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News from India & Bangladesh November 2006 - April 2007

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Letter from Barisal

After the kind visit of Mrs Mary Marsh and Mr. Simon Ling to Oxford Mission, Barisal in September 2005, many things happened. Let me touch on a few:

Women’s Seminar in October, 2005. Although this was not directly important for our school- and college-going children, some of our staff members attended and were benefited. The theme of the seminar was ‘O Lord, change your world’, and two of our priests spoke on the theme. One of our social workers gave a very important lesson on AIDS which will have a good impact on families and on our inmates.

Sunday School Day in October: 62 of our Hostel children attended the programme in the Epiphany Church. It was a whole day of Bible study, singing lessons, talks followed by questions and answers in groups, colouring pictures, a cultural function, and Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade training. The children were very happy to have a special meal, tea and good tiffin.

Pre-Christmas in St. Michael’s Hostel This was held in the evening, out-of-doors. There was a line of tubs decorated with fairy-lights, a cultural function, cake-cutting and distribution, and gifts for everyone from ‘Father Christmas’. Afterwards the boys and guests had a nice supper in the dining-hall.

St. Mary’s Home Christmas Party was on 2 December. There was a cultural function, with dancing, singing, poetry and a play. Gifts of clothes were given to all the children, and other gifts to the guests. This was followed by lunch.

A widow from St Mary's Home -

St. Peter’s (Parish Church) Youth Function
on 9 December: almost all the youths gathered in the OM Primary School Hall for the first time. The parish priest opened the function with a prayer. Everyone ate a piece of Christmas cake, and a cultural function by the youth was followed by the exchange of gifts among them. Packets of food were given to everyone to take away.

Lucy Holt’s 75th birthday on 16 December: we had a small prayer meeting for Lucy on this joyful occasion. She was given presents and many bunches of flowers, and this was followed by tea and biscuits.

Christmas Holidays in December: all the Hostels were closed. The children enjoyed Christmas Eve, and came back in January 2006. The new boys were given a warm reception, so that they could easily adjust to the new environment of boarding-school. They were given an opportunity to show their talents through a cultural show, and were highly encouraged.

Primary School Sports in February: the guests were welcomed, and badges and rosettes given to the main guests. The national flag was hoisted, and the national anthem sung. There were various races, jumps and a fancy-dress competition, and the winners from 1st to 3rd in each event were given prizes. It was a very enjoyable day for all the children in the school.

International Women’s Day in March: our Social Department organised a seminar on Women’s Rights. There were refreshments for the participants and a cooked lunch. On this day Mr. Nirmol Rai, who had served the Oxford Mission as a messenger for 45 years, passed away. Many relatives and others who had known him, including the Sisters and people from the OM compound, attended his funeral.

Farewell to the girls in the school St. Agnes’ Hostel had a farewell function in March for the school-leavers. We hope they will return here to St. Clare’s College Hostel and take the Higher Secondary Certificate, but that depends on their school results. However, even if they return as college students they will be absent from us for at least three months.

The function consisted of speeches, songs and dances. The school-leavers were given presents, and all the girls and their guests were invited to tea in the Warden’s office.

Inter-Church Revival Meeting The theme was ‘Watch and Pray’ that you do not fall into temptation (Mark 14:38). The service consisted of sermons and prayers, and an opportunity to ask for the prayers of the congregation. About 400 people had been invited and most of them came.

Confirmation on 2 April: 32 young people from our boarding hostels and some candidates from the parish church were confirmed by Bishop Baroi, and welcomed by him and other priests and elders of the Church as full members. The Bishop in his sermon spoke of the temptation of Our Lord. He exhorted the candidates to pray and read the Bible faithfully, so that they could overcome temptation. The candidates were given lighted candles after the confirmation. There were dinner and supper parties in both the girls’ and boys’ sides, where the Bishop and other guests attended. It was a pleasant occasion for all the Hostel inmates.

Easter Day, 16 March. Easter Sunday and Monday are very happy days in the boarding life of our Hostel children. They are on holiday yet living together, and can sing, dance, laugh, and enjoy good food! After the Easter service the St. Agnes’ girls and the St. Mary’s girls had a festive meal at midday, and the St. Michael’s boys had theirs in the evening.

Football Match The Father Strong and Father Douglass Memorial Football Match took place on 20-22 June. The boys of different ages and sizes were divided into three groups - A, B and C teams. They all played very earnestly, and the competition was very exciting and enjoyable. The Father Strong team finally won the match; all the players got medals, and a big cup was given to the team leader. The girls from the Oxford Mission High School were invited, to encourage the players.

The School Final (SSC) Results were published on 22 June, and the pass rate of the Oxford Mission High School was 91.25 %. Our school stood first among the Non-Government High Schools in Barisal Upazilla. All were happy including the Management Committee members, who hoped that the children would try to hold on to this position, but make an effort to do even better in future.

Guardians’ Day in the OM High School The School invited all the guardians and students who passed the school final exam in 2006, along with the students who stood First, Second and Third in the yearly exam of 2005. Prizes in the name of the retired Bishop B. D. Mondal were awarded to those who had good results in the SSC final exam, and also to those who stood First, Second and Third in different Classes. The students were highly encouraged through speeches, followed by a cultural function and distribution of sweets to all. World Cup Football The favourite teams of our children, and of many Bangladeshis, were Brazil and Argentina. Their supporters formed two teams in the Hostel and played a hot competition, and finally Argentina won. The supporters felt very proud!

Transfer of the Revd. Monorama Mitra
Following the decision of the Synod Board, the Revd. Mitra was transferred to Khalishpur. The Revd. Sudatta Boidya came to the Oxford Mission from Rajshahi on 30 June.The Management Committee arranged a farewell meeting for Revd. Mitra, and at the same meeting a hearty welcome was given to Revd. Boidya. Revd. Mitra finally left Barisal for Khalishpur on 7 July. She had served for more than 55 years in the OM, and we thank God for her sincere and faithful service here.

New Revised Pay Scale It is a sad fact that the price of every commodity has increased beyond the reach of our common people, especially our employees who have a very poor income. So the OM Management Committee, with the consent of Bishop Baroi, recommended an increase of at least 20% in the total pay of our employees from January 2006. We got approval by the Synod Financial Committee, and it is nice to say that we were able to introduce the new pay scale to our workers in July.

Auditing of Accounts Following an order from the Synod Board, based on the advice of Mrs. Mary Marsh from the UK, all the accounts of different departments will be audited and sent regularly to Diocesan Headquarters and to the UK.

I thank God for recovery from my severe illness, and for the opportunity to write this newsletter for our enthusiastic readers abroad. I thank our Bishop and all the members of the Committees at home and abroad for their concern for us. We pray for God’s blessing on all the efforts that the OM is making to serve the needy people especially here in Bangladesh.

T. K. BYAPARI Manager,
Oxford Mission Barisal

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