The 19th Annual Convention of North American Manipur Association (NAMA) was held during the 4th of July weekend at Toronto, Canada. The 19th NAMA Convention 2010 at Toronto, Canada was the second of its kind hosted by Canada since 1997. Also, it was the first of its kind that NAMA invited the chief guest of the convention outside of US and Manipur. We are very humble and honored to have revered Father George Menamparampil as chief guest of the 19thNAMA convention.
Few lines about the Chief Guest: (Father George Menamparampil)
Born in Kerala, but lived there only 11 years. Lived in Manipur 20 years of which 15 in Imphal itself. So considers himself a Manipuri! A Salesian of Don Bosco. Taught in Don Bosco Chingmeirong as a 'brother' from 1972 to 1974. Was headmaster, rector and principal of DB Chingmeirong from 1981 to 1987. In 1982 started the Don Bosco school in Phayeng. In 1983 he founded the DB school at Langjing. In 2001 two DB fathers and one brother were shot dead by UGs at Ngarian. In 2002 he was sent to Imnphal by Don Bosco society to close down the schools. Instead, he revived the schools at Chingmeirong and Langjing and upgraded the one at Phayeng to high school. In his final year in 2008 they got 4 ranks in the state.
He started Bosco Mangaal, a social service wing of Don Bosco Chingmeirong which serves the poorest children of Manipur in numerous ways that he will speak about.
He lived 8.5 years in Belgium as world chaplain of an international organisation of rural youth. He has authored several books, including a set of moral science textbooks for classes 1 to 10, still in use all over India till today.
NAMA members residing at Toronto and the neighborhood provinces at Canada hosted the convention with great enthusiasm and dedication. It was a team effort - each member family contributing their commendable time and effort for the successful conduct of the convention. It will be difficult to single out a particular family but we would like to recognize the families for Dr. Joy Laishram, Gour & Indira Basu, Joy Chabungbam, Phalguni sougaijam, R.K Samananda, Meghendra for their time and effort to make 19thNAMA Convention an enjoyable experience. We are very thankful to all the NAMA members of Canada for hosting and making the 19th NAMA Convention a grand success.
This year we had many new members from Canada attending the convention for the first time. Their presence is especially encouraging and a great pleasure for the NAMA Team and members. We had members attending from different provinces of Canada, majority of them from Toronto and Montreal. From US, NAMA members from New York, Maryland, Illinois, Michigan and Virginia participated at the convention.
We thank all the attendees and those who made great contribution for making the Convention a great success even though they could not attend the meeting. We also missed several NAMA members who could not make to the convention because of the VISA issues and other schedule conflicts. We look forward to see everyone again in next year's convention at New Jersey, US during the July 4 weekend.
The first day of Convention on July 3, 2010 was hosted by Dr. Joy Laishram in the evening at his residence at Ashburn, ON, Canada. It was a memorable evening; members greeting each other and knowing several new members and the first time attendees. There was plenty of good food including barbeque and different kinds of drinks. Participant members introduced themselves and expressed their happiness to be able to attend and pleasure to know other members residing in North America. There was a soccer match among the members as well. Kids and adults enjoyed in the swimming pool at the venue. Some members enjoyed by the fireside at the backyard while many others were cooking traditional Manipur dishes for the next day lunch for main convention event. Participants bought and wore NAMA t-shirts on sale as part of the fund raising activities of NAMA. It was really an enjoyable and memorable evening.
The next day on July 4th, we had our main Convention event at the Cedarbrook Community Centre ,91 Eastpark Blvd, Scarborough ,Ontario, M1H 1C6. The morning session started with a registration process. In the beginning, Dr. Phalguni Sougaijam, the Convener of the convention welcomed all the attendees and call to begin the meeting. The chief guest (Father George Menamparampil),NAMA President (Sushil Laishram) and NAMA Gen. Secretary (Lukhoi Shougaijam) were called upon to take their respective seats at the podium. At the very onset, all the participant members introduce among themselves.
NAMA Gen. Secretary started the opening speech with greetings to all participant members. He emphasized on unity among our community living in the North America to work together to make NAMA a better organization serving our community in the North America and beyond. Also, he gave the official report of the NAMA activities.
The NAMA president gave his speech highlighting the NAMA constitutional values and its importance to safeguard the cultural, traditional and educational values of our community.
