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Messages from India

  • Dear Friends/Family, I would like to share a contribution page with you which has been created in the $bookTitle$ book. To view the page please click on the following link: $findContributionLink$ Online Book for Brother James Kimpton https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/Kimpton/Contributions/Find/India/ajitmarniformerfielddirectorwithactionaid
    https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/Kimpton/Contributions/Find/India/ajitmarniformerfielddirectorwithactionaid

    Ajit Marni, former Field Director with ActionAid

    India | 16 Nov 2017

     

    My association with Brother James Kimpton goes back to 1986, when I joined ActionAid as Field Director for South India. One of my first tasks was to phase out many of the small projects ActionAid had and single out those projects which could manage larger investments (more child sponsorships), to reduce overheads and permit development learning. Two projects, one of which was ostensibly inspired by Marxist Leninist ideology and the other, inspired by Christian charity were up for 'phasing out' which was the euphemism for getting the chop. These projects were ADATS in Bagepalli and RTU. Sounds like a straightforward administrative task, but after visiting both projects a couple of times, I realised both had extraordinary lessons to offer an agency like ActionAid which was still a young organisation. As a result, both projects not only stayed on with ActionAid, but became sources of great learning for me. The leaders of both projects, Ram Esteves and Brother James Kimpton became close personal friends. Brother James had found a means of building low cost houses, on a continuous cycle so that many homeless people were able to live under a proper shelter for the first time in their lives. Brother James's reconstituted families were by far what impressed me the most. During the 1980s, the Genguvarpatti area was famous for female infanticide. Brother James didn't think I would want to know, but when I showed an interest, he actually showed me a fairly ubiquitous shrub of Calotropis species, the sap of which would be mixed with milk and fed to female infants. It guarantees a slow death with no trace of the toxic agent. Another method was to add a few grains of paddy to mother's milk in a glass. The grains would get stuck in the infant's throat and cause it to choke to death. Brother James told me that he has actually paid money to mothers to give him the female infants marked for death. Such rescued children would go to one of Brother James's reconstituted families in the Children's Villages. He used to call these children 'eight anna babies' (eight annas is fifty paise or half a rupee). A widow who was prepared to work as a foster mother was given a proper house and monthly payments to bring up 4 to 5 children. I learnt from Brother James that compassion, unlimited love and sacrifice must also be quantified and incorporated in a cost benefit analysis. I don't know if Brother James had a British passport. At the time I knew him, he had been to England only once after he had come to India from Ceylon (Sri Lanka). He was firmly rooted in his village, G. Kallupatti ("G" for Genguvarpatti). He could speak colloquial Tamil and could sometimes be seen walking barefoot. Local officials including the District Collector at that time had the highest regard for Brother James and considered him to be a saintly person. He was a gifted artist and made a portrait of my son from a photograph. He also made a sketch of a girl, saved from sure death and gave it to me. This sketch has the note, "To Ajit with love from Sahaya Mary and in friendship from Jim, 1988". He nominated me as the child's sponsor and I paid for her school education in a private donation. Both these sketches were framed and hang on the walls of my flat in Bangalore today. I was proud to make an institutional contribution to RTU by finding an outstanding candidate, Girish Menon, to be Brother James's Deputy Director. All those who came in contact with Brother James at RTU would have been influenced in some enduring way that is sure to have touched their lives. Ajit Marni The photo below is of Sahaya Mary, the child I sponsored at RTU

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Messages from India

  • Dear Friends/Family, I would like to share a contribution page with you which has been created in the $bookTitle$ book. To view the page please click on the following link: $findContributionLink$ Online Book for Brother James Kimpton https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/Kimpton/Contributions/Find/India/frcharlesalphonseformercapuchinprovincialoftamilnadu
    https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/Kimpton/Contributions/Find/India/frcharlesalphonseformercapuchinprovincialoftamilnadu

    Fr Charles Alphonse, former Capuchin Provincial of Tamil Nadu

    India | 27 Nov 2017

     

