As India grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, in Chizami village, located in Nagaland's Phek district, the village council has gone beyond call of duty to transform a quarantine centre into a 'creativity' hub.
Residents of Chizami, along with the Chizami COVID-19 task force, built eco-friendly bamboo huts at the quarantine centre located on a football field of the GM Government High School. At the entrance of the centre hangs a large banner, which reads, "COVID-19 Creativity Hub".
In an effort to fight the COVID-19 blues of those returning to the state, the centre also encourages the inmates to write stories, poems, sketch and paint.
"We are not even calling it a COVID-19 Quarantine Centre, but a Covid-19 Creativity Hub," Wetshete Thopi, an Assistant Professor at Patkai Christian College (Autonomous) Dimapur, who is now the convenor of COVID-19 Task Force in his village, told The Indian Express.
Ever since the lockdown, district-level COVID-19 task forces have been set up in the state to streamline administrative processes in collaboration with the government. According to Thopi, just 10 days before the first batch of returnees arrived in the village, 24 huts were constructed on May 25.
Thopi said that the idea was to encourage them "to keep busy, writing poems, or making any kind of art, while confined within their own huts."
In addition, they also have the option of gardening in little patches outside their huts.
"The point was to create a positive atmosphere in the centre. Months of lockdown and quarantine have taken a toll on mental health, so we thought let's make this quarantine centre a place for creativity, positivity and productivity, as opposed to one which would be abhorred," said Thopi.
The village council has also collaborated with NGO North East Network (NEN) for the initiative, Thopi added.
"We provided them with a relief kit. Along with dry rations like tea leaves and sugar, we included stationery," said Seno Tsuhah of NEN Chizami.
"They are all young, energetic people, most who were working in the hospitality sector. So we told them they could scribble anything they like — a poem or painting," Tsuhah added.
Post quarantine, the inmates can also submit their work to NEN, who will later publish it all in the booklet.
"The natural setting felt like a perfect space to unwind the stress of a wearied returnee," said Dezo Naro, a student who had returned from Shillong, adding that the creativity hub felt like a "home away from home." Also Read: Now 'TikTok Therapy' In Mizoram COVID Care Centre For Asymptomatic Patients