Edited extract from an article by Pavithra Krishnan published in 1992
It is difficult to describe Brother Kimpton's work. It encompasses so much and so many. Among other things, he digs wells, builds homes, runs schools, dresses wounds, rescues orphans, rehabilitates the disabled, feeds the hungry, trains the unskilled, and shelters the abandoned. There are entire villages that exist and generations of children who are because of this man's heart.
James Kimpton belongs to the order of the De La Salle Christian Brothers. At 27, he was sent on an overseas mission to Sri Lanka. For 12 years, he taught in the slums of Colombo and Vatthala, working with deaf, mute, and blind children. In 1964 when the government ordered all foreigners to leave the country, he caught a ferry to India and travelled to the city of Madurai. "The minute I got there I knew I'd come home."
Brother Kimpton ran an orphanage in Madurai. But this was only a beginning. The extremes of poverty, suffering, and helplessness that he witnessed in rural India spurred him into starting RTU. What began as a single, modest medical clinic has today evolved into a diverse network of highly efficient programmes aimed at comprehensive and sustainable rural development.
Messages from the rest of the World
There are many miracles at RTU that Brother Kimpton can but will not claim responsibility for. He is a man of many talents and much humility. An architect, artist, educator, economist, medical worker, water-diviner, and administrator rolled into one.
A dedicated staff, most of them grown-ups who were once children under Brother Kimpton's care, assist in the effective management of RTU's numerous projects.
The Children's Villages are the most beautiful testimony to the commitment and compassion of Brother James Kimpton. The first of these was Anbu Illam - Home of Love. It is an entire village built for the care of orphans, and destitute children. Brother Kimpton built them a complex of little cottages, simple and cheerful. He put his own little room in the midst of it all.
Each cottage is home to six children. Each home has an "amma" (mother) who takes care of the children. The ammas themselves are often young widows, abandoned wives, or old women with no families to support them. Brother Kimpton, with one of those deft strokes of intuitive genius that come so naturally to him, brought the children and these women together. He gave them families again.