    A PURNA-RHYTHMIC BROTHER AND GRANDFATHER This title very much fits our Brother James Kimpton of a happy memory. An effective memory of goodness, innovation, concern, love, purposefulness, detachment and spiritual depth. 5th October 2017 is the day when this world bid goodbye to yet another father and grandfather of our humanity. That is Brother James Kimpton, a passionately generous and optimistic God man of our time who dedicated most part of his life to the care and education of unreached children. His speciality was that he had a big heart to help poor and needy children in remote places of India and Sri Lanka. He was truly passionate about helping children who are neglected by society and was optimistic in reaching out to them through simple but innovative ways of education and accompaniment. Whenever I met him, it was a grace moment which gave me new hope, enthusiasm and spiritual encouragement. He had the gift of inspiring people with his very presence, simplicity and optimism. RTU is a lovely home for the unreached children that he left behind and it is testament to his goodness and inspiring simplicity. A PASSIONATELY OPTIMISTIC GRANDFATHER He never said no to a child that stepped into RTU searching for a home. And thus RTU, a home for those unreached children, was born. RTU means ‘Reaching the Unreached’. Grandfathers have the life wisdom to be generous, resilient and thoughtful. God blessed me with the opportunity to meet and listen to Brother James Kimpton and spend quality time with him. I used to listen attentively to his words and draw strength from his thoughtful ways. They were precious moments of feeling the presence of God who is closer to our heart. RTU is the organisation founded by him, specifically for the poor, the sick and orphaned children. Today it has given life to thousands of children and they are leaders now in various fields and come together once a year to meet their loving Thatha (in Tamil means grandfather) and get recharged with love and generosity. He was truly a grandfather because today, thousands of children who grew up in RTU, come back to bear witness to his affectionate ways and the gift of life he transmitted to them in a fatherly and grandfatherly manner. A PURNA-RHYTHMIC LIFE It means a harmoniously integrated life. I experienced him as a person who lead a very systemic but a harmoniously integrated life. RTU, the brain child of his innovation, bears witness to that reality. Anyone going around RTU will see a striking harmony, simplicity and a motherly atmosphere where the unreached children find a comforting nest to grow in freedom, intelligence and love. He has shared with us how his mother, who was a member of the secular Franciscan movement following the spirituality of Francis of Assisi, a universal brother of simplicity and fraternity in the 13th century. It is true that his mother’s touch of affection, simplicity and prayer life inspired him to design a lovely but simple home structure all through RTU. It is a wisdom, even we many Indians have to learn yet and practice. He shared his touching experience with his mother. He seemed to have had a deep spiritual and affective bond with his mother. And after coming to India he did not have the possibility to go to England for so many years. An instinctive sensation to go to visit his mum propelled him to travel to his home country for few days. As he arrived his family people informed him that his mother was in hospital and was very sick. As he rushed to the hospital the doctors were surprised because the sick mother had told them that she would meet her religious son before passing away. And he was there. If my memory doesn’t fail he recounted this to us and said that it is Mother Mary to whom he is very affectively connected had helped him to meet her before her death. She seemed to have opened her eyes and saw him. And, as his narration went, after some time his mother seemed to pass away peacefully. It is true she was deeply spiritual and had passed on that trait to her beloved son who was a committed religious who brought God alive to many otherwise abandoned children. CONCERN FOR THE POOR Pope Francis recently announced (19 November 2017) the ‘World Day of the Poor,’ and said the following: “To love the poor means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material…And it will also do us good. Drawing near to the poor in our midst will touch our lives. It will remind us of what really counts: to love God and our neighbour. Only this lasts forever, everything else passes away. What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes. Today we might ask ourselves: “What counts for me in life? Where am I making my investments?” In fleeting riches, with which the world is never satisfied, or in the wealth bestowed by God, who gives eternal life?” The intention behind this initiative was to give importance to the often-neglected poor who are the pupils of God’s eyes. In this way he invited all to recognise the preciousness of poor people and value their worth that could teach us many things. Brother James had a similar love and concern for the poor, particularly for poor children. That is why many of his social work initiatives reach the unreachable remote corners closr to Batlagundu, a small town, around 70 km from the city of Madurai, Tamilnadu in Southern India. Father Antony Paulsamy, now Director of RTU, used to tell us how Brother would choose very remote and neglected villages and start helping them with basic necessities like water facilities, houses, balwadis (pre-schools), tailoring training for women and other livelihood possibilities. Similar to the ways of Pope Francis now, what touched Brother James Kimpton most was his passion to reach the unreached. MODEL SOCIAL WORKER & EDUCATIONIST Brother James Kimpton had innovative social work programmes which included mobile science labs to cater to the poor village schools so that the children could have access to lab facilities. For drinking water, RTU had free bore well drilling programmes which helped remote villagers find good water to drink. The housing programme was yet another innovation where, on a very low budget, a decent house was built for the homeless with basic facilities. The materials were all made by the staff of RTU, most of which are made of cement and iron rods. Even much before the Indian educational system could update its teaching methodology, Brother James Kimpton had his innovative educational genius, inspired by his own religious background as a De la Salle Brother. He designed an efficient and affordable curriculum and pedagogy to fit the needs of the growing children in the Children’s Villages. It is child friendly and helps them to learn faster and learn happily. Another important factor is that he did not rely on Government subsidies to support his educational initiatives but invented possibilities where generous hearts from India and abroad were able to contribute generously to this noble initiative. It is all done with a lot of transparency, constant dialogue with group work, verification and systemic accounting by able auditing of the accounts. COLLABORATION RTU’s formal governance has on its board members of people from different walks of life, religions, culture, language and education. It includes people like the former Election Commissioner, Dr Oza, auditors, social workers, educationalists, teachers, business people and religious belonging to different faiths. Some years ago, with foresighted vision, Brother realised the need to guarantee continuity to the noble work he had begun at RTU. On a particular day he phoned me up asking whether we Capuchins of Tamilnadu Amala Annai Province could take up RTU as part of our service to humanity. He also said that he had obtained due permission for this collaboration from the De La Salle Superior in Rome and Brother Arockiadoss, the then local provincial of the De la Salle brothers of India. I told him that I would consult my provincial council and reply to him. But within few days on a fine morning, I was informed that someone was waiting to meet the Provincial in person. When I came down to see the person, it was Brother James Kimpton and, with all his simplicity and goodness, he asked me to send Father Antony Paulsamy, one of our Capuchin priests, who was himself a child of RTU. That day’s memories are still fresh in my mind about the ways in which he explained to us the vision and purpose of RTU. And it was grace that accompanied Brother James, and the Capuchins followed it by sending Father Paulsamy first to RTU to serve there and then others followed him. Another example of his detachment was that from the beginning he talked about giving up the President of RTU’s office to the Capuchin Provincial and said he wanted to retire. But the Capuchins wanted our Brother to continue as long as he could because they valued his wisdom, spirituality and simplicity. It was as if St Francis of Assisi, our founder revisited us along with his beloved mother. Continued on next page

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