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News of our work India & Bangladesh May - October 2009


It is with great sadness that the death of Arijeet was announced on 26 December 2008 following heart surgery. Arijeet had held the post of Administrator at Behala since November 2001 and everyone who had met him will always remember his kindness, his dedication, his love for the boys under his care and his sense of humour. The Rt. Rev Bill Down, President, Oxford Mission, reflects on the life of Arijeet, followed by some of the personal memories from UK Committee members

Arijeet Roy

“Arijeet was a remarkable man. He combined an astute business brain with outstanding administrative skills and a wonderfully warm nature. I had the privilege of getting to know him during my visits to Kolkata on behalf of the Oxford Mission, as a guest in our home, and through his regular brief phone calls. The more 1saw of him, the more 1came to respect, admire and love him. Arijeet was a man of great integrity. He had high standards himself, and he expected high standards in others. He was highly respected in the business circles of Kolkata where his straight talking and refusal to compromise when he felt himself to be in the right were much appreciated. He brought a wealth of business knowledge and experience, and a sharp intelligence, to his work as Administrator of the Oxford Mission, and combined this with a deep and genuine love for the children in his care. He was always seeking ways to improve their living conditions.

He worked hard himself, and he expected his staff to do the same. He rose very early in the morning, by 5.00 am he would be moving round the compound. He made it his business to know what each member of staff was expected to do, and he ensured they did it. His tongue could be quite sharp if necessary! 1accompanied him more than once on his morning routine, and the impact he had on the whole place was most impressive. I watched with the eye of one who had previously had responsibility for more than a hundred seafarers' centres all over the world, and it was plain to see that Arijeet was an excellent administrator.

Arijeet loved the Oxford Mission. A dedicated Christian himself, he always wanted what was best for the Mission. He made time each day to be alone with God, and I was very moved by his appreciation of my gift to him of our Anglican Common Worship Daily Prayer Book. He would speak glowingly of it whenever he telephoned.

Cricket was another of his great loves. An influential member of the Bengal cricket administration, he took me on a never-to-be-forgotten visit to Eden gardens, the biggest cricket stadium in the world. He was greeted there with huge respect, as he was also in two Kolkata clubs we visited and of which he was a member. He was a man of high standing in the community.

Arijeet Roy 2

It was as a person that Arijeet was so impressive. His Christian faith underpinned and influenced all his actions. He was a devoted family man, and a visit to his and Kanchan's home was to experience hospitality and warmth at its best. He was a true friend - loyal, outgoing, supportive, and with an infectious sense of humour. It was a privilege to spend time with him – he was a good companion. He will be greatly missed. My heart goes out to Kanchan and the family. 1have treasured memories of him, and 1am glad that he did not suffer for long after his surgery, because he would have made a terrible invalid!

The Rt Rev Bill Down

Arijeet Roy 3

Arijeet's joy and enthusiasm was infectious, and everyone who met him couldn't help but like him. He wanted, before he retired, to make the Oxford Mission at Barisha 'pukka; but his health was failing, and on talking to dear Kanchan, she feels that he decided to have the operation in the hope that this would give him more time to complete the task he had set himself. This was not to be, and his premature death has left a void in many peoples' hearts, including mine. The OMTA will have a very difficult task in finding someone to replace such a venerated man”

Mary Marsh, General Secretary

Arijeet Roy as Father Christmas

Arijeet's welcoming face at Kolkata airport in the early hours of the morning was always a great relief after the overnight flight, and his care for one's comfort on arrival at the Mission House was also much appreciated. He escorted me round the compound on each occasion I visited, greeting all the boys we met and explaining everything to me in detail. I have very happy memories of the grand opening of the Mathieson Memorial Music Centre with the Bishop and the Deputy High Commissioner - an occasion organised in painstaking detail by Arijeet himself. On one visit to Barisha, I made a point of visiting several Rotary Cubs in the city to make contact and ask for their support of the OM Arijeet uncomplainingly escorted me all round Kolkata and sat through all the meetings - and took me to visit his own (sporting) club into the bargain. Perhaps the pleasantest memory is of his hospitality in his own home with Kanchan and other family members and friends. We shall miss a kind, generous and hard-working Administrator.”

Simon Ling, Chairman, OM Committee

Arijeet Roy 4

Arijeet and Kanchan stayed with us in Wallingford for four delightful days in June 2004. They both inspired our church congregation in a similar way to Mother Susila on an earlier visit. Arijeet gave a sermon at evensong in our Saxon Church and also had the opportunity of speaking more about the OM at a garden party we gave in their honour. On another day, when walking through the University Church in Oxford, Arijeet became quite emotional, saying that he was deeply moved to be treading the paths taken by the founders of the OM. At Christ Church, his ebullience and description of the work at Behala to the porter on the college gate gained him and Kanchan free admission to the college, and in gratitude, he gave the porter an OM lapel badge. They were such charming, generous and appreciative guests, and left a lasting impression of exotic India. They were wonderful Ambassadors for the Mission.

