THE CHAIRMAN'S REPORT
Visit to India and Bangladesh, February 2005
I stayed first for three nights in Delhi with old friends from my days in India, and took the opportunity to talk to Father Ian Weathrall, Head of the Brotherhood of the Ascended Christ there. He is very well-informed on affairs at Behala, since he is an ex-officio member of the Oxford Mission Trust Association.
The traffic in Delhi has increased beyond all belief, and threatens to rival that of Kolkata in lack of discipline. One interesting development for me was the easy availability these days of South Indian food - my favourite.
My flight to Kolkata was disrupted as during the flight the landing lights at Kolkata went out of order. We had to be diverted to Bubaneshwar, and finally arrived at Kolkata five hours late. Arijeet Roy and his wife had kindly waited all that time to greet me.
The situation at Behala is good, thanks to the strong management of Arijeet Roy. More needs to be spent on the upkeep of the buildings, but the boys seem well-fed and happy. Some changes have been necessary. The Pinn School has closed as it is no longer needed; the boys all go now to Government schools. The Industrial School will close next November, to be replaced by vocational courses for the boys more in tune with today's work opportunities.
The Music Department carries on well, and Ananta Makhal is still starting the small boys off with his amazing skill. Once more several leaving boys were taken on by the Indian Navy Band - an excellent career.
I attended Morning Service in the Cathedral, which lasted nearly two hours, and was warmly embraced by the Bishop who invited me to coffee. I also called on the British Deputy High Commissioner, Dr. Andrew Hall, who knew about the Oxford Mission due to the publicity given to the death of Sister Florence S.E. last year, but otherwise knew little of our activities: I invited him to visit us.
I moved on to Bangladesh, spending one night in Dhaka and then flying on in the little plane to Barisal. There I caught up with Mary Marsh, who had gone ahead of me. Mother Susila seemed to me on very good form but her health, and the succession to the leadership of the Christa Sevika Sangha, give cause for concern. Father Francis S.P .B. conducted a very good service in the Chapel on Sunday morning, and has attracted a new Postulant, Joel, into St. Paul's Brotherhood. The new Administrator, Mr. Byapari, had a list of problems mostly requiring some expenditure to solve, and we had to explain the rather tight financial situation in which we find ourselves. But we will do our best.
Bishop Dwijen Mondal, now retired, is very friendly to the Mission and often visits Jobarpar. His successor, Bishop Michael Baroi, is enthusiastic, and pleased with everything that is going on.
The C.S.S. compound at Jobarpar was as lovely as ever, and is run very well by the Sevikas when Mother Susila has to be at Barisal. The road from Barisal to Jobarpar is the worst I have ever travelled on.
|Annual Sports Meet: Tug-of-War for visitors and staff||The Biscuit Race|
|The Chairmans team, captained by Caroline,
took on the General Secretarys team it was a draw
|The Chairman gave out the prizes|