Manipur music mission touches a special heart

Singer Akhu Chingangbam and his team raise funds for surgery on 13-year-old children's home inmate

By Khelen Thokchom
  • Published 21.06.16
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Akhu Chingangbam (extreme left) teaches music to the children of the home in Imphal. Telegraph picture

Imphal, June 20: Efforts by Imphal-based singer Akhu Chingangbam and his team to help a 13-year-old inmate of a children's home here, who has been diagnosed with adult congenital heart disease, are bearing fruit.

Ronid Chingangbam, better known as Akhu, and his team have raised enough funds from people around the world, including donors from the United States. The girl will undergo heart surgery at a hospital here next month. A cardiac surgeon from outside the state will be part of the team that will operate on the child.

"I am happy that there are people around the world who are always ready to help the helpless. I am also happy that the financial burden of the officials of the children's home and parents of the girl has been taken care of by generous donations," Akhu told The Telegraph .

Akhu, along with educator Monika Khangembam, was working on a music project called A Native Tongue Called Peace at Carmel Jyoti Children's Home on the outskirts here when they came across the girl who had who stopped growing because of a heart problem.

The project, which began in May last year, involves teaching the 65 children in the home - orphans, children from broken families and underprivileged parents - dance, music and other creative activities like art of paper folding and making greeting cards.

Hailing from Ukhrul district, Lucy (not her real name) has a 29.5mm hole in her heart.

Her father is bedridden with a chronic ailment and mother works in a sand quarry to eke out a living. Doctors believe Lucy was born with this condition, which should have been taken care of before she was five.

Akhu and his team launched the music project with the hope of promoting harmony among various ethnic groups in Manipur, which are now sharply polarised and divided.

"The children at the home represent almost all the communities. In spite of their social backgrounds, they love each other as brothers and sisters," Akhu said.

The children are benefiting from the music project. Four original songs performed by the children have already been released.

They have also learnt how to make greeting cards from Monika and these have found buyers.

Akhu, a PhD in physics from Centre for Theoretical Physics from Jamia Millia Islamia, is a singer, songwriter and poet. He leads the folk rock band Imphal Talkies, one of the 32 bands chosen from 32 countries by In Place of War and Unconvention (United Kingdom) for the Album of the Revolution in 2013.

After Lucy's surgery, the children will stage a concert here next month. Rahul Ram of the Indian Ocean will perform along with the children.