June 7 – NORTH-EAST INDIA
Seven small states crowd into North-East India; they are bordered by Bangladesh to the west, Burma to the east, China and Bhutan to the north and the Bay of Bengal to the south. Assam State is the most populated of them (over 23 million people); it lies in a plain round the powerful Brahmaputra and yields 70% of the Indian tea production. The other States lie in hilly areas lived in by tribal people of the Tibeto-Burman type, who have their own languages (40 in Nagaland alone) and their ancestral customs, some of which are reminiscent of those of the ancient head-hunters in Nagaland.
Following the 1966-1968 troubles, all foreigners, including some Canadian missionaries and Brothers of the Holy Cross, were driven out. In order to replace them the Bishop of Silchar (Assam) turned to the Brothers of Saint Gabriel; six of them arrived at the Archbishop’s House on 7 June 1975. Two days later the Bishop travelled with three of them to Mizoram, then with three others to Aizwal. In 1978 a third school was started at Chhingchhip.
More foundations took place in other States: at Chabua (Assam) in 1985; Baghty (Nagaland) in 1987, Champaknagar (Tripura) in 1993, Tura (Meghalaya) in 1995, Guwahati (capital of Assam) in 1994, Shillong (Meghalaya) in 1995. The last
foundation was designed to be a scholasticate, and all the others were schools. At Tura the Brothers run three schools on a 20-hectare campus: one for hearing boys and girls, one for deaf boys and girls, and one for blind boys and girls, so as to better integrate the disabled with the other children.
In North-East India the Brothers live as missionaries, very far from their homeland, and facing new cultures and new languages, even though English is the medium of instruction in all the States.
What was called the Mizoram District in 1978, then the North-East in 1986, became· a Province in 1998; it is made up of 31 Brothers working in eight schools; the Provincial House is at Guwahati, the juniorate at Chabua and the scholasticate at Shillong.