Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Dr. Angelice A Sangma: Weaving Hope and Healing into Rural Hearts


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Unfolding a tapestry of compassion and creativity, Dr. Sangma’s example is a solid source of inspiration for many, writes Tilottama Marak

Stories of people dedicating their lives and passion in honour of serving people, that too, in selfless fashion is almost rare. However, some good samaritans still uphold such values and reinstate our faith in humanity. In the heart of the serene rural landscape of Tura, West Garo Hills district, an unsung hero emerges, a beacon of hope for women and children. Dr. Angelice A Sangma, a dedicated medical professional and also a master weaver, has selflessly devoted her life to the welfare of the most vulnerable members of society.

A Healing Touch: 

It’s not everyday one will come across someone who dedicates their life to the welfare of women and children in the rural hinterlands. Sangma, a Medical Doctor by profession, is not your average physician. She’s a force to be reckoned with, touching lives with her relentless service. Her journey began in the sacred halls of Christian Girls Higher Secondary School in Tura, where her academic prowess shone, securing the 8th position in the top 10 list during her state board examinations in 1994.

Angelice joined the State Service in December, 2003 and embarked on a remarkable odyssey of serving people in rural areas. Her efforts include spearheading ICDS programs, promoting rural health and awareness, coordinating vaccination drives, and motivating mothers for safe motherhood and institutional delivery. It was in the Rongram block that her magic truly unfolded by increasing institutional deliveries from zero to an astounding 12-15 numbers per month initially which later increased to 24-26 numbers. She personally conducted deliveries and gave baby clothes to mothers who stayed in the hospital post-delivery, ensuring the safety of both mother and child. At that time the Central team also came for inspection and acknowledging her hard work they had set up the First Neonatal Room at Asanang PHC under Rongram Block in West Garo Hills. Sangma’s compassion even led her to breastfeed a baby, whose mother passed away just after childbirth proving that breastmilk is important in the first hours of childbirth which ensures immunity to the baby and saves a life in the process.

A Champion of Child Welfare: 

Sangma’s dedication doesn’t stop at healthcare. She’s also an active member of the Child Welfare Committee, West Garo Hills giving time and support to address children in need of care and protection (CNCP). She is also providing medical care and attention to children at Government run Children Homes as well as offering support to women affected by violence at the One Stop Centre in Tura, West Garo Hills since 2018.

A Voice Against the Unspoken: 

Beyond her remarkable professional career, Sangma is a supporter for the rights of children. She’s a member of the Indian Child Protection Medical Professionals Network, a body committed to addressing child abuse, neglect, and child labor. Her articles on child brides, the legal aspects of child marriage, and child sexual abuse are the first of their kind in the local language, sparking conversations that are often left unsaid.

Weaving Dreams: 

But the doctor’s contributions extended beyond her medical prowess and advocacy work. In 2014, she embarked on a journey of creativity, breathing life into the ancient art of weaving. Armed with a vision and passion, she started to weave the Garo traditional sarong, Dakmanda, with intricate designs and patterns. Each design, drawn meticulously on graph paper and then transposed onto plain paper with coloured sketch pens, tells a story of culture and craftsmanship the result of which is a priceless possession that every woman dreams of owning.

As the demand for Dakmandas increased manifold, her venture transformed into a thriving cottage industry engaging numerous families and weavers. Apart from the Dakmandas, she also started making masks, jackets, waistcoats, handbags, stoles, and shawls which became the canvas of her artistry, suffused with a traditional touch. In fact, even during the pandemic and post-pandemic era, her designs boomed in demand, catering to orders from sought after clients and enthusiasts alike and her products travelled to many other countries such as U.K., Russia, Europe and Bangladesh.

Empowering Lives:

This dual journey has a profound purpose – to uplift the poor and unemployed, raise their standards of living, and to breathe new life into the traditional Dakmandas in a trendy style, enriching the Garo society’s rich ethnicity. Her Instagram page “trendy_tradi” bears witness to her stunning hand-woven designs, where anyone can order a piece of culture and craftsmanship.

And how does Angelice manage it all? With late-night design sessions after a busy day of professional work, household chores, and her role as a mother. She knows that nothing comes easy when you wear many hats, but her patience, hard work, and unwavering perseverance have taken her passion to the next level. Today, weavers can earn their living, pay their children’s admissions and school fees, and perpetuate the tradition of Garo weaving.

Dr. Angelice A Sangma is a shining example of what one person can achieve when fueled by compassion, creativity, and an unwavering commitment to make the world a better place. In the rural heartland of Meghalaya, her legacy is one of hope, healing, and a tapestry of change.

Tilottama Marak (Tilu) is a journalist based out of Tura and has been working as an employee in the Information and Public Relations (IPR)Department, Govt of Meghalaya since 2011.

Image captions – 

Photo Sl. no 1 – Angelice A Sangma

photo sl. no 2 – with her Men Weavers

photo sl no 3    -with her women weavers

photo sl no. 4   – with all her weavers

photo sl no.  5   – with her first two weavers with whom she started her career as weaver

photo sl no. 7    – Handmade pattern and design for Dakmandas

other photos – weaving in action


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