Lady Imray, ex-Committee member

I have memories of a delightful man, who did a tremendous amount for the Mission in his years as Administrator. He was a pleasure to deal with when I was Editor of the OM News, as his contributions arrived in good time, and the photographs were of good quality and always captioned, which was a great help. His “Letters from Behala” were full of enthusiasm, of love for the boys in his charge and happiness at their successes. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him”

Gill Wilson, Committee member

Arijeet was very hospitable, making me feel very welcome at Behala and looking after me so well. He was so enthusiastic about the OM and worked so hard to get the Mathieson Memorial Music Centre built. I will always remember going to his amazing house on the other side of Kolkata and being graciously entertained by him and his family. It was also a great privilege to have Arijeet and Kanchan to visit our family on their trip to England, and Arijeet so appreciated attending the service in Romsey Abbey. He will be sadly missed”

Margaret How, Committee member

I first met Arijeet when, in 2003, I represented the UK Committee at the 100th birthday celebrations for Sister Florence. She thoroughly enjoyed every minute of quite a full day, and it was Arijeet's organising ability and drive that made it what it was. During Arijeet and Kanchan's visit to England, I had the pleasure of giving them a lightening tour, including a visit to Mother Winifred in Ditchingham, a visit to Fr Robert Llewlyn in Norwich (who has had links with the OM since the early 1940's) and a visit to Orpington to stay with Bill Markham, who knew Behala well during his time in Calcutta. The tour also included a day trip to Paris, which both Arijeet and Kanchan greatly enjoyed. During my last visit to Behala (in December2008/January 2009), Arijeet was very kind and considerate, and we spent many hours discussing many topics including the difficult decisions he had to make within the compound and his wish to be less dependent on foreign aid.

Arijeet Roy 5

Arijeet and Kanchan visited us at our home during their UK visit in 2004. Although the time we had together was short, l warmed to him immediately. His love of the boys at Behala, infectious enthusiasm, unquenchable energy and vision confirmed that life at the OM Barisha was in very capable and trustworthy hands. While he was appropriately serious about his work, that twinkle in his eyes when we spoke together of the life and times of Kolkata warmly conveyed a rich sense of humour. He will be missed, which is an understatement. If heaven is a place of rewards, surely his will be significant. And, as we remember him, it must not be forgotten that his dear wife Kanchan played her part magnificently – their partnership in service was a most precious thing”

Bill Markham, Friend of the Oxford Mission

Arijeet Roy 6

We have many happy memories of meeting Arijeet and Kanchan in Calcutta and of course when they came to England and stayed with us here in Frome. ln England with us, his first comment was about our roads and traffic - "so calm, so disciplined, so polite" - not what we may think but so different from his Kolkata experiences. He enjoyed his stay with us so much he wanted Reg to convert our garden shed so that he could stay longer, We were sure the idea held less appeal to Kanchan, as for her it was Marks and Spencer that provided the main attraction. One day we ordered an Indian takeaway, and Arijeet insisted on having the hottest vindaloo. Well, as he started to eat, the perspiration was rolling off his (bald) head, so he decided to coyer it with a napkin and ate his whole meal so attired!

His faith was obvious and he was comfortable in worshipping in two of our parish churches, and would enjoy sitting outside the church simply taking in the view and relishing the tranquil rural atmosphere. There are many memories of a true gentleman and friend, and we have photographs to jog the memory and they still provide plenty of smiles.”

The Davis family, friends of Arijeet & Kanchan

Arijeet Roy 7

? News & Events| 1+News & Events

The Oxford Calcutta Quartet

Gill Wilson, UK Committee member, reports on the lives of the members of the above group:

Manab Naskar & boysfrom the Music School Dec 2008

One of the benefits of the training at the excellent Music School at OM Behala is the opportunity it gives the most talented boys to find jobs when they leave. Many of our supporters will remember the Quartet which visited the UK from the Mission in 2000, and played concerts of Western and lndian music aIl over the country to great acclaim. They have aIl made music their careers: Sanjib Mondai has his own music school in Kolkata, plays in the Kolkata Symphony Orchestra and trains the Senior Orchestra at the Mission; Manab Nasl<ar has joined the Music School at the newly-founded University of Trinidad and Tobago as Cello lnstructor 1, with responsibility for promoting cello playing in schools throughout the islands and finding students for the University; Sudipta Majhi is joining the Public Security Band of Bahrain, and Amin Khan is in the lndian Navy Band.

The OM is proud of them, and wishes them, and other aspiring musicians, every blessing on their future careers.

Romsey Abbey Mothers' Union

For many years, Romsey Abbey and St Swithin's have supported the work of the Oxford Mission, and Margaret How, UK Committee member, recently gave a talk to the Mothers' Union about her recent trip to Bangladesh. ln the 1970s, Margaret worked in Bangladesh in St Anne's Medical Centre which is run by the Oxford Mission and, over the years, she has kept in close and loving touch with people there. On her return to Bangladesh, Margaret was accompanied by Barnaby Bear, a teddy who is an invaluable teaching asset for her work with Bengali children in England. Barnaby featured in most of the slides shown at the presentation, including on the Rocket river steamer and halfway across a river on a very narrow bridge, admiring the beautiful scenery. Margaret's enthusiastic and entertaining talk to the group brought the Mission and its work to life.

