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Messages from the Rest of World

  • 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/RestofWorld0/janeturnerlongtermsupporterandformerpupilatkodaikanal
    https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/Kimpton/Contributions/Find/RestofWorld0/janeturnerlongtermsupporterandformerpupilatkodaikanal

    Jane Turner, long-term supporter, and former pupil at Kodaikanal

    UK | 1 Nov 2017

     

    I was introduced to Brother James in the late 1990s through a mutual friend who had lived in Madras and knew him well. I first visited him at RTU in 2000 and since 2001, the South India Association and past pupils of Presentation Convent Kodaikanal (PCK), who hold a combined annual reunion in London, have been supporting RTU with a donation every year, thanks to the generosity of its members. I have visited RTU frequently over the years, taking friends and my children with me on different occasions. I might say that each time I get hopelessly lost as it is so tucked away off the main road! But this fits in with the quiet way Brother James and his team just get on with the job, concentrating on the things that matter and not flaunting their presence with large notice boards along the way. One small treat I was able to take him each time was packet soups. Such a simple request and one I thoroughly enjoyed undertaking, lining the bottom of my suitcase with dozens of different varieties. Apart from devoting his life to the care of the 'unreached' (people with leprosy in the early days when I first knew him, then HIV victims, abandoned babies, homeless children and single mothers), he was a charismatic man of immense wisdom, generosity and faith. One small example: In 2008 I was sponsoring a young girl in the Nilgiris through school. Her family were not treating her well and she had a growth disability, which meant she was very underdeveloped and small for her age, although there was nothing wrong with her mental capacity. After her schooling, when she was about 17, I arranged for her to go to PCK, my old school, to participate in their year-long Integrated Development Programme for Women, learning computing and secretarial skills, and sewing. As she approached the end of that course, Brother James agreed to employ her at RTU to help in various ways, where she would be paid a salary, open a bank account, and enjoy an independent and fulfilled life. I took her to RTU to meet Brother James and everything was in place when her family, who had long been absent from her life, stepped in and removed her. Sadly there was nothing we could do as we had no legal rights over her and we were never able to find out what happened to her. I last saw Brother James in March last year when I stopped off at RTU (again getting lost!) on my way to Kodaikanal. He had been admitted to Batlagundu Hospital the day before but I went to see him there and found him positive, feisty, and longing to go “home”! On learning of his death, a friend of mine, who came with me to RTU and met Brother James on one of my visits, said to me, “At least I can say with certainty that I met a saint in my lifetime”, a truth with which I wholeheartedly agree. Jane Turner The photo below is of my son, Richard, singing Jungle Book songs to the balwadi children in 200, and me with Br James in 2004.

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Messages from the Rest of World

  • 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/RestofWorld0/mikejellicoeformerboystownvolunteerandfoundingtrusteeofrtuintheuk
    https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/Kimpton/Contributions/Find/RestofWorld0/mikejellicoeformerboystownvolunteerandfoundingtrusteeofrtuintheuk

    Mike Jellicoe, former Boys' Town volunteer and founding trustee of RTU in the UK

    UK | 7 Nov 2017

     

