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‘For the Lost, the Last and the Least’: The story of Chingmak Kejong and wife Phutoli Shikhu

Chingmak Kejong (right) and wife Phutoli Shikhu

In the 1993, the couple founded an NGO under the banner and style-Eleutheros Christian Society (ECS) which in Greek means “Free, Freedom or Freeman”. ECS since then had been rendering yeoman service for the people of Nagaland, particularly Eastern Nagaland in various sectors like health, education and sustainability.

By Imna Longchar, TFM Nagaland Correspondent

It was sometime in the early 1990s, a young pastor in Tuensang district of Nagaland had to conduct the funeral of a little baby.

It was the child of a woman who had nothing left at home to feed her baby and under such desperate circumstances, the woman left her baby at home and went looking for food.

Her only way was to try and catch some fish from the river, which she then sold and with the money went and bought some rice.

When the woman returned home with the rice, she found her baby motionless and lifeless- dead because of malnutrition and starvation.

This experience traumatized and haunted the young pastor, Dr Chingmak Chang, who literally asked himself why should someone had to go so far for a kilo of rice when he lived in a society that believed in sharing and caring yet nobody cared for her and also leading her to question “why couldn’t the Church and the neighbours arrange rice for her”.

After experiencing the incident and also coupled with his wife’s (Phutoli Shikhu) own experiences of losing their own brothers to drug abuse and AIDS, led this pastor and his wife to begin work among the most “destitute and desperate” sections of the society.

In the 1993, the couple founded an NGO under the banner and style-Eleutheros Christian Society (ECS) which in Greek means “Free, Freedom or Freeman”, and its motto being “For the Lost, the Last, and the Least”.


For over twenty eight years, now ECS has lived to its motto and had remarkable impact(s).

-In 1999, the incidence of HIV among intravenous drug users in Tuensang district, Nagaland, was 34 percent and through the intervention of the ECS and other groups, by 2009, it was reduced to 1.8 percent.

-A rehabilitation centre for drug users has treated about a thousand people while also opening a community care centre for HIV patients housing for more than 700 people.

– A micro-finance project started by the society today serves more than 10,000 women with a loan disbursement of Rs. 10 Crores leading these women to save approximately Rs 4 Crores today.

-It has also helped develop over 3000 acres of land for horticulture and agriculture produce, catering to the livelihood of more than 10,000 families.

A recipient of prestigious Nagaland’s prestigious Kevichusa Ctizenship Award 2018, a charitable foundation which recognizes the ideals of a good citizen, Dr Chingmak in the midst of all his work with ECS, he also officially led the Baptist Council of his large tribe while also completing and earning a doctorate degree.

Over the years, Dr Chingmak has gently but persistently, prodded and partnered with the Church, the government, and other agencies to systematically and practically serve and help the weakest and most neglected sections of his society.

Talking to this correspondent, Dr Chingmak shared that as a young boy he had always been moved by the Lord’s Prayer “Thy Kingdom Come! Thy Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven!” that he supposed was his basis.

Dr Chingmak himself could have easily scaled the ladder of upward social and political mobility, but his path in the “footsteps” of the Lord has led him to a “download mobility”, serving the “least of these”.

Some of the important projects initiated by ECS

Highlighting some of the important projects initiated by the ECS till date, Dr Chingmak said that the initial teething problem on implementation of Mid-day meal is almost over and they had positive response from all quarters and for which the society acknowledge the immense role played by the church.

Extending its gratitude to the Education Department, Nagaland, for timely release of both the ration and cooking cost for the project, Dr Chingmak said that the partnership has been more than cordial and hope the same in years ahead.

He also thanked Social Welfare Department, Nagaland, for the sustained support towards the communitized ICDS project which was first implemented in 22 AWC of 10 villages in Tuensang district.

“The pre-school concept began to take prominence and what we are beginning to see is the gradual increase in enrolment at schools”, he added while adding that this was the same experience with Mid-day meal, and thereby improving children’s attendance which according to him was an indication of the effectiveness of the supplementary nutritional programme.

Also adding that the joint proposal for the HCL grant meant that ECS needed to work in tandem with all stakeholders, Dr Chingmak acknowledged the Chief Secretary’s office, the health department and IIT Mumbai, who were amazingly supportive though out the society’s journey leading them to win the HCL Grant for the year 2018 in health category.

He also informed that the support by Tata Trust through NEIDA was now more than 10 years and there has been a remarkable change in community response to adaptation to challenges of livelihood.

He also shared many success stories of the ECS to this correspondent the support received from various quarter including financial institutions and other government departments for successful completion of its different projects till date.

The health centre in Tuensang district which is under its wings was also awarded with the prestigious “Kaykalp Award” in 2018 for best kept PHC in the district where a cash award of Rs 1 lakh was conferred to the ECS and with the HCL support it had planned to adopt 28 sub-centres and five PHCs.

For ECS, he said considered making government programmes become functional, a greater achievement than any of its best of intentions.

Further he said that ECS’s effort was to see that the different programmes succeed was above all aspiration as governmental programmes ultimately serve the poorest, and in doing so, achieve ECS’s goal to work for the “last, the lost and the least”.

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