This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Urmila Chanam. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Firebrand Conservationists Of Rainforest Club Tamenglong

More from Urmila Chanam

WhyOnEarth logo mobEditor’s Note: Are you bothered by the drastic changes in our climate, causing extreme weather events and calamities such as the Kerala Floods? #WhyOnEarth aims to take the truth to the people with stories, experiences, opinions and revelations about the climate change reality that you should know, and act on. Have a story to share? Click here and publish.

Youth On A Lesser Trodden Path

Lack of opportunities, absence of major industries, high rate of unemployment among the educated youth, limited employment opportunity in the government sector, corruption and nepotism rampant in Manipur did not dampen the spirit of the youth in Tamenglong.

Ramhiamang Gonmei who holds a master’s degree in Sociology; Mordecai Panmei, a graduate from St. Joseph College of Science and Arts, Bangalore; Gaisui Gonmei; Duanguanglung Kamei; Gaikupou Goimei; Saint Kamei; Andy Gangmei; Dilunang Pame; Siplak Goimei; Gaibung Gangmei; Solomon Gonmei; and Gaidinglung Riamei—are the youth, who with the help and guidance from those who were well established in their chosen fields like Dr. Chambo Gonmei, the Chief Medical Officer of Tamenglong, Nehemiah Panmei, the Director of Tamenglong Bamboo and Cane Project (TAMBAC) and Namlalung Gangmei, MCS, began what is known as Rainforest Club Tamenglong.

The work that began way back in 2011 has gradually picked up momentum whereby the conviction and dedication of nearly seventeen active members has made Rainforest Club Tamenglong one of the most vibrant, promising and effective NGOs working in Tamenglong district and an undisputed model of youth engagement and youth leadership in a state which has battled with the nightmare of drug and substance abuse and high mortality rates among the youth.

Mordecai points out that the inherent drawbacks of districts including Tamenglong, like their geographical isolation, communication bottlenecks and backwardness, need not define the destiny of its youth.

He said, “After I graduated from St. Joseph College in Bangalore, I chose to return to my hometown unlike the majority who sought jobs in metropolitan cities. I knew what our major resources were and how they were increasingly becoming scarce all around the world. We have forests, wildlife, clean air and unpolluted water and their conservation became my career goals.

The young men, who are also close friends, began with protection and raising awareness on Citrus indica, the parent species of the current Tamenglong Orange or Tamenglong mandarin for which the district is famous for. Tamenglong is the largest producer of oranges in Manipur, contributing about 50% of the state’s annual orange production of nearly 10,000 to 11,000 metric tonnes.

Orange Festival is organized every December since the last sixteen years by the district administration and the state government of Manipur in collaboration with multiple local stakeholders, Rainforest Club Tamenglong being one of them, with an aim to increase orange production, maintain or improve the quality of oranges, bring attention to the issues and concerns of orange growers, especially in terms of plant infections and the observed decline in growth, and usher in innovations and new ideas to take orange cultivation and export to the next level.

Rainforest Club Tamenglong has been organising outdoor sub-events during the Orange Festival, creating an experience around nature, mountains, forests, wildlife and exotic locations like Tharon Cave and Barak Waterfall for tourists and participants. The festival serves as a platform for the group to advocate for conservation of forests and wildlife.

These young men have been raising awareness on how migratory birds Amur falcons are responsible for good harvest of oranges, rice, other crops, vegetables and fruits because they feed on insects and termites that are destroying orange trees and other crops. They have been successful in preventing hunting of Amur falcons through their advocacy. Amur falcons reside in Tamenglong for almost a month every year, anytime from late October to November.

Rainforest Club Tamenglong members are currently involved in the All India Tiger Survey since March 2019 under the guidance of the district Forest Department.

Solid waste management and cleaning the town are also one of the core areas of work for this youth group, of which all members are working on voluntary basis, and the organisation is yet to have a funded project which can pay for their services and for their group activities on conservation.

Tamenglong may be one of the most isolated districts in Manipur with poor roads and connectivity challenges being at a distance of 158 km from capital Imphal, but noteworthy are its rich biodiversity and forests, the area of forestland being 88% of the total geographical area of Tamenglong as per the Geography Forest Survey of India 2011. Interestingly, people are the biggest resource for their natural affinity to conservation of environment and the mutual understanding and group cohesiveness that thrives in the community. The youth are mentored by village and church elders, and are involved in community and faith-based work from a young age.

The state start-up schemes from the government should pro-actively be on the ‘look out’ for such talented and dedicated youth-led groups and organizations because investing in Rainforest Club Tamenglong will deliver multiple goals in youth leadership, environment and wildlife conservation and agriculture through the community model. The district administration and local MLAs should take the responsibility of ensuring their inclusion in the list of applicants for Manipur Start-up Scheme for the year 2020-21 because if the state cannot give them jobs, it should be able to give them opportunities and support when they create one for themselves.

Till that happens, the members of Rainforest Club Tamenglong keep themselves inspired and goal-oriented from the deep respect and admiration they have earned from their spouses, parents and people in the district.

The writer is Youth Ki Awaaz Awardee for Best Article (Environment) in 2019 and a print and radio journalist reporting on agriculture and community from rural regions in India. 

You must be to comment.

More from Urmila Chanam

Similar Posts

By Ankit

By Ecochirp Foundation

By Prabhat Misra

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below