LETTER from BARISAL
I am glad to give a short account of the activities in OM Barisal during the past six months:
Womens Seminar on 11 October, 2005 Theme: O Lord, change your world The seminar began at 10.30 a.m. with opening prayer and a hymn. An introductory talk was given by Mrs. B. Byapari. The Revd. L. D. Kirtonia, parish priest, gave a lecture on the theme. There were another two lectures, first, on the changes we need in the family, and secondly, on AIDS, by a social worker. The seminar was very useful for the families.
A Sunday School Day was observed on 11 November. A total of 62 boys and girls attended. A talk was given by the Revd. L. D. Kirtonia on the theme, Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God (Luke 18: 16). There was singing of hymns accompanied by talks. The children were divided into five groups, each with a leader, for answering questions: in one session the small children coloured pictures. After the lunch break there was a cultural function, and soon after the tiffin break a Brigade teacher, Shoba Di, took a session on the Boys and Girls Brigades. It was a nice, enjoyable day for the Sunday School children on the Oxford Mission compound.
St. Michaels Boys Hostel The pre-Christmas celebration was held in the evening, out-of-doors. There was a line of trees in tubs, decorated with fairy-lights. First there was a cultural function consisting of songs, dances, a play, and cake-cutting and distribution, then gifts were given to everyone by Father Christmas, an old pupil of the school. Then all of us went in to the boys dining-room and had supper with them.
St. Marys Home pre-Christmas party was on 2 December at 11.30 a.m. and began with a cultural function, with singing, poetry and a play. Then gifts (clothes) were given to all the children, and other gifts to the guests, followed by lunch.
On 9 December St. Peters Youth function was held at .30 p.m. in the OM Primary School hall. A prayer was followed by songs, cake-cutting and distribution, dances and exchange of gifts. There were packets of food to take away.
On 12 December Bishop Michael Baroi and Mrs. Baroi visited the Womens Self-Help Project. First the special guests were welcomed with flowers, and the little girls performed a dance. Then there were speeches by the special guests to the rest, and one beneficiary described how she had been helped by the Project. Gifts were given out, and we then went into the Primary School hall for lunch.
The marks of the Annual Examination for the Primary School children were read out on 13 December in a function in the school hall; nearly 99% of children were successful in the exam. It was an exciting day for the children and guardians.
At 5 p.m. on 16 December we had a small prayer meeting for Lucy Holts 75th birthday (Lucy is a former Novice of the Sisterhood of th Epiphany), at which nine of us were present. This was followed by tea and biscuits, and presents were given to Sister Lucy. The functions took place in the common hall.
21 January, 2006 was St. Agnes Day, which began with Sung Eucharist for the girls and teachers of St. Agnes Hostel. At 11 a.m. there was a concert, which included a play depicting the life-story of St. Agnes. At 1 p.m. there was an excellent lunch for the girls and their guests.
The Primary School Sports were held on 1 February. The three VIP guests, the Revd. D. L. Kirtonia, Mr. T. K. Byapari and the Revd. Monoroma, were welcomed and given badges (rosettes) and flowers. The two CSS Sisters came and were also given badges and flowers. The flag was then hoisted and the National Anthem sung. Mr. Byapari, being the chief guest, spoke a few words over the microphone to open the sports, and a group of children sang an action song. There were a number of races: a sack race, race with plate on head, bob-sweet race, spoon-race, potato race, and a duck race (walking like ducks). There was a fancy-dress competition, cock-fighting by boys, a doing sums race, frog-jumping etc., all very interesting and exciting to the children and guests. The 8th March was International Womens Day. The Self Help Project (social department) arranged a seminar for the women of their credit groups. This began with a talk by Mrs. Gita, a staff member, on womens rights, and Sister Lucy continued it. The participants were given refreshments on arrival, and a cooked lunch before they went home.
On the same day Mr. Nirmol Roy, who had served the OM as an Office Messenger for 45 years, passed away. The funeral was attended by many relatives and other people who had known him, including the sister, father, and the people from the OM.
On 24 March, in the early evening, St. Agnes Hostel had a Farewell Function for those who would be leaving after completing their school Final Examination. We hope they will return here to S. Clares College Hostel and take their Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) in College, but this depend on their examination results. However even if they return as college students, they will be absent from us for at least three months. Guests were present including the CSS Sisters; there were speeches, songs and dances, and at the end the school-leavers were given presents. Then all the girls were given sweets, and the guests were invited to tea in the Wardens office.
The Inter-Church Revival Meeting was held at the Baptist Church on 31 March. The theme was Watch and pray, that you do not fall into temptation (Luke 14:3). The service consisted of sermons and prayers, and many hymns were sung relating to the theme. There were also prayers with an opportunity to ask for the prayers of the congregation. The service went on until 1 p.m. and was followed by a simple lunch party -simple because of Lent. About 400 people had been invited and most of them came.
The Confirmation was on 2 April. On the eve of the Confirmation the Bishop arrived, and in the evening examined the confirmation candidates (32 young people, some from the Parish Church and some from our Hostels). The Confirmation itself took place during the Eucharist in the Epiphany Church, beginning at 7 a.m. The candidates were given lighted candles after the Confirmation. The Bishop in his sermon spoke of the temptations of Our Lord. He exhorted the candidates to pray and read the Bible faithfully, so that they could overcome temptation. Our practice in the Church of Bangladesh is for the Bishop, priests and elites of the Church to welcome the newly-confirmed to the Church as full members. At the Communion, the newly-confirmed communicated first. After the service they were given flowers, and photographed with the Bishop.
The St. Agnes Hostel girls had a function at 11.30 a.m. to which the Bishop and his wife, the parish priest, Father Francis, the Sisters of the CSS, the Manager and his wife, and Sister Lucy were invited. This was followed by a lunch-party for all the girls, with the same guests.
In the evening the boys of St. Michaels Hostel had a supper-party to which the Bishop and his wife, the Manager and his wife, Miss. Florence Sarkar (Manager of the Social Department of the Self-Help Project), Sister Lucy, and mission workers came. There were short speeches by the guests and songs and dances by some of the boys during the party.
The Bishop presented the newly-confirmed boys with crosses to wear. Finally we were told about a marathon race competition, and the names of the winners were read out. The first prize winner was given a crest and flowers by the Bishop, and the second a crest and flowers by Mr. Michael Khokon Biswas, a neighbour. The other prize winners received medals from Miss Florence Sarkar.
I thank God for the opportunity to give my short report for the six months up to April, 2006. I am thankful to my Bishop and to the Management Committee members who helped me, by their advice, to run the above activities in OM Barisal. thank the members of the Committee in the UK for their help, prayer and concern for us. Please continue to pray. We do pray for you.
T. K. BYAPARI
Manager, OM Barisal