Drita K, a founder NAMA member delivered his speech on the history of NAMA. He highlighted how NAMA was born and its constitution was drafted. He brought forward the people who involved and took responsible office bearers of NAMA from US and Canada. Also he highlighted the present situation of Manipur and expressed his heartfelt concern of the sufferings of all communities of Manipur.
Dr. Joy Laishram gave a speech on health and medicine. He advised the importance of good health and how we could maintain.
The chief guest expressed his happiness and gratitude for inviting him as the chief guest of the convention. He highlighted through electronic slides presentation for the noble works he has done for Manipur and other parts of India. He narrated the story how he was sent to close down the Don Bosco school in Chingmeirong, Manipur. On the contrary, he made not only revived the existing Don Bosco school but also established more Don Bosco scools in Manipur. Also, he explained the establishment of Bosco Mangaal to uplift/serve those under privileged kids and youths of Manipur. He explained the need of fund to carry out the activities and requested everyone to donate. On behalf of NAMA Executive Committee, the NAMA treasurer, Hijam Bobo Singh announced US $1000 donation to Bosco Mangaal in favor of Don Bosco Chingmeirong. It was also reported that other members of NAMA had donated for the same cause. It was really a remarkable presentation that everyone could learn from.
Also, it was our honor that Dr. Sunil Kothari, Padma Shri, Dance and Drama Critic from The Times of India to join the convention.
This year, the NAMA Recognition Award for 2010 was given to Thokchom Manihar Sinha, a founder NAMA member from Canada. This award is given to NAMA member who has devoted his/her time and energy for the development of NAMA and/or has significantly contributed to the promotion of Manipur to the people of North America and around the globe. Each year the executive Committee will nominate members for consideration of the award.
After the morning session, we had our lunch break, which includes several specialties of Manipuri dishes to name a few - Nga thongba varieties, iromba, singju, ooti, Champhut, Hei Thongba etc. The food was really delicious. All the participants enjoyed it much. Canada NAMA members prepared the food and bear the expenses on their own. As we all know, it is not an easy task to arrange so many items for such a large gathering. It requires tremendous planning and shopping around. NAMA executive Team and members once again thank our host families for such an extraordinary traditional culinary arrangement.
In the afternoon session, we had group pictures taken. We continued our program further with the selection of next year's venue. New Jersey, US. was decided to be the venue for 20th NAMA Convention 2011. It was considered that it would be the appropriate venue to conduct our next convention as the number of Manipuri Diaspora has increased several folds since last held in New Jersey. Also, NAMA members from other North America countries would be convenient to participate without much of the travel issues. Moreover, we would need a good number of NAMA member participants as we would be selecting the next office bearers of NAMA at the 20th NAMA Convention 2011.
Next, we had our kid's activities and cultural programs. Amy Shougaijam from Richmond,VA sang songs. Lavani Laishram from New York performed Hula Hoop. Lilianne Pukhrambam from Michigan displayed her skills in violin. Starry Rajkumari from Toronto, Canada displayed how she made an animated movie. Also she recited a beautiful poem. Chingakham Ridhi from Chicago,IL played songs on Keyboard as well as singing one. We can clearly notice how our kids are growing before our eyes and how much they have learnt new skills in a year. NAMA is a platform for our children to showcase their own skills and form a network of friendship among them.
We had the extra curriculum activities from NAMA members as well. Jiteshwor Lourengbam from Montreal, Canada displayed two items on Manipuri Thang Ta martial arts. It was really spectacular to watch. Dilip Sharma sang a Manipuri song while Abhinav Nongmeikapam played the guitar.
There was also Manipuri Documentary film screening on Manipur's popular body builder Khundrakpam Pradipkumar who has been living with HIV since the past one decade; won a silver medal in the 50th Senior National Bodybuilding Championship. His courage and determination to overcome HIV is encouraging. He is a role model.
Finally, we had Thabal Dance, which is one of the exciting and eagerly awaited events of NAMA each year. This year's NAMA Convention was a great success with the active participation from a sizable number of member participants from Canada and US. Several of our members also took the advantage of visiting several tourist sites at and around Toronto, Canada and Niagara Falls during the NAMA Convention. Every year, we try to select a venue that can combine NAMA meeting with Summer Vacation for our families and members. We are thankful to all the NAMA members who attended the convention. We hope to see more members once again at the 20th Annual Convention at New Jersey, US during the 4th of July weekend, 2011.