Letter from Behala
Greetings from the Oxford Mission Family, Behala, Kolkata.
We are in the midst of the monsoon. Heavy and light showers visit frequently and cool down the atmosphere. There is greenery all around Bengal. The good old huge trees like a fresh green canopy over all. There are plenty of birds, mongoose and insects, and lizards are having a gala time. Not forgetting the mosquitoes!
It is 1 p.m. I have just completed part of my work, and have come up to my quarter to write this to you. It has always been a joy to me to let you all know of the happenings at the Oxford Mission, which you have been nurturing since 1880. What a glorious feat, and what a godly act! We all salute you for caring for the Mission and sharing everything with us.
They are doing fine. Their results were up to the mark: except for just a couple of boys all have passed their exams. They are picking up Spoken English as we have a special tutor for them. The English language is a MUST if one wants to get good jobs anywhere.
Six passed the High School exam and have been admitted to Higher Secondary. They are very popular in the school and also in the Behala area for their talent in drama, music, skits, sports and debating. Very often they are invited by the Leprosy Mission, by churches, schools and homes to go and play music. Everyone has good things to say about them. Thanks to all of you for your support, love, care and concern for them.
The Aquatic Sports were held on 25 August. It was a wonderful clear, rainless day. The boys exhibited their talents, and all who attended (about 500 people) encouraged them and enjoyed themselves. People from various local clubs, schools, the Salvation Army and many others attended. Unfortunately Bishop Raju could not be there due to sudden urgent work cropping up. He sent a very touching message to the boys through the Revd. Ashoke Biswas, who kindly consented to be the Chief Guest. Boys received useful prizes and were very happy.
St. Nicholass Home
Thirty-one boys between the ages of five and six are enjoying their stay at St. Nicks. They are now on the Fathers side of the road, and are relishing the comfort and quietness of the new place. They will have a nice garden after the Mathieson Memorial Music Centre is completed - hopefully by the end of November this year. The boys are poor but bright. They have adjusted to life at St. Josephs Primary School and are doing well. The three Mashis (matrons) are taking good care of them, just as a mother would.
Mathieson Memorial Music Centre
At long last our dream is coming true. The progress of work is good, and we expect to have it completed by the end of November 2006. It will be a beautiful Hall of Music under the old tree by the previous Band Room, where Father Mathieson gave music lessons to the boys who grew up to be good musicians. Father Mathieson himself played and practised the cello under this wonderful big tree.
Bishop Raju took a great interest in having this hall built at the earliest possible moment, and left no stone unturned to see that the work went on smoothly and speedily. His advice I always seek, and in spite of his busy schedule he spares time to discuss the matter with the architect, the contractors, and myself. We praise and thank the good Lord for Bishop Rajus enthusiasm and vision for the MMMC.
Sanjib Mondal and Anant Makhal have already started to train the boys for a special Concert that they present on the day the Hall is inaugurated. We intend to provide waistcoats and bow ties for the musicians, and I have ordered a sample for approval.
We are still on the lookout for a good developer for the vacant land on the Sisterhood side of the OM compound. But before we get started the property papers, taxes and change of use of the bulk of the land have to be dealt with, and we are working on this. Regarding the former Industrial School of the OM (ISOM), we have invited various experts through the Director of the Kolkata Urban Service, Mr. Stephen Gonsalves, who is also one of the Trustees of the OM Trust Association. He has enormous knowledge as to how to go about this, and whom we should approach. They will advise us on reorganisation of the ISOM so that training for the boys will reflect the current work situation. It is all in hand, and we are about to see light at the end of the tunnel.
Finally, I thank the President, Chairman, General Secretary, Treasurer, Editor and all the members of the Oxford Mission UK Committee for their help and encouragement, care and concern for the OM. I thank our supporters, donors and sympathisers for their immense love for our children at the Oxford Mission Behala, and above all the prayers we receive from you.
We remember the Trojan service given to the Oxford Mission by our ex-Chairman, Mr. John Corrie, who to my hearts delight still consents to be on the UK Committee. We welcome our new Chairman, Mr. Simon Ling, and our new Treasurer, Mr. Robert Mathieson. Our prayer in the Chapel would be to thank God for these saints. I thank our OMTA Chairman, the Rt. Revd. P.S.P. Raju, Bishop of Kolkata, for his compassion towards orphans and the downtrodden. His vision and advice have been responsible for all the good work which is being done in the Mission. I thank the Trustees and the Consultative Committee members for their prudent guidance and advice.
I thank the staff and boys for their co-operation, sense of duty and dedication. I thank the local Clubs, Institutions, donors and supporters for their kind help.Please continue to pray for the work of the Oxford Mission. We pray for your prosperity and happiness, your kindness, help and love.