Knitting, sketching, handicrafts — quarantine’s a vacation in this Nagaland village

By Angana Chakrabarti, Yimkumla LongkumeronAug. 04, 2020in Health and Hygiene

Set against a picturesque background of hills and clouds, this quarantine centre comprises 14 bamboo huts, a rainwater harvesting system, and a hearth to make tea.

Tshewulou Thopi (R), who works with a cruise line in South Africa, knits with a returnee from Bengaluru, at Chizami’s ‘Covid-19 creativity hub’ | Yimkumla Longkumer | ThePrint

Chizami Village (Phek): An eco-friendly quarantine centre and regular doses of creativity — the compulsory 14-day home quarantine period for returnees at Nagaland’s Chizami village, located in the densely forested hills of Phek district, has been unlike any other place.

Set against a picturesque background of hills and clouds, this quarantine centre comprises 14 bamboo huts, a rainwater harvesting system, makeshift toilets and washrooms, and a compost pit, all of which was built within a span of two days.

That’s not all, the centre was named ‘Covid-19 creativity hub’, as the returnees here are encouraged to draw, paint and even make handicrafts like bamboo baskets and brooms.

Quarantine rules in Nagaland require people returning from outside to first spend a 14-day stint in institutional quarantine and another two weeks in home quarantine. The Chizami centre, located around 3 km uphill from the main village, was set up to facilitate home quarantine for returning residents.

“The returnees faced many troubles — they travelled all the way back to Nagaland, stayed put in government quarantine facilities, so we thought they must have been going through a lot,” said Wetshete Thopi, an assistant professor at Patkai Christian College (Autonomous) Dimapur and the convenor of the Chizami Covid-19 task force.

Covid-19 creativity hub is a home quarantine centre for returnees in Phek’s Chizami Village | Yimkumla Longkumer | ThePrint

“Some of them must also be suffering from mental pressures as they have lost their jobs. So, we thought, why not create this centre. We also didn’t want to use the word quarantine because the term itself brings a sense of negativity,” Thopi added.

The professor said they also wanted to make the centre eco-friendly. “So we tried to make use of the natural resources that are available, particularly bamboo, as much as possible,” he added.

It took about 200 volunteers from the village to construct the centre, which opened on 25 May. Ten days later, the village received the first batch of returnees. So far, about 24 returnees have come back to the village, of which 22 have been released from the Chizami creativity hub. Two continue to be at the centre. 

Although Nagaland has so far reported 1,693 Covid-19 cases, none has been from Chizami.

First published by The Print on 2 Aug. 2020

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