Lawngtlai District is one of the eight administrative districts in Mizoram. It is situated in the south eastern part of Mizoram and covers 1870 sq. km. According to latest Census (2011), Lawngtlai District has a population of 117444 persons, with 60379 male and 57065 female. There are 86 villages and 8 sub villages.
The inhabitants of the District comprises mainly of Lai people, who are the majority in the district and are the indigenous people of the land. But, there are various other tribes like the Bru, Chakma, Bawm, Mara, Pang etc. The Mara people are from the neighbouring Saiha District, and the rest are mainly from Myanmar and Bangladesh and they all belong to minor tribal communities of Mizoram. Majority of these people live in villages and extremely remote areas.
Lawngtlai District is located in the south eastern corner of the state of Mizoram, sharing an International boundary with Myanmar in the south and Bangladesh in the West; and it is bounded by Lunglei District in the north and Saiha District in the south. The physical feature is mainly hilly except some small strip of low lying area a long the western side of Chamdur Valley. The hills are of a mountainous system with a soft earth surface. Landslide disaster is a common seen especially during rainy season throughout the area.
Due to its geographical location, the population in Lawngtlai district has a number of people migrating from Myanmar and Bangladesh. It is the sad political and economic situation of Myanmar that encourages the people to wander and migrate to different parts of the world. Many of these people migrate to Mizoram as a refugee, especially in Lawngtlai District, due to its geographical location. There is no village within the district, without at least a single family from either Burma. The eastern area of Lawngtlai district has a majority of migrants from Myanmar and the western area, from Bangladesh. Majority of these people are illiterate and live in extreme poverty. Its so sad to tell that the low economic condition of the Lawngtlai area is unable to provide them of much assistance except for place to reside.
The main source of income in this area is agriculture. The system followed is the traditional ‘jhum cultivation’ or ‘shifting cultivation’, whereby the land is burnt each year for plantation, and instead of cultivating the same land, each year the place of cultivation is shifted to a different location, and most farmers do not own their own agricultural land, but instead farm the land owned by the village. This resulted in extreme afforestation and also there cannot be a stable source of livelihood.
There are a few people whose source of income is based on the government and the autonomous district council. But these people are of the educated elite, who resides mainly in towns and constitute approximately 20% of the whole population.
It is the pride of Mizoram that the literacy rate is 91.85%, at stands 3rd in the whole of India, next only to Kerala (93.91%) and Lakshadweep (92.8%). It has an increase of 2.78% from the last census. However, among the 8 districts in Mizoram, Lawngtlai District stands the last in this regard. In 2001 census, the literacy rate of Lawngtlai District was 67.16%. However, there was a decline in the rate in the latest census to only 66.41%. We can put much of the blame to the said migrants from the neighbouring districts, who are mostly illiterate.
The Lairam Jesus Christ Baptist Church (LJCBC) is young yet vibrant church, whose foundation was based on unity and cooperation among the people to strive towards justice and peace for the land. The church had its beginning in the year 1999, as a union between The Lairam Baptist Church and the Church of Jesus Christ, Bualpui, due to their common objectives. The priority of this church is to struggle for and with the people of the Lai District and to uplift the life of the people, led by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
During this short span of twelve years, the LJCBC had laid foundations to two very significant projects, both underlying the aims of the Church. Understanding the need of the people, the LJCBC founded the Lairam Motherless Home and the Lairam Christian Medical Centre and Hospital.
The Lairam Motherless Home:
The Lairam Motherless Home (LMH) was established in July 20, 2000. The initiative was taken by the Women Fellowship. The foremost motivation for the establishment of LMH is that since there were many refugees coming from Myanmar and especially Bangladesh, the health condition was extremely poor. Due to this, there were many orphans and motherless babies in the area, some with parents, were unable to take care of their babies due to poverty or ill-health. According to the Basic Health Indicators of the Health and Family Welfare Department of the Government of Mizoram, 2006 the maternal mortality rate is 163 in Mizoram, while it is 407 in the whole of India. We are unable to get information on Lawngtlai District but, from the difference of the literacy rate from Mizoram to Lawngtlai district, we can understand that the maternal mortality rate in Lawngtlai district to be much higher than 163. As a result, the church, considering the severe need, founded the Home. At present the capacity of the Home is for 20 babies, up to the age of 3, and there are 7 workers, including the Home Mother. The home runs with the help of donations from NGOs and well wishers across the state.
It is however, heartbreaking that the Lairam Motherless Home is unable to take care of all the other motherless babies in the area.
The Lairam Christian Medical Centre and Hospital:
The Lairam Christian Medical Centre and Hospital (LCMC&H) was established in September 19, 2001 keeping in mind the people in the rural areas, who are unable to get medical aid from the expensive private hospitals. The vision while founding the LCMC&H is to establish a hospital with enough facilities to cater the needs of the people. With this vision, the Church laid hands in building the Hospital at a quite suburb of Lawngtlai Town. Sadly, at present, the construction work has ceased to continue due to lack of funds, for more than two years.
However, knowing the extreme need of the people, the LCMC&H operate at a meager level, which is called the Lairam Christian Medical Centre (LCMC). With the help of aids from the government, we are able to purchase equipments like endoscope, ultrasound and x-ray machines. There are 60 beds and 1 medical officer, 18 nurses and other 3 visiting doctors. In the year 2010 (April)-2011 (January), the Medical Centre had 15,436 out-patients and 2252 in-patients. We would have looked after much more patients if we had finished the construction work and establishment of the LCMC&H.
Apart from this, LCMC organized various project within the district, to cater for the people in extreme rural areas. Many of these places are not communicated by road transport and do not enjoy the privilege of electricity. At least 10 mobile medical unit has been arranged in the previous year and more than 2000 patients were treated and 168 of them were referred to LCMC for better treatment.
Lawngtlai District is a malaria prone area. Each year, there were a number of death cases, due to Malaria and countless numbers suffering from it. Due to this, in the 11th General Assembly of the LJCBC, the year 2010-2011 was declared as “Year of Fight against Malaria”. The LCMC was entrusted with the project and with the help of the government; much actions were taken, including education on prevention against malaria, and giving medical aids to patients suffering from it.
There are 16 pastorates within the Lairam Jesus Christ Baptist Church. Among these pastorates, 6 of them shares border with either Myanmar or Bangladesh, and have a huge number of people from these areas, as already stated. In the Rural Health Project Medical Units will be established in the said 6 pastorates; each pastorate has approximately 5 villages. There shall also be one full time doctor, to take care of the 6 medical units and a project coordinator to look after the project. His/her task would be to visit the units, coordinates them and tend severe medical cases. In each these Medical Units, there will also be one full time nurse or any other trained medical Staff and one social worker. Thus there shall be two programmes attached with the project:
1. Health Education: Issues such as safe drinking, water maternity care, cleanliness, first aid, Malaria, food and nutrition etc. are often neglected, mainly due to poverty and ignorance. The Social Worker, helped by the Medical Staff shall organize at least two workshops/trainings per village on these issues. We hope through this, we may be able to fight against most of the common diseases in our area like Typhoid, Malaria, Diarrhea, malnutrition, anemia and so on. Special emphasis on women and child care; education on maternity, child birth and child care etc.
2. Medical Care: The nurse will take care of the urgent medical needs, minor care, simple diagnosis, first aid, vaccinations and other medical related treatments as well as referring severe and complicated cases to the hospital. Many people have died in these areas due to negligence and problem relating to difficulty in approaching the town for medical need. Special attention will be given to pregnant women, in terms of vaccination, food and nutrition. The medical unit will have a maternity cabin for childbirth.