LETTER from BEHALA
Greetings from the Oxford Mission family, Behala. It always gives me great pleasure to write for the News Magazine, whereby I can keep you informed of our varied activities, and of our plans for developments for the betterment of the people, and also to fortify the financial position of the Mission. Before I write any further, I would like to inform you that each and every one at the Oxford Mission feels the absence of Sister Florence, who went to the Lord on 17th April 2004 at 10.45 a.m.
'A bright light that illuminated the Mission was taken away from us'. Nevertheless we shall continue to march on with her mission to poor children. The little ones at St. Nicholas's Hostel miss her very much, as Sister took special interest in them and gave them candies every Sunday after Chapel service.
The funeral was held on 18th April 2004 at the Oxford Mission cemetery. Mother Susila with five of her Sisters from Bangladesh came to participate in this solemn occasion, and we were all delighted to have her and her Sisters amidst us. Thank you, Mother! Thank you, Sisters! The Rt. Revd. P. S. Raju led the funeral service, with Bishop Malakar and other priests. There were about 250 people attending the service and burial. Representatives from the British High Commission were present, and a touching letter was sent to me by Mr. Andrew Hall, Deputy British High Commissioner, condoling with us on the death of a real loving missionary, and saying that we would continue her work. 'May Sister Florence's soul rest in peace and rise in glory.' CDs of the service are with Oxford Missiop, U.K. (address p.2.)
My wife Kanchan and I would like to take this opportunity of thanking each one of the Oxford Mission U.K. Committee for their kind hospitality, love and caring during our recent visit to the U.K. We enjoyed every moment of our stay, and we enjoyed the Festival Service and Meeting. We were touched by all the kind words spoken by everyone, and we were delighted to meet them. It was delightful too to speak in a few churches about the O.M., and I was overwhelmed by the positive response of the congregations, Rectors and members of the churches. Thank you all! We look forward to your support for our Mission.
My thanks for the very hard work and wonderful arrangements made by John, Mary, Gill and the rest of the U.K. Committee members, and in general all the donors, supporters, well-wishers and friends of the Oxford Mission. I sincerely hope that I put across in words the work and progress of the O.M. at places where I spoke. It was great all the way! Our gratitude once again to all. I thank all who put us up so comfortably in their homes.
Kanchan and I were privileged to meet the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd. Rowan Williams, at Lambeth Palace: and also Mother Winifred S.E., at the Community of All Hallows, Bungay, Suffolk. Both were memorable meetings. I thank the U.K. Committee for making this arrangement for us.
Work This year two boys passed the Madhyamik Examination and are admitted into College. Three of our boys were sent to the Navy Band Exam and all qualified. They are in training in Mumbai. The other day they came to see me at the Oxford Mission, as they were on holiday for a fortnight. They looked 'bright and brilliant' - all credit to them, and to the staff of a.M. Behala, who work diligently to bring up every boy from the age of 5 years.
Our boys performed in the Monsoon Concert at the Kolkata School of Music on 21st August. Sanjib and Ananta put their souls into the boys' playing. We have the pleasure of having Manab Naskar with us at this time - he was brushing up the cellists. Thanks, Manab! He will be returning to Glasgow in October to complete his music degree. I am very proud of him.
The Epiphany Hostel is doing well. A few of the boys have left as they have got a chance to work in places outside Bengal. They are doing well. I am sure the rest of them will get something worth-while in the near future. Rana Robert Gomes appeared for an interview for a Music Teacher's job in Dubai. The interviewers were quite interested in him. Let's keep our fingers crossed, he may make it!
The Band Room as usual booms - now with the practice for the Monsoon Concert. The boys are immersed in music. We would do better if some foreign violin, viola and cello could be procured. On 20lh August 2004 they had the Music Camp and played all day in the Band Room.
On 4th September 2004 is our 51st Aquatic Meet. The Chief Guest will be the Rt. Revd. P. S. P. Raju, Bishop of Kolkata and Chairman O.M.T.A. He has kindly consented to be with us to encourage our boys. As you all know, the 'Water Sports' is a big day for O.M. in our lovely huge tank.
The Vocational Training boys are doing well. Our Chairman is taking enormous interest in upgrading the Industrial School with instructors recognised by the Government. He has asked me to undertake a project with appropriate experts in this field, so that we could get more useful courses which would be beneficial for our boys when they pass out from I.S.O.M. At the moment they are getting experience in manufacturing steel tables, chairs, beds, cupboards, music-stands, etc. and are also being trained as electricians and carpenters. All this was done at the instance of our Chairman - and his vision and mission - we thank him immensely.
On 15th August we Hoisted the Flag (57th year of Independence). The boys played the National Anthem with violin and viola and the junior boys sang patriotic songs. It was a lovely day; many outsiders came for this flag-hoisting ceremony and commended highly the performance of our boys. Thereafter a Fellowship Tea was arranged where boys, staff and their families had tea, sweet (jalebi) and salted stuff. They all enjoyed interacting and acting' A Time to Meet Each Other'. Then they went out in the grounds to fly kites. 'Lovely Golden Boys'.
Before I end, I take the opportunity to thank everyone for your love and guidance. It would not have been possible to do anything without the guidance and support of the O.M. U.K. Committee, O.M.T.A., Consultative Committee, donors, supporters, well-wishers, friends of the Oxford Mission, my staff and their hard work, my boys for their discipline, and local friends in Barisha for their support.
Please pray for us.
ARIJEET ROY, Administrator
19th August, 2004