Eliezer home in Dimapur, a remote area of Nagaland has become a safe haven for children with toxic-troubled childhood. Tinu Meren Ozukum and Aosenla Imchen, a God-fearing couple, have been nothing less than saviours for these children in restoring normalcy to their otherwise marred lives.
The Home of Hope -Eliezer Home
It’s 5 AM in the morning. The sun rises graciously on the beautiful terrain of Dimapur. The biggest city of Nagaland basks in its light, flaunting its cascading waterfalls and lush green slopes. You could easily feel a distant chirp of birds sonically blending with the chatter of 11 little children at the “Eliezer Children Home”. All the commotion of wash-up, breakfast would soon fade as they leave for school in about two hours. Things get slower for a while, or maybe only until the afternoon when this pack of kids gets back to their home. Unlike what is expected of kids, you would see them wash their own tiffins post-lunch. Later they would tidy their shoes and retire for a short nap before they go spilling into the playground.
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Shortly after sunset, they part for their tuition and studies. Finally, all assemble for a dine together followed by a fellowship prayer. After which Tinu Meren Ozukum and Aosenla Imchen kiss these little ones goodnight. Tinu and Aosenla, a young Naga couple are raising these children like their very own, in their own house, with their very own resources. If in case you still have the slightest doubt: Two out of the 11 are their biological children.
Inheriting goodness from Parents
The virtue was inherited by the couple from Aosenla’s parents, who started the School of Social Work in the late 90s. The School used to teach underprivileged children from tribal communities. However, a majority of these children had seen a lot of mental, emotional and physical abuse. Since Aosenla’s parents were already socially inclined and running the school, the villagers approached them to start children home for these children from traumatic backgrounds. The children home soon took shape. Meanwhile, Aosenla and her husband Tinu, who were both professors of Theology in Vishakhapatnam wanted to do a PhD in Theology and hence decided to come back to their homeland in Nagaland.
When the couple moved back to Nagaland, they visited the children home run by Aosenla’s parents. The interaction with the kids left them utterly touched. Something struck them. When they came back home to their parents that day, they had a conversation with them on how do they plan to continue the children home. During the conversation, Aosenla’s parents confessed that they were getting old and their health wouldn’t allow them to continue the children home with equal zeal. That was the day when the Tinu and Aosenla, the young couple decided to carry the baton and take charge of the children home.
Parenting a house full of innocent souls with traumatic backgrounds
When the couple took charge, Eliezer home already had 6 children. In the following years, 3 more children came home. And now the couple is parents to 11 beautiful kids with 2 biological children of their own. Most of the kids came from the Ao, Chang, and Phom tribes of Nagaland.
Most of them experienced a troublesome childhood that would still freeze them as a trance of a nightmare. One of the little girls who came into Eliezer Home lost her father when she was 3 years old. Abandoned by her biological mother and she was left alone with her ailing grandmother. The missionary of the tribe brought her in at the Eliezer Home. She was in deep trauma when she was first brought over here. Later Aosenla also discovered that that girl had deep scars on her back. Aosenla spent hours and hours with their newly welcomed daughter to listen to her plight and take her out of the ordeal.
Another boy who came in when he was 3 years old, grew up in an extremely abusive environment. He had a stepmother who would mistreat him, kept him hungry and beat him. A person rescued him and brought to Eliezer home. When he came home he would just sit by the window and look outside. When Tinu used to ask him about what is he looking for outside the window, he would reply that he looking for his father to come and get him. It took extensive care and an abundance of love to take the little boy out of the trauma.
The Good Samaritans keeping the hopes alive
The children home run solely on family savings and support from a few close friends during the initial years. It was later that more people started supporting in money or kind in the form of books, clothing, and food. One such Good Samaritan they recall is Shweta, a kind lady from New Delhi. She visited the children home when during her husband’s recruitment to Dimapur. The plight of the children moved her so much that she started a crowdfunding campaign for the Eliezer Home. The campaign helped raise more than a lakh rupees which helped them enrol the children to better schools for better education.
“These children have suffered a lot and many remain in a state of trauma for a long time, hence they need to be given extra care in the beginning. They are in dire need of love”, says Aosenla. However, the atmosphere within the house is very welcoming. In fact, the children are very excited when a new child comes in. Most of them know that Tinu and Aosenla are not their biological parents. Yet that hasn’t affected their relationship with the couple even a tad bit. It’s one big family.
Raising kids into responsible citizens
The couple believes that sound education is an assured way to make the child a productive citizen. All the children now go to a known private school and also spend their time exploring arts and sports. The Children’s Home now has regular well-wishers who frequently give them resources in kind or cash. Tinu has recently received a scholarship from Germany for a PhD in Theology. The amount has also helped run the errands of the children home. Yet, he has to keep multi-tasking and even shuffling between Germany and Nagaland for the kids.
Amidst all odds and hardships, the couple has internalized the meaning of Eliezer “God is our Helper” in their work. The belief has helped them persevere even in critical situations. “There were times when we didn’t have rice to cook for dinner, but like a miracle, some friends came in to help. We get all the resources whenever they are needed,” concludes Aosenla with a smile.
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