How carpentry inspired a rags-to-riches story in Nagaland
Dimapur, Feb. 24 (EMN): Twenty-seven-year-old Ruovilhoukho Chuzo, a resident of Medziphema, experienced poverty early in life, at times even going to bed without a meal in the day. Things have changed now, but he still remembers clearly how it used to be.
Chuzo’s mother passed away when he was only 12 years old. His father is a daily wage earner who could hardly manage the family’s basic needs and the children’s school fees. This ‘reality’, quite cruelly, struck Chuzo when he was a student of class 11.
He had to abandon his academic pursuit because his father could no longer afford the fees. After quitting studies, Chuzo decided to help his family to ensure that his four siblings receive proper education: he started earning by means of cutting wood, clearing mud, and clearing forest—to name a few.
It was in 2012, while going through the contents of a local newspaper, that he came across an advertisement by the Industrial Training Institute (ITI) in Kohima, announcing that it was providing a free one-year training in carpentry.
Recalling his stay in Kohima, Chuzo said: “When I was in Kohima for training, my aunt used to give me INR 20 every day for transportation. If I misused even a rupee, I had to walk all the way home from the training institute. It was quite a distance and sometimes, I sweated a lot on hot days, while on other days, I walked home fully drenched in rain.”
According to him, he learned the “value of INR 5” then.
After completing the one-year training, Chuzo returned to Medziphema. However, he was not able to start business immediately as he had no carpentry tools.
“Sometimes I borrowed tools from neighbours and work on some furniture, but it wasn’t enough as I had no money to constantly hire tools,” Chuzo admitted, adding though he returned a trained carpenter, it was not enough to improve his family’s living condition.
Things turned for the worse when his brother became a victim of a drunken driver in 2013. “The only person I could lean on to left me early. I was left without a single penny to buy food,” Chuzo shared.
According to him, in the midst of his daily struggles, he decided to ‘leave it all’ to God. He remembers his exact words to God: “If you redeem me from this plight, I will testify your name wherever I go.”
Before long, he received a call from the Nagaland Bamboo Resource Centre (NBRC) in Dimapur, offering him free training on bamboo craft.
Chuzo underwent basic and professional training course on bamboo craft at the NBRC in 2016. He said, “I learnt so much there (at NBRC). The staff were cordial and loving. They taught me life’s values and I learned to look at life positively.”
In 2016, the Nagaland Bamboo Development Agency (NBDA) offered him machines and tools to start his enterprise.
Today, Chuzo owns three enterprises: ‘The Naga’s Feather’ (called Ruovi Craft Collection earlier), located at NBRC, 6th Mile Sovima, where he offers three-month training course to school dropouts and unemployed youth for free; he provides free food to the trainees too.
He is the proud owner of ‘Collection Store,’ at 2nd gate Chumukedima, ward 3, where he sells his products, including those made by local craftsmen; it also sells plastic toys for kids.
And in 2017, Chuzo started ‘Chop Stick Restaurant’ at 6th Mile junction, Tenyiphe 1—where he serves noodles and dumplings. “I make bamboo chopsticks for use in my restaurant to let people learn the value of our mother nature,” he said, adding only wood and bamboo products are used in this restaurant.
Having experienced extreme poverty and depression, Chuzo knows a thing or two about people living on the “wrong side of the track.” Hence, after he received the tools from the NBDA, he began giving free training to school dropouts and youth from poor families for three months.
Chuzo was acknowledged for his effort and social service in 2017; he was awarded the ‘Promising Artisan of the Year’ by NBDA. Another feather was added to his cap, when, on Jan. 12, 2019, a Dimapur-based non-governmental organisation, CAN Youth, honoured him with the ‘Excellence Award.’
Chuzo is also a motivational speaker; he speaks at seminars, youth camps, and other related programmes, sharing his life story and his transformation. He invariably credits God for what he has become.
Chuzo has a message to share: “If you are struggling in your life, commit yourself to God. And even when you fail in studies, don’t be discouraged; God has a plan for you in other things.” His statement is that when he was forced to leave studies, he took a stand to become a master in what he does.
Chuzo truly believes when God closes one door, He opens another. His real life rags-to-riches transformation is indeed a truly inspiring story.
Today, Chuzo is reaping the fruits of hard work. “Whatever I have today is all by the grace of God and support from my family, friends, and well wishers. Together we can make a difference, together we can help someone,” Chuzo said.