Padma Shri Sano Vamuzo: A Lifetime Dedicated To Peace And Advocacy - Eastern Mirror
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Padma Shri Sano Vamuzo: A lifetime dedicated to peace and advocacy

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By Menuse-O Max Khieya Updated: May 19, 2024 11:41 pm
Vamuzo
File photo of Sano Vamuzo, recipient of the Padma Shri Award, during an event in Kohima. (EM Images)

KOHIMA — Sano Vamuzo, the 84-year-old recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri Award, embodies a life dedicated to social work and education.

Her journey, marked by a deep-seated desire for peace and unity in her native Nagaland, has seen her tackle social evils, mediate political conflicts, and champion the cause of women.

Speaking to Eastern Mirror at her residence in Kohima on Sunday, she reflected on her journey and shared that her inspiration to pursue a career in social work and education stemmed from the desire to foster a peaceful atmosphere and fulfill her responsibilities as a mother.

‘Cannot be a silent spectator’

“I cannot remain quiet when there are so many evils around. I cannot be a silent spectator while evil influences surround me and affect my family,” she asserted.

This conviction, born from her role as a mother, fueled her desire to create a safe and peaceful atmosphere for her children and the community.

Recognising that she wouldn’t achieve this alone, Vamuzo decided to start a platform and reached out to her friends, and together they founded the Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA).

She acknowledged that it is ‘quite natural’ to face challenges while founding and leading an organisation like the NMA. And while people create these challenges by forming different groups, she reasoned that she cannot expect others to share the same mindset as hers.

The Padma Shri Award, a testament to her lifelong contributions, holds immense personal and professional significance. While she insists she didn’t actively seek recognition, she acknowledged the challenges and motivations it brings, stating that it serves as motivation for her to further contribute to society.

For Vamuzo, the role of women in Nagaland society is paramount. “A mother is a mother for all mankind,” she declared, adding that mothers are especially concerned about social evils that could harm their children.

She observes that women face unprecedented challenges in today’s complex society, highlighting the need for them to be active participants in the fight against social ills. Women cannot remain silent spectators, she underscored.

‘We must hold ourselves accountable’

Elaborating on her vision for resolving the political conflicts and social issues in Nagaland, Vamuzo emphasised the severity of the situation. She reiterated that many of their challenges are self-inflicted.

She stated that society itself is responsible for the current state of affairs.

“Unless we first hold ourselves accountable and stop blaming others, a solution will never come,” she said.

“We are not listening to anyone and we think that what we say is correct,” she said, maintaining that “there is a need to listen to others, but they are not doing that, which is why their problems are multiplying.”

Furthermore, the solution to the Naga people’s problems lies in unity and true forgiveness, invoking the name of Jesus Christ, she said, while adding that what is lacking in Naga society is love.

On her role as the first chairperson of the Nagaland State Commission for Women, Vamuzo said that the initial focus of the pioneering team was advocating for women’s rights and fighting for gender equality.

“It doesn’t imply that women should fight with men, nor is it ever stated that women are inferior to men; we are all equal,” Vamuzo asserted, highlighting the need for mutual respect.

Reflecting on the influence that her late husband, former chief minister Vamuzo Phesao, had on her work, she recalled that he never obstructed her. While he focused on serving the people, she felt compelled to speak out and assist those in need, particularly women and the broader society. Despite her active involvement, she noted his unwavering support and happiness with her endeavours.

For young social workers and activists in Nagaland, Vamuzo emphasised the importance of knowing their Creator, stating that without this understanding, relying solely on personal wisdom could lead to complicated problems.

She also cautioned that relying solely on education and degrees without the fear of God can be ‘destructive’.

A call to action

As an advisor to the NMA, Vamüzo expressed having numerous concerns on her mind. Among them, she highlighted the pressing issue of the current political situation. However, she acknowledged that resolving this issue would require time.

She also expressed frustration over the rampant abuse of alcohol and drugs, child trafficking, which is prevalent in Dimapur, some parts of Kohima, and almost all urban areas in the state. She also highlighted the destruction of forests as another pressing issue that requires attention.

Raising concerns about women involved in brewing and selling liquor, she mentioned her immediate plans to launch a campaign, starting with educating mothers to combat alcohol and drug abuse, along with various social evils, and promoting a message of love for their children and society.

Vamuzo recounted that with the formation of NMA, they adopted the roles of mothers, with the government as the father figure and the youth as their children. However, despite this familial structure, she lamented the division among Nagas due to differences of opinion, leading to conflicts and violence.

She emphasised the importance of transformation, starting from within each Naga home for the community to evolve into a better nation. She concluded by expressing her prayer for God’s will to be realised on earth, mirroring the harmony found in heaven.

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By Menuse-O Max Khieya Updated: May 19, 2024 11:41:43 pm
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