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Stitching dreams at the border

Myanmarese refugees undergo tailoring training at Indo-Myanmar border village in Mizoram

Zokhawthar (Champhai): In the midst of a turbulent world, where dreams have been battered by the storm of political turmoil, there shines a glimmer of hope in the form of Dawt Hlei Par (name changed), a resilient 18-year-old.

Fleeing her homeland in Chin state of Myanmar in 2022, she escaped the clutches of an intensified military junta offensive that shattered lives and dreams alike.

With only a handful of belongings and a heart laden with aspirations, Par sought refuge in Zokhawthar, a humble Indo-Myanmar border village in Mizoram’s Champhai district. But her journey to safety was only the beginning of her trials. Stripped of stability and jobless, she and her many other refugees navigating the labyrinth of odd jobs, struggling to make ends meet.

Life had once held different promise for Par. In the corridors of her school, she had woven dreams of becoming a fashion designer, sketching vibrant worlds of colours and fabrics. “I always wanted to become a designer. I had once dreamed of pursuing my passion. But the 2021 military coup in my country shattered all my dreams,” she sighed, the weight of lost possibilities etched in her eyes.

Yet, within the shadow of adversity, a silver lining emerged. Par is now one of the fortunate 20 young girls, united by fate, who are grasping the threads of their destiny in their own hands. At the heart of their journey stands an angel by the name Sangtea,  now settled in the US, who decided to kindle a flame of hope in the form of a tailoring training center.

At the recently inaugurated Eldora Tailoring Centre, the rhythm of resilience reverberates. As of Friday, the centre shelters 20 trainees, young phoenixes rising from the ashes of their past, being imparted with skills that transcend mere stitching – they are being sewn back together with threads of courage and empowerment. The expenses of this transformative journey are borne by none other than Sangtea himself, a beacon of humanity.

Stitched into their stories are the melodies of perseverance and renewal. Alongside funding, Sangtea’s benevolence extended to the gift of five sewing machines – tools that symbolise not just skill, but the promise of self-sufficiency and independence.

The management board of the Eldora Tailoring Centre envisions a future where these budding talents metamorphose into accomplished designers. Their dreams, once on the brink of shattering, are being nurtured to take flight, to manifest as tangible artistry. 

“The trainees will be trained to produce Sunday and wedding dresses to boost up their livelihood after their training,” shared a member of the managing board, a sentiment laden with hope.

In this sanctuary of growth, scissors dance with fabrics, each snip resonating with the rhythm of newfound dreams. Scissors and materials have been provided without cost, just as the training itself. This sanctuary is a testament to the power of collective compassion and the belief that dreams, even when trampled, can be mended and tailored anew.

Nestled along the Indo-Myanmar border, Zokhawthar village stands as a testament to human resilience, a canvas where hope paints its masterpiece even in the face of adversity. This village, once merely an outpost of commerce, now cradles the largest congregation of Myanmar refugees in Mizoram, over 3,000 souls sharing stories of survival and aspiration.

Within this tapestry of lives, Zokhawthar’s population of 2,362 (2011 census) is more than numbers; it’s a community woven together by trade, shared experiences, and the pursuit of a brighter tomorrow.

As we reflect on the tale of Dawt Hlei Par and her fellow trainees, we’re reminded that even amidst the harshest gales, the human spirit can stitch together the most beautiful tapestries of triumph. 

The Eldora Tailoring Centre stands not just as a haven of skill, but as a sanctuary of second chances and the embodiment of the belief that dreams, like fabrics, can be reshaped into something even more exquisite than before.

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