Visit to Scotland

Father Martin MondaI and his wife Elizabeth from Haluaghat are visiting Scotland this year, Martin will be there for most of May and June, and Elizabeth for just a couple of weeks at the beginning of their trip. The Church of Scotland is a supporter of the Church of Bangladesh, and Martin has been asked to speak at various services and meetings during his stay. We aIl wish them a safe journey and hope that they have a happy and fulfilling time.

?Letter from BANGLADESH| 1+Letter from BANGLADESH

Warmest greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ from the Church of Bangladesh.

First of all let me give glory to God Almighty and express our deepest thanks and gratitude to Him for his abundant blessings on the life of our Church and on our country as a whole. There were many exciting things happened during last few months. Aiso things happened which were very sad and shocking.

On the 30th of November 2008 (St. Andrew's Day)

We ordained Deacons Bhanu Chisim and Promosh Chambugong to Priesthood and Jonarson Deo as deacon at our Panihata "Shanti-dham" Church. Panihata, in Haluaghat Deanery, is situated at the extreme border with lndia, which is unique for its natural beauty and we have been developing it as a Pilgrimage place. On the 29th, more than one thousand people from aIl parishes of the deanery gathered here for pilgrimage and prayer and on 30th attended the Ordination Service. This was a very special occasion for our Garo brothers and sisters because Bhanu, Promosh and Jonarshon are from the Garo tribe. There was a Reception with cultural programmes and a simple love feast organised for all. lt was a great day for us all.

On 14th December 2008:

We had another great celebration. We ordained Deacons Mritunjoy Mondai and Shanti Mondai to Priesthood at St. Peter's Church, Ratanpur in the Meherpur District under Kushtia Diocese. The Church was packed full for the Ordination Service. There was also a Reception and a love feast arranged after the service. Mritunjoy and Shanti are both from the area, so it was again a very special day for the Bollovpur deanery.

On 29th of December 2008:

We had our National Election to form a new Government, which we had been waiting for for more than two years. The country was on emergency and under a caretaker government after the incident which took place on 1st November 2006. However, as you know, the Awami League Party (headed by Begum Shaikh Hasina, daughter of the late Shaikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation) won the election with the highest majority seats to form the new Democratic Government. It was a very free and fair election we have ever had since independence. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), headed by Begum Khaleda Zia, and their alliance the Jamat-e-lslami Party, were defeated very badly, because of their involvement in crimes and corruption during the tenure of their reign. We now have a stable democratic government, but the devils are never at peace, they want to destroy peace and stability of the country.

January and February 2009:

These two are the months for our Revival Meetings. Four deaneries usually have four such big fellowship gatherings (we call it Baro Sava) to rejoice in the Lord for our life and witness in this land where the majority are Muslims. This is an annual event. This year we met at Haluaghat Deanery at a place called Katolmari. More than one thousand people attended the meeting from 5-8 January. Then we had the Bollovpur Deanery Baro Sava at Bollovpur. They call this meeting "Holy Wednesday Sava", because, about 109 years ago, sorne simple farmers received the Holy Spirit while praying in a church. This year, on 17 and 18 February, at Bollovpur, we also celebrated and rejoiced in the Lord for giving us the Spirit to live and witness Christ in this land. Bollovpur is a Christian village and about 2000 people were always there to sing and pray, to listen to the word of God and for the Holy Communion. Soon after that we gathered at Jobarpar Deanery from 19-22 February in a village called Dhamsor near Barisal, where the Oxford Mission fathers established the first Anglican Parish about 112 years ago. This year we took the opportunity and combined both Baro Sava and the Centenary Celebration together for financial reasons and also to have more people for the Baro Sava. On 20th we had the Centenary Celebration. We were all very happy and satisfied. We published a Souvenir with stories and histories of the parish, which was appreciated by all. We really had a wonderful time of prayer and fellowship together. The last Baro Sava (HELMEL in Santali) of Rajshahi Deanery was held in Khamarmaria from 27th February to 1st of March.

Rajshahi Deanery Meeting is mainly for the Santali congregations. It was again a wonderful occasion for the Santali brothers and sisters, because on 1st March Michael Soren, a Santali boy, was ordained as deacon.

We began the year 2009 with lots of hope and aspirations as a nation, because we have a new government to whom we have given a mandate for a change, change for a better life and a better future. But as I said at the beginning of this letter, the devils are also working round the clock to weaken the government and to destroy peace and stability of the country.