    BROTHER JAMES KIMPTON AT BOYS' TOWN, NAGAMALAI, MADURAI BACK TO INDIA Brother James received a shock on his return to India from England in August 1971. The consequences of this proved to be one of the major turning points in his life and lead eventually to the formation of Reaching the Unreached. In the late 1960s and early 1970s the world had moved into the post-colonial era. Countries like India were beginning to assert their independence and were soon to ban voluntary organisations from sending volunteers into the country. Missionaries per se were persona non grata. As such James Kimpton, who had come from Sri Lanka as a De La Salle brother to teach at Boys’ Town in Madurai in the mid-1960s, would have to leave the country unless he could demonstrate that he was needed in India for his technical skills. Brother left Boys' Town in 1969 and returned to the UK where he obtained a qualification in engineering and metal-work. This qualification proved sufficient for the Indian Government to allow him to return to India in August 1971. This was the last time Brother was outside India. Many people attempted to encourage him to return to the UK at least to tell his story and promote the work of Reaching the Unreached but he resolutely refused to go, arguing that the money needed for such a trip was far better used helping local villagers in need. WHAT HAD HAPPENED AT BOYS' TOWN PRIOR TO 1971 In the 1960s one of the ‘big ideas’ third world development agencies came up with was to create ‘centres of excellence’ in developing countries. These would be well-financed ‘models’ used to demonstrate the way organisations in poor countries should be structured in order to be able to operate effectively in the local environment. A central concept of these ‘centres of excellence’ was that they should be self-sufficient. This was to be achieved by generating income from their activity sufficient to fund the costs of running the operation. Boys’ Town sought to be a ‘centre of excellence’. This project was put in place by Brother Aelred, the head of Boys Town. He secured funds from a number of donor agencies including Misereor in Germany and Oxfam in the UK. The funds raised were used to build a most spectacular operation at Boys’ Town. Boys’ Town remained as previously – a residential school taking in orphans and other needy boys from the area and providing them with an excellent education. The core purpose of the new development was to expand the educational offering to encompass vocational education, thus providing the boys with improved employment opportunities when they graduated from the school. The strategy was to add various business units which would both generate funds and provide the practical aspects of the vocational training. The funds raised from the donor agencies were consequently used to purchase land as necessary and construct a metal-welding shop, a carpentry shop, a pig farm, a manufacturing unit together with an extension farm located at Batlagundu some 40 miles away. Markets were found for the products made in the workshops or produced on the farms. For instance the carpentry workshop made furniture for sale from a shop established in Madurai. The metal workshop made a variety of functional and decorative products to order and for sale to the public. The farm supplied pork products to Spencer’s, a Chennai based business catering to the culinary needs of the significant western ex-pat community in South India. The manufacturing unit made wooden drinks crates which were sold to the local Coca Cola franchise. All this activity produced income that would otherwise not have been available to Boys Town. THE POSITION FACING BROTHER JAMES ON HIS RETURN On the face of it the project was a great success and Boys’ Town was pointed out as a model for development projects in third world countries. However concealed within its apparent success was a fatal flaw. It was far from financially self-sufficient. In trying to maintain the enterprise, Brother Aelred bought time by getting the donor agencies to commit new funds to finance a further expansion of the project. However, although these funds were to be used for capital costs, most of them were needed to meet the running costs of the operation. Even this use of capital funds was insufficient to stem the cash flow needs of Boys’ Town and the debts were beginning to mount up. Brother Aelred must have been under great personal pressure as a result of this and one can only guess at what lead to his next decision. On the day before Brother James returned to India, Brother Aelred left the Order but he left no account or notification of any problems to his successor. Brother James arrived back at Boys’ Town in 1971, anticipating he would be heading up the Metalwork Department. Instead he found himself appointed as the new head of Boys’ Town, and stepped, blind, into the shoes vacated by Brother Aelred. Just days later the creditors started knocking at the door and Brother began to realise there was a big problem that had dropped at his feet. Brother James started off by defining the financial state of the organisation and identifying why things had reached that state. He then moved on to analyse the viability of the various ‘businesses’ within Boys’ Town. These were not happy findings! For instance the direct costs of manufacturing a Coca Cola crate was Rs2.99 but the crates were sold for just Rs3.00. The single paise contribution per crate to running the orphanage was laughable! Given facts like this, the inability of Boys’ Town to be self-sufficient was not surprising. Brother’s approach to what faced him was straightforward. Concentrate on what is important – the children under the care of Boys’ Town – and simplify. White elephants such as the drinks crate factory were closed. He introduced straightforward reporting for other units and gradually changed these so their primary purpose was educational. The considerable resources that had been put into marketing the businesses were ruthlessly challenged and cut if they could not be justified. Sales were still made. However, the emphasis of Boys’ Town returned to education. REBUILDING BOYS' TOWN One can only imagine what conversations Brother must have had with the representatives of the donor agencies, but slowly he must have convinced them of the folly of the ambition that Boys’ Town should be self-sufficient. He negotiated that further funds should be advanced to keep Boys’ Town viable going forward. This was not an easy process as not only did Boys’ Town have to address and resolve its historic losses but provide assurance that its operations were robust and viable going forward. No doubt the De La Salle order made significant financial commitments to bring this about. None of this was easily achieved as it took Brother three years of negotiation before Boys’ Town was back in a situation that ensured it was viable. Consider those of us who have seen Brother’s compassion at work. We have seen the need of the person in front of him being the most important matter to address and that action to deal with that need must be taken straight away with no concern for the financial impact that would have; Divine Providence would provide the cash! Imagine then the position he had been pushed into when he arrived back at Boys’ Town where he had to learn skills his training hadn’t prepared him for. His instincts to deal with the need in front of him were thwarted by the circumstances he faced. This called on strengths and skills Brother cannot have known he had. The main support for Brother during the three years – and well beyond - was Martin and Margaret Henry. Martin, a brilliant man, then in his thirties, had been made managing director of Madurai Mills a huge cotton factory in Madurai. The Henry’s lived on the outskirts of Madurai a few miles from Boys’ Town. The wise counsel of Martin and the sanctuary of his home was hugely helpful for Brother allowing him brief respite away and the opportunity to discuss with Martin how best to deal with the problems he was having to address. THE AFTERMATH A sad thing happened just after the debts of Boys’ Town were cleared. The then Bishop of Madurai, who had invited the De La Salle order to set up Boys’ Town in 1961, decided that it should no longer be run by non-Indian brothers. In his eyes they had clearly mis-managed the operations. The Bishop therefore required that Brother James resign the headship and pass it over to an Indian brother. This decision hurt Brother very much. He was blameless in the causes of the difficulties and was the only reason for the organisation becoming viable again. Brother had to accept the Archbishop’s decision but he negotiated that he be allowed to move to the extension farm at Batlagundu and to set up a Boys’ Village there. It was also agreed with the De La Salle order that Brother would not be answerable to the Indian Province but instead to the London Province. This decision effectively provided Brother the freedom to set up Reaching the Unreached - an organisation that would not have been contemplated by the De La Salle brothers in other circumstances. Brother remained a De La Salle brother and must be one of their most celebrated monks of all time. When Brother got to Batlagundu, he built some houses for the needy boys and began work in the area. As there was no provision for teaching on site the boys in Boys’ Village began to go to the local school in Kallupatti. Thus was set up Brother’s window into the lives and the needs of the local villagers in Kallupatti and the surrounding areas. From this need Reaching the Unreached was born. Michael Jellicoe Early volunteer at Boys' Town and founding trustee of RTU in the UK

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