03-07-2017, Imphal: A unique and one of its first kinds workshop in Manipur, ‘Healing to Empowerment- A 3-Day Residential Workshop For Women Affected by Conflict in Manipur’, was held from 30 June to 2 July at DSSS, Mantripukhri, organised by Women and Youth For Peace and Development (WYPD) in association with Manipur Voluntary Health Association (MVHA). This workshop is part of the year-long project called ‘ Healing to Empowerment: Story of the Manipuri Women’ which won the Alumni Innovation Engagement Fund 2016, an initiative by U.S. Department of State. The main objective of the project is to provide a ‘holistic approach to empowerment to widows and mothers traumatised due to the conflict, through proper psycho- social intervention and sustainable economic empowerment, not just by giving them mere skills but by helping them become well rounded leaders, who can lead their own enterprises, and empower more women.’ The project started with psycho social therapy in August 2016 and then gradually proceeds towards skill and leadership training.
The organiser of the event and founder of WYPD, Monika Khangembam said,”Women in conflict zones are deprived of basic mental health care, economic security, and get busy meeting basic needs of life and feeding their children, forget about participating in peace interventions or any decision making roles. We want to create an ecosystem where not only these women explore their skills but also mentor them to be leaders and run sustainable enterprises. This is a special group which needs clinical and psycho-social therapy and then proceed to economic empowerment. We want increase their coping capacity and resilience.”
The 3-Day residential workshop introduced an innovative module by having various speakers, experts from various fields, and included theatre to help them deal with their trauma, providing an all round approach. The workshop had psycho-social therapy by clinical psychologist Pampak Khumukcham, sessions on Participatory Theatre by Victor Thoudam, Artist Director at Akhoka, Journey to Meditation by Chaoba Thiyam, movie screening of Meena Longjam award winning documentary, Autodriver, on women empowerment, talk by human rights activist Babloo Loitongbam on ‘the present situation of the victim families and the way forward’, Dr K Shantibala, Associate Professor and HOD, JNIMS, on ‘How Can Women Affected by Conflict Take Care of Their Mental Health’, Keisam Pradipkumar child rights activist and member MCPCR, on ‘Educational and Protection Rights of Children and Emerging Specific Needs in Conflict Areas’ and Chinglemba Ngathem, adundance coach, took a session on motivation. The second half of the workshop saw local entrepreneurs who started from scratch and talked about ‘how we can capitalise on our local produce and skills without having to depend on government jobs or resources from outside the state. Some of the notable speakers were Hanjabam Shubra Devi of Meira Foods, Khumbongmayum Dhanachandra of Romi Bag Industries, Khumujam Jina of Mangal Soaps, Dayanidhi Huidrom of Intellisome Consulting, and Moirangthem Muktamani of Mukta Shoes Industry.
One of the participants, Echan, whose husband was killed in an alleged fake encounter and a cancer survivor said, “I thought there was nothing more to life after I lost my husband and then diagnosed with cancer. I had never imagined I would experience something like this in life, meeting so many inspiring speakers, doing theatre, meeting so many people and making new friends. This has opened a new door for me. Now I want to live.”