By Ronald Stone Syiem
NONGSTOIN: The Nongstoin Bridge of Hope, a socio-educational centre is rendering yeoman service for poverty-stricken children providing them with food and education and a ‘ladder’ with which they could come out of the hell-hole of illiteracy, ignorance and exploitation.
The centre has been focusing on education especially to the under-privileged students by providing free tuition, free food and other daily essential hygienic items.
The Centre, run and managed by the Kerala-based Believers Church Synod Secretariat, India is housed at Mawiong-Pendengrei village in Nongstoin, West Khasi Hills.
Bridge of Hope is one of the 14 wings across the country, being run and managed by the Believers Church under the aegis of Gospel for Asia.
It is primarily a child care project which ensures a holistic approach for children living in severe penury through value-based teaching and training.
The project focuses on social, physical, educational, emotional and normal aspects of those children enrolled in the centre. The project also aims to facilitate normal physical growth of the children by providing nutrition diets and preventive health care assistance, and inculcation of value-base education and character building training to them. One notable feature of the project is that it aims to train and equip the children through social awareness, health awareness and skill building programme and instilling civic sense in them.
Children between the age group of 5 years and 16 years are being enrolled under this project and the children after attaining the age of 17 are treated as having graduated from the centre and are allowed to move out into the world.
The Nongstoin Bridge of Hope centre started on March 8, 2006 with a total enrolment of 105 children between the age group of 5 years and 16 years (Nursery to Matriculation level) mostly from under-privileged background.
The enrolled children are provided free tuition daily from 2 pm to 6 pm along with free food every day, except on Sundays. They are also provided with school bags and uniforms once a while. Items of daily use like toothbrush, toothpaste, bathing soaps, washing soaps, etc. are provided on a monthly basis. During the winter season special gifts items like goats, piglets etc., are also provided to the parents of these children as an additional income generating activity.
Among one of the major success story of the centre, a student of the centre, Anrisbel Marwein, secured the second division in the SSLC examination 2011 conducted by the Meghalaya Board of Secondary School education (MBOSE).
The centre is currently operating under the guidance of Ms Hatnu Simte as project coordinator along with two social workers namely Santi Dkhar and Bostick Mawsor and three tutors – Sharai Banks, Nancy Lyngkhoi and Shalbi Mery Lyngkhoi. Besides, there are two cooks – Belinda Nongsiej and Ditris Lyngkhoi.
The session begins on January 16 every year and ends on December 21. The centre observes and celebrates important events like Republic Day, Independence Day, Parent’s Day, Cultural Day, Sports Day, Social Awareness Day, Children’s Day, Church Day and Annual Day etc.
Talking to The Shillong Times, Ms Simte informed that Bridge of Hope projects are operational throughout most Asian countries. In Meghalaya there are five project centres namely Nongstoin, Sawlad, Shillong, Umbir in Ri Bhoi district and Haskona and Tura in West Khasi Hills district, she added.