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News of our work India & Bangladesh November 2007 - April 2008

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David Johnson, recently retired headmaster of Romsey Abbey Primary School and a Church Warden of Romsey Abbey, describes his visits to Behala.

I first visited the Oxford Mission in Calcutta (as it was then) in 1989. Neil, the Vicar of Romsey Abbey, had said to me “make sure that you go and see them”. I was under orders!

So, on a hot steamy August Sunday afternoon, I set off with a driver kindly provided by my friend Robin Sen Gupta. It took us a long time to find our way, there was much shouting and gesticulating, none of which I understood. Finally we were there and we were admitted by the man at the gate. I was ushered upstairs to Father Theodore’s bedroom where he was resting under a mosquito net. He rose and welcomed me.

I was conducted all around the compound, and at a distance we were followed by the driver. Gradually, it was as though the Pied Piper was playing his pipe, as little boys began to follow us and engage Father Theodore in conversation. My driver reported back to Robin about this wonderful old man who was working with all these boys and they all loved him.

After afternoon tea (honey and toast of course), I was taken to Evensong in the Chapel, where I encountered the string orchestra and I understood why I had spent so much time in the orchestra room.

So when I was back in Kolkata in January of this year, I went to the Mission again. Robin now lives just round the corner, so the journey was easy. No Father to greet me, but what joy to see the new building and the little boys. Everyone else was out because it was holiday time. I was welcomed by Arijeet Roy and I took a photograph of the boys and the MMMC.

What another joy it was to welcome into Romsey Abbey on the 07 October for our Harvest Festival Service Manab Naskar, who played his cello and who was almost certainly in the crowd of little boys who I saw in 1989.

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