"Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits" (Psalm 103). I start writing this letter with a deep gratitude to Almighty God, and thanks to the selecting authority, for choosing me for the post of Administrator in this holy place, Oxford Mission, Barisal.
After ten and a half years of long service in the Oxford Mission, Barisal, Mr. Samarendra Bayen retired on 30 June, 2003. Bishop M. S. Baroi, Moderator and Chairman of the Synod Executive Committee of the Church of Bangladesh, invited me, Mr. Tushar Kanti Byapari, to replace him on 31 May.
I was given a warm welcome by Father Francis Pandey and the Sisters of the Christa Sevika Sangha with beautiful flower bouquets, followed by a tea party and a delicious supper. I was given a month' s opportunity to be well acquainted with the administrative work and with different subcommittees. On the same occasion Mr. and Mrs. Bayen were given a farewell, with nice gifts of a gold cross and chain, and a beautiful sari, as tokens of love, gratitude and thanks from the Oxford Mission for their sincere service. Representatives of all the sections on the compound, the Management Committee members, the teachers from the Primary School, and many other elite people from outside the compound were present.
a) Very exciting annual football tournaments in the names of Father G. C. Golding vs. Father L.W.C. Rigby, and another for Father Strong vs. Father Douglass, were played by the boarders of St. Michael' s Hostel. The winning teams were given cups and a crest. The boys and staff enjoyed a banquet later.
b) Two Novices, Sikha and Sipra, took their First Vows in the Christa Sevika Sangha for three years, and Brother Martin of the St. Paul's Brotherhood of the Oxford Mission took his First Vow for one year. The service was in the Epiphany Church of O.M. Barisal on 17 August 2003, in the presence of the Most Revd. M. S. Baroi, Moderator of the Church of Bangladesh. A midday meal followed, and it was a very joyful occasion for about 600 guests.
c) New construction: a new construction of the western and south-western boundary wall of the campus was felt to be urgently necessary by the Committee to occupy and protect the unused land outside the present boundary wall. The construction of the new wall is going on, with an advance made from the regular fund of O.M. Barisal at the request of the Moderator.
d) The highest top of the roof of the Epiphany Church building is under repair. The essential materials have been booked from Chittagong, and the work will be started just after this rainy season.
3) A new safety well has been constructed on an experimental basis in St. Agnes Hostel for arsenic-free water, and a new electric pump has been set up with pipes and taps for the girls. It has already proved very successful.
1. St. Agnes Hostel: there are 91 girls of different ages who go to the High School. They are from Christian families, mainly from remote areas. Thirteen students appeared for the School Final Examination, out of which 53.84% passed. Miss Anita Halder has taken Over the charge in place of Mrs. S. Bayen.
2. St. Mary's Home: 44 poor, orphan, semi-orphan and destitute girls of different ages are accommodated in St. Mary's Home. They are taught household work, and simple reading, writing and arithmetic, in the night school run by the C.S.S. Sisters. The Sisters do take care of these girls and women. Sister Dorothy is the capable Sister in charge of the Home. Four old ladies are being accommodated here who have no relation to look after them.
3. The College Hostel for Girls: St. Clare's College Hostel is looked after by the Revd. Miss M. Mitra. There are 26 young Christian girls living in the Hostel. Among them seven appeared at this years final exam in the Intermediate class and are now promoted to the second year. Ten appeared at the I.A. Final exam and are now waiting for the result. First year Degree Course - three girls: second year none; first year Degree Honours - one; second year - one; and final year honours - two; Masters - one. Last year two appeared at the Degree Final exam and one has been successful. All are getting subsidy from the Oxford Mission fund.
4. Kashipur Clinic: an extension of St. Anne's Clinic at the Oxford Mission. It is run by two experienced trained staff nurses, three field workers and one ayah-cum-cleaner. It does work for very poor and sick people and children of Kashipur and Matasha colony, giving treatment to the sick, nutritious food to the under-five children of the community, and health teaching to the families. It is fun with money from our Mission fund.
5. The Primary School: is basically run privately for the poor children of the community. There are 340 children in the school: 57 are Christian, 50 are Hindus, and 233 are Muslims. The school is financed by O.M. fund, Barisal.
6. Oxford Mission High School: has 497 students in Standards VI to X. There are 212 girls and 285 boys. Seventy-five students (34 girls, and 41 boys) appeared at the school Final Examination, out of which 72% have passed. The percentage of the school in the Final Examination in 2002 was 84.5%. Mr. Karuna Bruno Sarkar is the Acting Head Master.
7. The College Hostel for Boys: St. Thomas College Hostel in the O.M. compound has been closed due to local problems. We hope it will be reopened next year.
8. St. Michael's Hostel: there are 83 boys for academic studies, and out of them 15 appeared at the school Final Examination and 73.33% came out successful. Father Francis Pandey is the Superintendent of the Hostel. It is running smoothly.
We cannot but thank the Oxford Mission in the U.K. and kind donors for their loving donations through the Mission to help our widows and very poor people in the community at Barisal. We are grateful for all the donations, concern and prayers for our people. May God bless our friends in the Oxford Mission. We can only assure our donors of our continuing prayers, so that their helping bands could be stretched out more for the poor and helpless in the world. Thanks.
T. K. BYAPARI
Manager, Oxford Mission, Barisal