On the 25th February 2009 there was, ail of a sudden, a mutiny or a revolt in the BDRs (Bangladesh Rifles - the border Security Force of the country). This is an organisation under the Regular Army. It is said now that the BDRs had some grievances and complaints against their authorities, which were not that serious and could easily have been solved if they would have brought them to the knowledge of those responsible in the government. But, instead, at the instigation of some outside forces, they killed more than 120 very senior Army Officers, who were heads of various sectors, battalions or departments of BDRs. It was such a brutal and tragic incident, we never had such a cruel thing in the history of Bangladesh (although there was another such incident that took place on the 15th August 1975, when the Father of the Nation Shaikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members were brutally killed). This time they killed the Officers and buried them at night in mass graves in the BDR Headquarter campus. They threw some dead bodies into the sewers, which people found floating in the river next morning. It was really dreadful and shocking. They looted the homes of the Officers and mercilessly tortured their family members who were there. The government immediately called in the Army, the Rapid Action Battalion and the Police to help stop the killings. Luckily the Army was under control and did not enter the campus, otherwise it could have turned into a battle field. Because of the timely decision by the government, we were saved from an inevitable civil war and a clash between the Army and the BDRs. Different enquiry teams have now been formed, who are investigating. Many suspects have been taken into custody. Hopefully they will soon be able to find the criminals for trials and punishment.

There is one thing for sure, the scars, pains and sorrows of this tragic incident will remain in the minds of the soldiers in the Army and among the Jawans of the BDR for a long time, which is not a very healthy situation for a country like ours. On the other hand, we know for sure that time is a great healer. For us Christians we have HOPE because we believe in the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Kindly continue to remember us and our beloved nation in your prayers, please.

Bishop of Dhaka

? Letter from Behala| 1+Letter from Behala

Since Arijeet Roy’s death, the day-today running of the Oxford Mission at Barisha has been in the hands of a small sub-committee made up of Oxford Mission Trust Association Trustees: Mrs Krishna Rae, the Revd James Stevens and the Revd Sukhendu Biswas. Bishop Ashoke Biswas, Bishop of Kolkata and Chairman of the OMTA, is also very much involved. We are indebted to Reena Sen, Secretary and PA, Tarun Maity, Accountant, Timir Naru, Assistant Warden, and all members of staff at the Mission for their loyalty and support at this difficult time.

Dear Friends,

On December 26 2008, Arijeet Roy, Administrator at Behala for over 6 years, suddenly passed away in Bangalore after open heart surgery. He was greatly loved by ail of us here at Behala. He was a man of many talents, kindly and genial in nature. You will find tributes to this generous man elsewhere in this issue. Sincere condolences go to Kanchan his wife, daughter Jayshree, Amitesh his son, son and daughter-in law and grandchildren.

Douglass Hostel.
The renovation of this 2-storeyed building has been completed and the 8 - 10 year-old boys have moved back into their old dormitory. Mrs Haldar, our Nurse, is back home, as is the ENT clinic.

Mission Bus.
This is of 1976 vintage and, as the government is not allowing vehicles over 15 years old to ply the roads, we will have to sell it.

Oxford Mission Chapel.
Work will soon start on the Chapel, with the total renovation and replacement of the corrugated roof (it currently leaks like a colander!), a false ceiling, fresh marble for the altar floor, etc.

Fr Douglass' Hut.
This recently collapsed and has to be re-built. It is a small tiled roofed hut where, it seems, Father Frederick Douglass used to receive visitors to discuss Theology, Philosophy and all sorts of wonderful deep things. It is a part of Oxford Mission heritage and will be restored for the use of the boys of the hostel.

Admission to the Hostel. We have vacancies for 9 new boys in St Nicholas' Home. A large number of applications have been submitted to the office. A short list will be prepared and a house survey will be made to admit the most deserving boys from the months of May/June.

This is the time for examinations in all the schools where our boys study, so silence reigns as they get their heads down to revise in preparation for the final exams of the scholastic year. 7 boys are seeking places in high school and 3 boys have already sat their Final Government High School examinations.

New Television for the Hostel.
At long last, a new television has been purchased for the entertainment of the boys. This was inaugurated with one of the latest Bollywood film songs to loud clapping and cheering from the boys.

Sports Day.
February is a time for sports days all over West Bengal, and the Mission is no exception. All the boys entered into the day's proceedings with the greatest of gusto. There was a whole morning of races, and competition was fierce but all in good humour. The race by the service staff brought the loudest cheer!

Overseas Guests.
Mrs Anne Lancey, a relative of Brother Cyprian Cowgill, visited the Mission on 22 January 2009. She was shown her uncle's grave in the Mission Cemetery and was very impressed with the Mathieson Memorial Music Centre. Sister Anne Proudley, of the Community of St John the Baptist in the UK, visited the Mission on 15 March 2009 before leaving for Bangladesh.

St Joseph's Primary School.
This was founded in 1958 by Sister Esther SE to give Bengali Medium Education to the boys in the hostel and also in the vicinity of the Mission. We are very proud of the standard of education imparted from St Joseph's - it is reckoned to be one of the best primary schools in the area. What started off in a small way by Sister Esther has grown in the past 50 years to a total pupil strength of 450. The Golden Jubilee Celebrations were brought to a close on 19 January 2009 with an outdoor cultural programme presented by the children of the school to our new Bishop, the Rt Revd Ashoke Biswas, members of the Oxford Mission Trust and many former teachers and pupils of the school.

