A Brief report of the Winter Relief & Medical Camps held at Thanga Ithing & Thanga Karang Island on 28.12.2018

The Ramakrishna Mission, Babupara, Imphal, organised winter relief (blanket distribution) and free medical camps on 28th of December, 2018, the holy tithi puja day of Sri Sri Maa Sarada Devi. For these we selected two remote villages, on Lake Loktak (the largest freshwater lake in North -East India), also known as the only floating lake in the world due to the floating Phumdis (heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil, and organic matters at various stages of decomposition), under Moirang Sub division in Bishnupur District.

The first camp of the day was at Thanga Ithing village, on bank of Loktak, some 50 Kms (1.5 hrs drive) from Imphal, where woolen blankets were distributed to 134 villagers (80 locals and 54 from Loktak Ngaram Mamang village).

The second camp was organised at Thanga Karang, an Island Village, accessible only via waterways. To reach there we drove further 10 kms from Ithing and then had to shift, along with the relief materials, to a ferry boat and sail for another half an hour to reach the secluded Island. Also, a team of 3 doctors, 7 Para Medical staff and 10 volunteers reached the Island beforehand, directly from Imphal, with the necessary medicines, etc., to set up the Medical Camp. Here, it was arranged that apart from the Islanders, the villagers residing in Keibul Lamjao National Park (the only floating National Park in the world where the residents live in floating houses made over Phumdis) shall also assemble to receive blankets and to avail of the free medical services offered at our medical camp.

At the Thanga Karang Camp270 blankets were distributed to the beneficiaries and 208 patients received free medical assistance & medicines. These include 130 eye-patients, who were examined by a team of Ophthalmologists from Shija Hospital, Imphal. Several cases of Cataract, Pterygium, Entropion & DCR, were detected among eye patients and were referred for further treatment.

It is to be observed that the residents of this isolated Island have to struggle with nature, throughout all seasons, and on that, occasionally, even the waterways gets fully obstructed, by the floating Phumdis, leaving the poor residents of this place disconnected from the mainland. Fishing being the main occupation of the Islanders, their livelihood greatly depend on the Lake, which is also their home.

Even here also, like our earlier experiences of relief camps, we found the rural people & the beneficiaries very cordial & cooperative. The villagers were happy on receiving the blankets and medical care, as, being located on this remote Island, it is rare for the people of this place that any Non-Government agency reach out to them. The local representatives and others involved also appreciated our systematic & organized way of conducting the camps. Also, we had informed the Superintendent of Police about our relief camps and requested for appropriate security arrangements. He was very cordial in providing two teams, of armed police, to accompany us till our return.

Swami Nareshananda, accompanied with a monastic brother, along with our Managing Committee President, Sri P. Dhanakumar Singh (Retd. IPS), & few other committee members, our Mission Staffs and Volunteers, went to conduct the relief camps. Sri P. Dhanakumar had earlier served as the Superintendent of Police of the district, and thus using his good offices and knowledge about the place, helped greatly in the planning & execution of the camps.

The setting up of the Free medical camp was facilitated by Dr. Kulabidhu Singh with help from Sri Ng. Lokendro Singh and Sri H. Siddharth Singh, who are all ex-students of Ramakrishna Mission Institutions.

Thus, in all, as part of our winter relief services, 500 Woollen Blankets have been distributed by us in Bishnupur & Imphal West districts. The Blankets were provided by the Relief Services Department of the Headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission at Belur Math, Howrah, West Bengal.

We would like to assert that all the service activities of the Ramakrishna Mission are rendered to the beneficiaries, irrespective of caste, creed, race or religion , and in a spirit of worship to ‘Living Gods’ as per the dictum of Swami Vivekananda that, ‘Service to Man is Service to God’.

Please find below some images of the relief camps.

Om! Sri Ramakrishnarpanamastu!