Another of 1st 5 chapters - Citizenship rights for Chakma people (Maitriratna's Life Story)

My name is Maitriratna, which means 'Jewel of Friendship'. I am 18 years old. My life so far has been one of difficulty as a member of the Chakma Tribe in Arunachal Pradesh. My name was changed shortly after meeting Paul Crosland, who I was glad could spend a week with us at Nagaloka, near Nagpur, in the very centre of India. For Paul I wrote out, as he had requested, my vision for the change I'm going to make in the world. Paul also taught the class about combining the visionary with the pragmatic, and therefore the importance of going from the dreaming  to  the planning, the doing and the reviewing before revising the dream.

I wrote:
DREAM: I will do social work and teaching Dhamma to the people.
CHAKMA: In 1964 our Chakma people came to India from Bangladesh. Til now the Chakma People have no citizenship right. I always thinking: “How the CHAKMA peoples get Citizenship right in India? What I have to do?

Though Paul hadn't requested it, I wrote out my autobiography during the week that Paul was here and I offered it to Paul. Paul wouldn't take this gift from me; he took photographs of every page instead. I also enjoyed the lesson that Paul gave about collecting advice from people whilst travelling with his bicycle from one end of his country to the other end of Scotland. He made a website about this as he went along and called this

I am now very happy and very grateful to Paul for all he has done for me and continues to do to support me in my mission to get citizenship rights for my people.

Below is my story, as edited by Paul. The unedited version is at:
On that website you can choose to support my education and the social change that I am going to make happen.

I am very very happy to meet with you and your Dhamachari frioends. You and Dharmachari Bodhi are looking smart and handsome. On your face have extra shinning. I have need your advice sir. I have to do higher studies. After you leave Nagaloka I can enjoy to remembering your face, your personality. I really very, very happy to meet you and when the other countries people come here I am very happy to meet with them.
You are one of my best one.
TO INDIA, Nagaloka And
Arunachal Pradesh

My first memory is of being on my Daddy's shoulders, walking to the village. I was aged 3 or 4. Daddy loved me very much then; he still does. He never hit me; well, only once. That time he hit me on the ear, not too hard. Other times he used some harsh words and angrily told me what I should do. My mother's verbal abuse was far worse; whenever I did anything wrong. Both mum and dad loved me very much and the reason they didn't hit or abuse me more was because they didn't want me to become a bad boy.

When I was 6 years old my father fell ill and became paralysed. That paralysis has never been cured, despite many hospital trips. The doctor has said he can't do anything about it. When my father was paralysed, I wasn't going to school. People in my village asked, “Why aren't you going to school?”. I replied: “Now Daddy cannot work, he cannot earn the money for me to go to school.”

A little later I said to my dad “i want to go to school.” He replied, “As you wish; I will try to help you anyhow.” I was then admitted to the middle school near our village. I did well at school and have never failed in school. This gives me confidence that I will succeed in all things; though things will be difficult at times.

As a child I killed many insects and some small animals; all of which were innocent. This carried on for me beyond my 16th birthday. As I've understood more about what I'm doing when I kill an animal, I've gradually given up killing. I regret what I've done and no longer kill; I am much happier as a vegetarian now.

As a child, my father said that getting to class 10 was enough education for me. Because he is illiterate he cannot understand the value of study. And of course he cannot earn more money. He got very concerned that my leaving home to carry on studying would be costly. I'd said to him by the time that I'd got to 8th class that I wanted to continue studying. His response was to say: “O.K. You had better complete your dream and you will have to take some responsibility to do that. I am ill & I will still do all I can to try and help you with your studies.”

By 2006 my studies involved me travelling 12 kilometres from home. My class teacher liked me very much and searched for a home where I could live nearer to the school. He found a family where I could stay; the husband and wife only having one daughter and one son. I was pleased to serve the master of this house. I lived in his house for 4 years as my home. He always helped me with my studies & my economic problems. He always treated me like another son and thanks to him I completed all of my school -all the way through to 12th grade. I tried to help this 2nd father to me with work that needed doing whenever I saw work being done but he said: “You shouldn't work. You came here to study, not to work.” I found it hard to see them working without helping.


Two other extracts available here:
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