Music in the Mission.
The Woodwind Teaching project, proposed by Arijeet Roy, is just about to come into fruition. One of the former hostel boys, Sanjoy Bhowmick, has been appointed as Woodwind Teacher from 01 April 2009. Sanjoy left the Mission to join the Navy Band during Fr Mathieson's time. He is expert in flute, clarinet and oboe. Initially he will use his own instruments until we have purchased some of our own. Four boys will be taught in the first phase of this new music department.

Memorial Service for Arijeet Roy.

A Memorial Service was held in the Mission Cha pel on 03 February - 40 days after Arijeet's demise. The service was well attended by old and new boys, staff and friends, in fact, the Cha pel was full to overflowing. The Boy's Band played beautifully, and one of the boys paid tribute to Arijeet, as did Massima, Mrs Haldar, Mrs Krishna Rae, Members of the Trust and myself. The order of service was composed and conducted by the Revd Ranjit Banerjee, Chaplain, and the Revd Sukhendu Biswas, Trustee. The service was made more poignant by the presence of Arijeet's family.

Sincerely Yours

The Revd James G Stevens, OBE

Jobarpar and Barisal

Here comes more news from this part of the world. At the close of last year (2008), Father Francis had a letter from the Barisal Commissioner saying that, as the government means to take over all empty places, we must do something about this. At the compound in St Mary's Home there was a large empty place which we called Rakal's garden, where once Rakal lived. When he died it was empty again, however, when the Travencore Sisters came, they were given that place. They had wanted Sister Helen SE and Sister Ruth SE to go to Travencore to prepare their novices. The Sisters SE wanted them to come to Barisal and gave them Rakal's land for their chapel and living quarters. Their Father Superior, who knew a little English, sometimes joined the Epiphany Sisters and Fathers in their worship in the Epiphany Church.

When the novices, had been prepared, they went back to Travencore, so the place was empty again and became a jungle.

What were we to do with it then? A house was not desirable, as one end of the wall was near a public road. ln the end, it was decided to make it into a 'pukur' (pond) and grow fish there for the children.

We planned to have Tilappia, a fish cultivated in Thailand, as they multiply very quickly and are also tasty to eat. The Engineer employed eighty men to dig the pond with a four-foot high wall outside which, some day, will have strong trees.

Sister Dorothy, in charge of St Mary's Home, put 2,000 Tilappia nine inches in length into the pond to start the growth. It was good to see the fish shake themselves and swim away in their new home. We thank our friends who gave us the funds to make this pond with fish so that every third day the children will have a whole fish for their lunch. The children were happy, the fish were happy - and so was Richard Stevens, who also put some fishlings into the pond.

Richard Stevens, a Councillor from Hastings, is a friend of our Community. He has visited us five times, and next year hopes to come again with Jackie his wife. We had a simple tea party for him when he visited Jobarpar, and one of the women who came asked if he was the King of England! He enjoyed his short stay at Jobarpar in our guest-house, and had a big blow-up 'basher' to hit ail the mosquitoes and anything else he could! It is made of plastic, and it was amusing to ail when he bashed our village Priest on his head! In a day or two he goes back to Dhaka and then to the VK. Will he take his basher with him and will it be such a success there as it has been here?! The children are busy with exams now, and soon it will be a break for Easter. Those who live close by will go home and the others will remain with us here. They will have real hard-boiled eggs hidden in the garden and round the Chapel which they will have to find (one each only). The Auditors are here, and on Easter Day they join in the search for the eggs and will greatly enjoy the fun instead of auditing accounts ail day.

We wish all our readers a Happy and Blessed Easter.

Mother Susila
Superior, CSS

?Letter from Barisal| 1+Letter from Barisal

Dear Readers,

Death Anniversary of Father Rigby.
Father Rigby was the founder of Oxford Mission (OM) High School, and on 21 September, his death anniversary was observed in the OM High School hall. Father Rigby's picture was garlanded and candles placed in front of it. Three scriptures were read by the children and Revd Robin MondaI, the priest of St Peter's Church, BarisaI, prayed. After songs by the boys and girls, one of the teachers described the life and activities of Father Rigby, and Mr James Malakar and Mr TK Byapari, who are committee members and former students of Father Rigby, spoke of their happy memories of Father Rigby. At the end of the function, there was prize-giving. Bangladesh Literacy Centre regularly donates some books for the school library, and they hold an annual examination to make sure the children are reading the books. Those who were first, second and third in different classes were given books as prizes.

St Michael's Day, 29 September.
The inmates of St Michael's hostel observed with enthusiasm their special day. It began with sung Eucharist, and the morning was spent cleaning the compound, tidying their beds and decorating the dormitories. In the afternoon, they drew pictures and carefully put them on the dormitory walls. In the evening, guests came and looked at the three dormitories, and during the grand supper that followed, it was announced that the big boys had secured third position, the middle boys second position and the little boys first position, for which they were all given prizes. During supper, all were entertained with songs, a dance and a recitation by the boys, and there were also speeches by the guests.

Art Competition, St Michael's hostel, 06 October.
Owing to torrential rain, no boys could go outside to draw the scenery, so nearly aIl the boys sat in the dining-room and copied the pictures on the waIls. Only a few boys, together with three competitors from St Clare's college hostel and a teacher from St Agnes's hoste!, drew pictures from their own imagination. Prizes were given to the winners.

