Samaritan Village: A virtual Shangri-La
By Lalita Chettri
SHILLONG: If there is a Shangri-La on earth, it could well be a seemingly nondescript hamlet where disputes and alcohol are taboos, where human values and ethics rule the roost. Welcome to Samaritan Village at Lum-Mynri, Mawser, Ri-Bhoi district, about 50 km away from Shillong city: it's home to the poorest of the poor who live in peace and harmony regardless of the language they speak or the community they belong to.
Any family belonging to the destitute lot can stay in the village as long as it wants to, provided it upholds the rules of the village.
Spread over an area of 40 acres, Samaritan Village houses 25 poor or financially weaker families. They enjoy almost all the basic needs without giving anything in return. Families are allocated free land to build houses and cultivate on. Their children receive free education, besides the facilities of church and prayer hall. Residents of the village will forfeit these services if they fail to strictly follow the rule 'No Alcohol, No Disputes.'
The families residing in Samaritan Village have been allotted a plot of land of 3000 sq feet each. In fact, it is a "cosmopolitan" village where Khasis and Nepalese co-exist, with all of them bonded by a common faith - Christianity.
Niru Magar, a Nepali resident who has been residing in the village for the last two years, says she is happy living a peaceful life there. She is married to a Khasi man. They have three children who speak both Khasi and Nepali fluently.
"We nurture no antagonism against any community. Here, everyone enjoys the same freedom and equal opportunities," another resident K Hujon Sing says.
Inspired by the lifestyle they have had so far, people of the village are cherishing the dream of making it a 'Good Samaritan Village.'
Samaritan Village derives its name from the Bible story of a person from Samaria who believed in helping others. Good Samaritan Trust, which takes care of the village and its residents, hopes to increase the number of families from 25 to 250.
Much of the credit for this noble venture goes to J Kharphuli and his wife R Kurbah of Mawlai. The couple have set up the village under their Good Samaritan Mission. The Mission banks on responsible individuals who wish to make a difference to the lives of underprivileged people by providing them with financial support.
Recently, Mr Kharphuli and Ms Kurbah donated Rs 20 lakh to help improve the living standard of underprivileged people.
It is also at the initiative of the husband-wife duo that Samaritan Village got its first English medium school -- Good Samaritan Lower Primary and Upper Primary School - exclusively for poor students. The school was inaugurated by former Chief Minister DD Lapang on 30 March 2007. Today, the school has 100 students, from nursery to Class VII, and five teachers. (Source: The Shillong Times)