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Of children and dreams
(Story: Ketho Sakhrie)  :  Jan/07/2018 07:21:PM
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(Not all of us can do great things. But, we can do small things with great love.  Mother Teresa)

With eighty four people residing at the Kohima Orphanage and Destitute Home (KODH) presently, the place is abuzz with activity.With Christmas just around the corner, they were working on their decorations. The white Christmas trees, which is now a usual sight during the Christmas seasons by the National Highways were being set up as I went there. The children looked excited as they lend their hands in the Christmas decorations. A boy maybe around eight years old fiddled with the electric wires as his elder brothers worked on the Christmas lights on the trees. He smiled pleasantly as I came towards him. 
Ever since its inception in 1973 by Zaputou-üAngami, the Orphanage has looked after a staggering number of more than 700 children, who are now well settled in life. People who are now, army men, doctors, teachers, government officials and of course, fathers and mothers. KODH is presently run by Neibanuo Angami, who is also among India’s 100 Women’s Achievers. 
Children of all ages and sizes, flushed me happy faces as they passed by me. They all spoke tenyidie, something which impressed me. Some bigger boys were working on a huge Christmas star, their enthusiasm contagious as their friends too watched their progress with great delight. Some girls were washing their clothes, another batch of boys were playing, some walked around leisurely while some looked at me curiously from their balconies. The place itself is its own universe with different worlds existing as one. 
It was then, that I spotted her.  
She stood by the water tank watching her sisters washing their clothes. I beckoned her. She looked at me and flushed a shy face. It took some prodding from her elder sisters to come to me. She had a round face set with two dark brilliant eyes. She wore a red jacket with a rather huge watch on her tiny wrist. 
“A mickey mouse watch huh!”  I said, trying to ease her discomfort. 
“Yes!” she said, obviously amused by my observation. 
I asked her name. 
Akum is nine years. She told me she wishes to become an artist when she grows up. I spent some time with her and then she went back to her sisters. Her look of innocence is still fresh on my mind as I pen this down. 
I walked up to the hill, where I noticed some boys playing cricket. A boy came running towards me.  I asked his name. “Jeni”, he said, a broad smile across his face. He wore a blue cap and tossed back the ball at his friends. 
“Can you spare me a minute? Maybe, we can sit down there?” I asked, motioning to a freshly painted bamboo bench below their playground. 
We sat down on the bench and a cool breeze swept past us. 
“So did you guys paint this?” I asked, trying to start a conversation.
“Yes”, He said with pride.
In the course of our conversation, Jeni tells me he wants to be a Scientist when he grows up. 
“Scientist? What will you do?” I asked. 
He suddenly became reflective. I watched him as he looked at the horizon in front of us and after a moment replied, “Well, I will go and check out the galaxies.” 
I might add, he looked as if, he was pleased with his own answer. 
The sound of the bat as it hit the ball made him look back to his friends. 
He tells me he also likes cricket a lot. 
“Thank you. You can go and join your friends.” I said. 
He cast me a cheerful smile and then ran back to his friends. 
From where I sat, I could see Kohima, beautiful and distant. The evening sun was about to set in the horizon and the sky was covered in a reddish glow. Vehicles continued to pass through the Orphanage as everyone continued with their own lives. Away from the traffic and the hustle and bustle of life in the towns, this little hillock had become a heaven where these children had found a family. 
Christopher, a cheerful boy came towards me. He was dressed in a blue t-shirt with a half pant. He sported a recent haircut with dark eyes that spells his innocence. He is nine years old. He told me, he wishes to become a pilot when he grows up. He was kind enough to explain to me that, a pilot has many opportunities to ‘help’ people and that he wants to ‘help’ people. He is also excited about Christmas as he gets to eat fish. He recalled to me that he loves particularly the visits of the Patkai Christian College as they come and pray for them. 
Alex was another boy, rather shy and contemplative. As we talk, he had his eyes mostly fixed on the ground. When I asked him what he wishes to become; he tells me, without a moment’s hesitation that he wants to become an Engineer. 
Peter and Pete were ages eleven and seven. As we talked, they told me they were looking ahead for the Christmas festivities. “People come and teach us songs and dances” they said, their faces suddenly bright. “What do you wish to be, when you grow up?” I asked. 
“Army” they both chorused. 
Dreams of children are powerful.Marcus Aurelius said, “A man’s worth is no greater than his ambitions.” Perhaps only if we truly understand the importance of ambitions in a child, we would began to see them in a different light and begin to encourage them in pursuit of their dreams. All these children have dreams of their own- as varied and colorful as the children themselves.Rabindranath Tagore’s quote is very apt, “Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.” 
KODH is a place where these children’s dreams are molded and shaped and where they get the wings. Most of the children are between the ages of ten to thirteen, a period where proper guidance is the most crucial. Churches, various organizations and individuals frequently drops in to the Orphanage, they are, the result of the Orphanage, as we see today. 
If we can invest in these children dreams, we would see a better tomorrow. In that hillock, where these children call, ‘their home’, I saw potentials, I saw a future. A future of army men, engineers, artists and of course, our very own scientists-exploring galaxies.  

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