Death of Peter Bala.
We are deeply grieved with the sad death of Peter BaIa, our Mission day-guard, who had been with us for six years. He died suddenly of a stroke on 21 October, despite being rushed to the Medical College Hospital. His body was brought back and placed at the back of the Epiphany Church. Later it was bathed and dressed ready for buriaI, and a coffin was made in our own carpenter's place. We ask for your prayers for Peter's soul. He has left a little girl of eight years and a wife, who was the cook in St Clare's hostel. She is now working in St Agnes's hostel. Please pray for Peter's wife, his child and his other relatives whom he has left behind.

All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
This year, on the first of November, the Sisters, Father and priest observed All Saints Day with a Mass. The children were not invited to attend due to the pressure of their annual examinations, so they had a Mass of All Saints on the morning of 02 November. On the afternoon of that day, a service for All Souls began in the Epiphany Church, and included a procession to the OM cemetery, where the service was completed. Many people had decorated the graves of their relatives with candles, incense-sticks, flowers and coloured paper. Candles were also on the graves of the departed Fathers and Sisters. The people stayed near their relatives' graves, singing hymns, until late evening.

Visitors from the UK OM Committee.
On 13 November, Mrs Mary Marsh (General Secretary) and Miss Pam Walton (Editor, OM News) arrived in BarisaI, and, that evening, the Pre-Christmas celebration was heId in St Michael's Hostel. They invited many guests, including Mary and Pam. After Mother Susila, Mary and Pam cut a Christmas cake, the boys performed a Nativity play, songs and dances, interspersed with the exchange of gifts. At the end, the boys had a festive supper with their guests and short speeches were made by some of the guests. Each guest was given a Christmas card and wished a happy Christmas. After their guests had departed, the boys had a campfire outside,

Pre-Christmas in St Mary's.
This was celebrated by the girls and staff on 14 November. They performed a Nativity play, songs and dances, and each girl and guest was given a Christmas gift. Mary and Pam were present, as also was Mother Susila. The performances were followed by a festive lunch, and after the meal, everyone spoke of their appreciation of everything.

Fellowship Tea.
On 15 November, the manager arranged a tea-party in the central hall in honour of Mary and Pam. Nearly all the committee members, Mother Susila, the CSS Sisters, the heads of departments and Father Francis were present. There were speeches of welcome, a dance and a song, and flowers for the guests. Our two visitors from abroad were also given presents from the OM.

Other Visits.
During their visit to OM Barisal, our two guests went to every department with Mother Susila and the manager. They were warmly welcomed by every section. They also were very happy and grateful, and gave their greetings to us. On Sunday 16 November, after breakfast, Mary and Pam left for Jobarpar with Mother Susila, and returned on 19 November before lunch. They visited St Clare's (the college girls' hostel) and took lunch with the girls. On 20 November they left for Dhaka after breakfast.

St Agnes's Closing Function, 01 December.
In 2008, there was a general election in December, so the government ordered that examinations should be finished before December, and therefore schools closed a little earlier than usual. This also affected our hostels.

On 01 December, the St Agnes's girls had a concert, which consisted of songs, dances and a Nativity play. This was followed by Christmas gifts for everyone who was there (and those who had been invited but could not come were also presented with gifts afterwards). Then followed a festive lunch, with short speeches and jokes. Mother Susila was there, and expressed her Christmas good wishes to everyone.

Old People's Party.
On the morning of 03 December there was an old people's party in the OM Primary School hall, organised by the Self-Help Project (the first time they had organised such a gathering).

Florence Sarker, the manager of the Project, addressed the gathering, and all those present were given flowers. Then followed a Bible passage, Deuteronomy 32: 7, and the Revd Sudotta Boidya spoke of the importance of old people in society. This was followed by a prayer from Mother Susila. Everyone was then given refreshments, and also a partner, and sports games then followed: passing the pillow, toffee race, and breaking a cheap earthenware pot blindfolded. Prizes were given to the winners and everyone received Christmas gifts shawls, soap and toiletries. The party ended with a festive lunch, and the old people had a lot of joy.

Estate Workers' Meeting, 18 December.
The meeting opened with a prayer, a hymn and a Bible-reading, followed by the reading of the estate rules, and questions (which went on for some time). Then the manager wished everyone a happy Christmas, and packets of goodies were given out. After this, first the women, and then the men, went to the office for Christmas money gifts. They also went to the Self-Help office for gifts of clothes, on the occasion of Christmas.

Epiphany Day, 06 January.
The day began with a High Mass in the Epiphany Church at 08.00 a.m. After that, some people, including six people from other denominations, were invited to breakfast in the Sisters' house, while ail the others who had been to the service were given packets of goodies to take away.

Later, there were two lunch parties, one in the Mission workers' area and another on the veranda of St Anne's clinic (the clinic being closed for the day). The cooking was shared by some of the Mission workers themselves. These parties were enjoyed very much in both places.

