The North East Network (NEN), Nagaland, which is a partner organisation of the North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS), inaugurated a Bamboo School onWorld Youth Skills Day — July 1, 2019 — at Phek community. The project is part of NESFAS’ initiative under the project “No One Shall Be Left Behind Initiative”, funded by the Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) Limited.
A web of passion and dedication of 17 youths, under the guidance of NEN field co-ordinator (FC) Tuku Venuh, who are part of the school has enabled them to actively work on bamboo crafts. There has also been a surge in the ability to sell some of their products during the village Church sales day and in the Phek town weekly market.
Venuh said, “In today’s world, people tend to run after modern activities and in the process, they lose touch of traditional practice. Looking at the present situation, this project comes with the idea of bridging the gap between the old techniques and practices with the modern day lifestyles.” She added, “Reviving the traditional practices where one can earn their livelihood instead of being consistently dependent or being unemployed.”
The bamboo school group in collaboration with the Phek Village Council organized a two-day bamboo workshop on January 16 and 17 this year. Few community elders also demonstrated the art of making Bamboo baskets-from splitting to making.
From January 28-31, 2020, two of the school’s members were selected to attend a four-day workshop organised by NEN to create bamboo products at Phughi community. A local bamboo artisan and entrepreneur taught the members to create mobile stands, soap cases, bamboo vases, hot pot holders, trays and clips.
After the workshop, the bamboo group was provided with several hand tools which could be used to help them with their craft. After that, the group decided to start a small craft centre at their community where they can make several bamboo products and at the same time, use the centre to display their works to the community people.
NEN FC Venuh donated a small piece of land to be used to construct the centre after she saw the active participation of the members. On the other hand, bamboo and timber for the craft centre was donated by the members and well-wishers. “Organising these kind of activities is an eye opener for the communities and making them realized the importance of traditional knowledge and how we are in line to buried all the traditional skill knowledge completely in no time,” she said.
The construction for the center began in February this year and was completed in July. The on-going setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic led to the delay of the center’s inauguration. Nonetheless, this did not deter the team from commencing several activities on July 1, 2020. The members also engaged themselves in a nutrition garden at the centre. The team also constructed a nursery where they can grow fruit trees and other indigenous plants using the Narco Doco method.
The bamboo youth group celebrated the World Youth Skills Day on July 1, 2020 along with 24 other participants with the permission of the community leaders. There were 20 youths who participated in the crafts competition — Bamboo craft and knitting competition.
While expressing his gratitude, Chisato Vero, a member of the bamboo school, said, “Before we joined the group, we were not aware about the importance of bamboo crafts and never gave importance to such activities, until we joined the group we understood the importance of bamboo crafts.” He added, “Besides this, we also learnt about the importance of nutrition (consumption of at least five food groups a day) and how to maintain proper hygiene.”
The community leaders also appreciated the efforts of the bamboo youth group and acknowledged the efforts of NEN for providing a platform for the community youths to develop their skills through skill-building training.
On the other hand, FC Venuh lauded NEN and NESFAS’ help and said, “I would like to thank these two organisation for opening a door for us and providing every support and bringing us this far. We shall continue with our activities until we achieve our goals.”