NMA President and Advisor to make sure that they don’t face problem on the way. On the menu were rice, fish curry, lemon and cucumber, boiled egg and vegetable fry. “We are really grateful to all those who donated and those who came forward- the volunteers, without whom, we couldn’t have done it,” she profoundly expressed.
Dzuvichu further conveyed that, “let the government do its job and we, the public citizens must also rise to the occasion and look after our children returnees, wherever they may be coming from, whatever their tribe or village. It is time to put aside all ill will and ensure we all join forces and help out in whatever way we can. We appeal to all our children returning from cities to remember that you are back home in your land, respect frontline workers working day and night, spend your Quarantine days with discipline and prayers. We pray that God sees each one of you safely back to your homes and your loved ones. Stay strong, stay safe!”