New Admissions.
In this country, the school year is January to December, so the new girls and boys for St Agnes's and St Michael's hostels came on 06 January and sat for the admission test in OM High School on 07 January. Most of them were allowed admission. The boys and girls who were re-joining after the Christmas holidays came back gradually on 08, 09 and 10 January.

St Agnes's Day, 21 January.
St Agnes's Day was observed, and also the welcoming of new girls took place in the hostel. The new girls were given flowers. Some little boys from St Michael's and some of the teachers from St Michael's hostel were invited to enjoy the play depicting the life of St Agnes.

New Admissions to 5t Michael's Hostel, 22 January.
The new boys were welcomed with paper garlands. The aim of this reception is to introduce the newcomers to older pupils, so that friendships are formed, and so that they can adjust more easily to their new environment. The reception ended with a speech and a short concert.

New Accountant.
On 05 February, our new accountant, Mr Pradip Majumdar, together with his wife, two children and their maid, came to !ive on the compound, having been transferred from the Kushtia diocesan office. Dilip, the previous accountant, will be helping the manager with different assignments. At present, for two or three months, he will be giving training to his successor. Mr Majumdar officially started his work on 09 February, prior to which, in the morning, there was a short meeting in the central hall, arranged by the manager. The heads of departments had been invited to this. The departing accountant was thanked and given flowers, and then the new accountant was introduced, welcomed and given flowers, after which we all had tea. Dilip took Mr Majumdar round the departments and introduced the heads of the departments to him. On 10 and 11 February, Dilip handed over the account papers to Mr Majumdar.

The Digging of a Pond, 09 February.
The area chosen for this was in an uncultivated part of St Mary's garden.

The garden is a solitary place, there are no houses in or around it, and it is therefore easy for miscreants to climb over the wall and steal things. To prevent this happening, it was decided to build a pond, which would be used for cultivating fish for the St Mary's girls, and the earth dug up would be used for raising the vegetable plots. So, on 09 February, a team of workmen arrived. At the same time, a group of guests, as well as Mother Susila and the Sisters, came to witness the start of the work At the request of the Sisters, the manager said a prayer for God's blessing on the work Then four people, including Mother Susila, ceremoniously broke the ground, and all the workmen and guests were given sweets, after which the work began. An engineer was supervising this work.

11 February, Primary School Sports.
These began with the arrival of the O.M. High School headmaster, our local councillor, and the manager, followed by a song and dance of welcome by the children. All the special guests were welcomed with flowers. The national flag was hoisted, the national anthem was sung, and there was a march-past, followed by dances from the children. Then came a series of races for all the classes, according to their age, followed by three competitions - skipping, memory test and arithmetic test. After these came a fancy dress competition.

The chief guest and other guests gave prizes for each event (1st, 2nd and 3rd), except for the fancy dress, for which six prizes were given. The councillor gave a short speech in which he not only congratulated those who had won prizes, but also encouraged those who had not, and thanked everyone. Finally the special guests were entertained to tea at the end of the sports. S.C.M. (Student Christian Movement). The general committee meeting was held in the Golding Hall, on the boys' side of the compound, with an election for the committee. They gave their financial statement and the statement of their activities with successes and failures for the last year. After discussing these, the meeting ended with tea. Girls' Farewell in St. Agnes's Hostel. In the evening, the 16 St Agnes's girls who were taking the School Final Exam were given an entertainment by the girls of Standard 7 on behalf of all the other girls of the different Standards. There were also many invitees. The manager, with a short talk, encouraged the girls not to be afraid, but to remember that Jesus is always with them to help. In this way they would take their exams serenely and obtain good results.

The departing girls were then given presents, and they gave a present to the hostel as their symbol of love and memory. We hope that some of them will come back here to stay in St. Clare's hostel for higher studies.

OM High School Sports,12February.
The chairman of the higher secondary education board, Barisal, was in the chair. After the hoisting of three flags and the national anthem, there were three readings , each one from a religious scripture. The Scout leader then asked the chairman's permission to start the march- past, which was in this order: OM High School girls, OM High School Boys, Guides, Scouts, and the band. The chief guest then spoke over the microphone. Gas balloons were released and there was a return march. The Scout leader asked the permission of the chief guest to start the sports. A group of girls and boys gave a Mexican wave (as at the Olympic Games), and a dance. There was a series of races, throwing the javelin, throwing the discus, shot-putt, jumps, musical chairs, etc. The chief guest gave a short speech in which he said that everyone should observe discipline when taking part in the sports and that skill in sports and fine arts can even lead on to careers. He specially wants to encourage those in Barisal district. "Passing the ball" for the mothers was followed by the children's fancy dress competition and the prize-giving. The hostel boys and girls won a great many of the prizes.

Estate Workers' Picnic, 15 February.

At 11.00 p.m., a party of 73 people, consisting of our estate workers and some of their family members, set off by coach for an excursion-cum-annual picnic in Mujibnagar and other places near it. Mujibnagar is in Meherpur district, right by the Indian border (on the west border of Bangladesh) and is a historical place where the first government of Bangladesh was formed.

