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| Last Updated:01/06/2017

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Amid wilderness, hope blooms from orchid for villagers

 Amid wilderness, hope blooms from orchid for villagers


Somewhere in the stretch of wilderness that has come to represent what has been roughly thrown around in the newspapers as the Indo-Myanmar border, resides an orchidarium scooped right out of the old mountains that stands guard along the frontier. It is a region far from the economic prospects that urban centers usually offer. But amid the hard terrain and harder life for this village at the Indo-Myanmar border, an unlikely hero has sprout forth to offer hope.


The curators of this orchidarium, where only wild orchids are grown, are a group of 40 students who have built the orchidarium inside their village school with bamboos. Those students, for that matter the entire village, have been at the extreme end of isolation for all their lives. For them the isolation is not merely in terms of geography – even in the wider consciousness of the Naga public as well as the government, their existence simply does not feature.


The village, Choklangan, is 48 km away from Noklak town in Tuensang. It is one of the last Naga villages, located on this side of the Indo-Myanmar border. A 9-hour trek from Choklangan into the jungles leads to the first village inside Myanmar territory. There is no cellular connectivity at all in the village, and on most occasions the villagers go without power supply for weeks flat.


The roads, built on steep mountains, are un-pliable on rainy days and even on better days the road conditions mean that the 48 km journey between Choklangan and Noklak takes at least 4 to 5 hours. Sometimes people are compelled to return midway when landslides or other disasters cut the roads off.


There was an incident of a seriously sick villager taking almost 24 hours to reach Noklak for treatment which, according to Benglang, is just the tip of an iceberg of the consequences of bad road condition. It is in the midst of such grim circumstances that the children have installed a sanctuary of wild orchids inside the village.


It all started in 2015 after the arrival of Satem Longchar, a wildlife scholar, at the village for her research works. During her stay in the village, with the help of the head teacher Benglang, an eco-club was formed. It was named “Khelia”, after the mountain range that straddles the village.


This was chosen considering the rich natural flora and fauna inhabitant in that mountain range, with an aim to preserve them besides doing encouraging activities in and around the village according to Benglang. Accordingly the club has its motto: Stewards of Green Environment.


On latest count, the club has 40 registered members that include teachers from the school as well. Benglang, as the head teacher of the school, is in charge of the club. One of the first activities of the students was the installation of the orchidarium.

At least 12 different species of wild orchids are being grown at the orchidarium now. According to Longchar, those wild orchids have been collected only from the village’s periphery. They haven’t even ventured into the jungle to collect the wild orchids.


The children are not sent into the jungle for collection of wild orchids because they are still kids. The club has members as young as students of class IV. Besides the orchidarium, the children also engage in cleaning the village surrounds regularly.


The club conducts cleanliness drive in and around the village and thereafter place waste-bin made out of bamboo with the help of village elders and leaders, disseminating the importance of cleanliness.


The club plans to set up a plant nursery and a park in the village starting next year after selecting a strategic location. Last year, the club received a camera and National green Corps t-shirts from a person who doesn’t wish to be named. They have also received a grant of Rs. 2500/- from a concerned authority in the month of June 2016.


Choklangan is a village that depicts a typical traditional Naga village. Yet the people of this village are so hospitable and hard working. They are experts in handicrafts and basket weaving. More than anything, perhaps, they have shown how things of exquisite beauty can be created out of the rough edges that jab at us.


Source: EMN, July 2016.