Letter from Behala
Greetings from the Oxford Mission Family Behala!
Once again I have the privilege of writing for the Oxford Mission News. It gives me great joy to tell you all about the progress of the boys, and the achievements and vision of the projects envisaged by the OM Trust Association. The support, encouragement, love and concern which we receive from the Oxford Mission UK Committee, donors, supporters, members and well-wishers certainly gives us strength and courage to go ahead with other fruitful plans.
The biggest event and achievement of this period is the completion of the building of the Mathieson Memorial Music Centre hall, and its inauguration on 8 December, 2006 by the Chairman of OMTA, Bishop Samuel Raju; Simon Wilson, the British Deputy High Commissioner; and Simon Ling, Chairman of the OM UK Committee. It was a joyful day, with all the children of the Oxford Mission; the residents of Santi Nivash, the Old Peoples Home; the Headmistress of our schools; Trustee Board members, Consultative Committee members, staff, and invitees attending the function. Our senior and junior boys enthralled the crowd with their music. The Senior Orchestra was conducted by Sanjib Mondol, and the Junior Orchestra by Ananta Makhal. A Quartet played one of Father Mathiesons favourites -Abdelazer, by Henry Purcell.
In his speech the Deputy High Commissioner praised the Orchestra, and also the work of the Oxford Mission over the last 127 years in caring for poor orphan children, and grooming them into capable citizens of the country. Our Chairman, the Rt. Revd. Samuel Raju, remembered Father Theodore Mathieson and his sisters and brothers. The privilege of playing in such a wonderful hall, he said, was thanks to a legacy from Father Mathieson himself. He thanked everyone for their contribution to getting the hall built, and blessed it with holy water.
Simon Ling, Chairman of the UK Committee, read out a message from Miss Barbara Mathieson for this auspicious occasion. He gave a brief talk about the Mathieson family: Father Theodore was his maternal uncle, and he felt proud to be a member of the family. He praised the work of the Mission, and gave us best wishes from himself and from the President, General Secretary, Editor and members of the UK Committee, and all donors, supporters and well-wishers. Then there was lunch for all.
The boys are now doing their music practice in the hall, and shortly, after the interior fittings are completed - tapestry, furniture, fans and lights -we will have concerts, theatre and dramas there. It will be multi-purpose and used to the full. Once again, thanks to all who helped to make this dream come true.
Ananta Makhal conducts the Junior Orchestra at the ceremony
Sanjib Mondal leads the Senior Orchestra
St. Nicks: The 31 little angels, five to six years old, of St. Nicholass Home are a very happy lot. They enjoy the surroundings of their new home, and the freedom to play about. They attend St. Josephs Primary School and do their studies well. They are growing up very sweetly, looked after with loving concern by the three Mashis (matrons) and the Nurse.
Hostel Boys: The 94 senior boys in our Hostel are doing well in their studies and in the extra-curricular activities in the schools, and are growing strong in faith and fellowship. They go out once a month to take care of people who need help. Three of them are appearing for their High School exams which started on 20 February: so far they have done well. Other boys from Classes VI to IX are studious: nowadays we as Guardians are called on by the Headmaster if their results are not good, and advised on what is required for them to improve. Both junior and senior boys have special tuition from private tutors where necessary. On the whole the boys are healthy and strong in body, mind and spirit, and are well disciplined. They are given nutritious food, comfortable living and a clean atmosphere to grow up in. They receive many invitations from local families to have special meals for some auspicious occasion in their families. They are growing well, and they thank you all for your kind support.
Cricket on the Mission grounds, both formal
Staff of the Oxford Mission: Our Hostel Warden, Mr. Sujit Mondol, retired on 29 December after serving the Mission for six years. We all thank him for his dedicated work and pray that he may have a peaceful and fruitful future. We have received many applications in response to our advertisement for a replacement, and the Trustees will call them for interview. We pray to God to guide us in appointing a capable, humble and caring person. The work load in the Office is increasing, due to various Government requirements both regarding taxes and in land and property matters. Nevertheless my Secretary, Mrs. Reena Sen, and the Accounts Department do their work smilingly and with joy. Our field and kitchen workers, teachers, nurse, doctors, cooks and others are working diligently. Our Music School is going from strength to strength.
OM Private Kindergarten, and St. Josephs Primary School: Both the schools are doing well. The Kindergarten held their Sports Day in February, and it was nice and refreshing to see the little children taking part.
Santi Nivash: The old people here are very happy. It is good to see a lovely, close-knit family of 30 residents. They praise the Lord for the comfort and security that they receive from the good Lord, and through the hard work of the Matron, cook, helpers, and the Committee members. They are grateful to all.
ENT Clinic: The Clinic is growing each week. Doctors Ranjan Roychoudhury, Paritosh Sengupta and Anjan Dutta are doing a wonderful job. Every Thursday they check between 60 and 70 poor patients. Recently a boy from our Hostel in Class X had his ear operated on by Dr. Roychoudhury, and is doing well. The Nurse, Mrs. Halder, assists the Doctors and takes care of all the children on the compound. Dr. Milan Sengupta, the Mission Doctor, checks the boys health every week, and in emergency attends immediately.
Visitors: The visit of Mr. Simon Ling was refreshing for all of us. He took an active interest in all of the Missions work, and his kind and encouraging words were an elixir of strength, especially to me. Mr. David Johnston, Warden of Romsey Abbey, visited the OM in January 2007, and was delighted to see our compound, the work and the boys. He knows Mrs. Margaret How, a member of the UK Committee, who lives in Romsey and was formerly a nurse for the OM in Bangladesh. Visitors from overseas quite often come to see the work carried out by the Mission. A very good friend, Mr. David de Massey, was delighted to hear about the new Mathieson Memorial Music Centre, and sent a donation for the hall. It was very kind of him, and we appreciate his concern for us. We thank David and his wife Winifred.
Before I conclude, I take the opportunity of thanking members of the OM UK Committee for their love, guidance and help. I thank the donors, subscribers and well-wishers of the Oxford Mission. Without all you benevolent folks we would not be able to continue the noble work of running this 127-year-old Mission - founded by saints. I would also like to thank our Chairman, the Rt. Revd. Samuel Raju; the Trustees, Board members and Consultative Committee members for their valuable advice and constant support. Our Chairmans vision, guidance and leadership are of great help for the strength and growth of the Mission. I thank the staff for working so diligently, and the boys for their discipline, dedication and love for the Mission. May they all prosper in life with the great opportunity they have been given by you, our benefactors.
Finally, my wife Kanchan and I thank the UK Committee and dear friends from the UK for their good wishes to our son Amitesh and his bride Anne on their wedding in December, and for the lovely gifts sent through Simon. Norman McDowall came all the way from the UK to attend the reception in January. Amitesh and Annie send their regards and thanks to you all.
Please pray for our work -which is becoming more difficult every day with the myriad of new rules and regulations for the running of the Mission.