Our first stop was at Meherpur town, at the Church of Bangladesh Social Development Project compound at about 06.30 a.m. We washed and had a nice breakfast, arranged by the manager and the staff members, after which we set off for Mujibnagar. On arrivai, we got out and looked round.

There is a big mango orchard, and by the side of it a semi-circular two storey building is under construction, as also are a cement map of Bangladesh on the ground in front of the building, and a sculpture to one side of the same building. From there we went to Bollobhpur Mission corn pound.

We visited the church, the hospital, the school and the hostel, and went to Meherpur for lunch. After a good lunch we had free time, during which some people walked round the flower garden of the CBSDP and, nearby, the mission compound. Many others went to the shopping centre of the town. At 5.00 p.m. we started back, and arrived back in Barisal after one o'clock at night. Our estate workers, who are not very rich, had had the opportunity to see the first seat of the Bangladeshi government. They had enjoyed the tour too.

The Jobarpar Deanery Annual Religious Revival Meeting and the 112th anniversary of St Paul's Church, Dhamsar, 20 and 21 February.
Twelve years ago, the parish of St Paul's Church, Dhamsar, attained its centenary. This was never celebrated, so this time we celebrated the centenary at 11.00 a.m. on the morning of the 20th. Bishop Baroi unveiled a tablet commemorating the centenary, then 112 candles were lit in front of the church, near the tablet. We then heard about the history of St Paul's Church, Dhamsar, induding the lives of the priests and other devoted workers there in the pasto The theme of the revival meeting was a part of Romans 12:2 - "Be transformed by the renewal of your mind ...” There were six sessions, as follows:

Text Preacher
Romans 12:2 Bishop Baroi, retired Moderator
Ephesians 5:15 Pastor Robinson Mondal
Joshua 24:15 The Moderator, Bishop Paul S Sarkar
Psalms 34:8 Revd Hemen Haldar
Revelation 3:20 Bishop B D Mondal,retired Moderator
2 Corinthians 9:7 Revd Stephen A. Mondal

The last session was about giving for God's work Many people came forward with offerings for blessings received. At the same time, requests for prayer were made. Some sick people came forward, and a group of elders and the priest placed their hands on the sick people's heads and prayed for them.

Confirmation, 22 February.
Seven boys and eighteen girls from our hostels were confirmed in the first half of the Eucharist. Bishop Baroi officiated. His sermon was on three points, he advised the candidates to be prayerful, humble and thankful. Some of the parents were present.

The Bishop, the candidates and the guardians were invited to lunch in St. Agnes's. The Bishop was also invited to supper with the St. Michael's boys.

Ash Wednesday.
In the morning, before the Holy Communion service, we were aIl marked on our foreheads with ashes. There were also two additional penitential services for the hostel boys and girls at 10.00 a.m. and 02.00 p.m.

The Opening of St. Mary's New Pond, 08 March.
The digging of the pond is now finished , and there was an opening ceremony of the new pond.

Blessing the new pond
There were hymns, prayers, and a procession round the pond. All the St. Mary's girls, the Sisters and a number of guests were invited by Mother Susila. Some young fishes were released into the pond.

The Compound.
I should like to end this report with a short description of our compound (estate). Our Oxford Mission is in the heart of Barisal district city, and we have a big compound of nearly 17 acres of land. If you come in by the main gate, you will find the Church of the Epiphany immediately on your left. It is a large red-brick church, and is beautiful outside and inside. On the roof it has two crosses which can be seen from far off. To your left, beyond the church, you will find a big playing-field, and beyond that the OM High School (co-ed) and St Michael's hostel (boys only). If you return to the main gate and turn right, you will find a far greater number of institutions; but first you will find the three departments of the OM manager's office: the cash department, the manager's assistant's department and the manager's department. These, together with a guest-room, are on the ground floor of a two-storey building; upstairs is the manager's flat. Between this building and the central hall is a narrow path leading (through the kitchen garden) to the O.M. Primary School. Continue your walk in front of (or through, if you prefer,) the central hall, and you will come to a junction of paths. If you turn right, you will see the Social Department, St Anne's cIinic and St Clare's hostel for college girls, and by another approach, the Primary School. If you go straight on from the junction, you will pass the Sisters' house on the left, and then find yourself in the grounds of St Mary's Home, which is in the care of the Sisters. To see St Agnes's hostel, you would have to come back along the path by which you came, and turn right at another junction. St Agnes's hostel houses are grouped round a field, smaller than the boys' field, because the girls don't play football, but it is big enough for their games. Finally, I must mention two groups of family houses for our mission workers. They can only be approached by crossing the boys' field. It is only a short walk to one of them, but to reach the other you must go down by Father Francis's house and then turn right and walk through the churchyard. In the next issue, we are looking forward to telling you something about our mission workers' families.

We hope that our readers will be patient with us, because this report has been more or less the same as that of one year ago. We have tried to vary it as far as possible, but the variations can only be slight, because this is an organisational report, with the same pattern of functions, identical to the other years. It will be interesting for the new readers, but not so interesting for the old readers. That is all for this time,

Yours in Christ,

Manager, OM Barisal

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