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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/paulabbottvolunteerfrom19781981andfoundingtrusteeofrtuintheuk1
    https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/Kimpton/Contributions/Find/RestofWorld0/paulabbottvolunteerfrom19781981andfoundingtrusteeofrtuintheuk1

    Paul Abbott, volunteer from 1978 - 1981 and founding trustee of RTU in the UK

    UK | 1 Nov 2017

     

    Photos of 2010 when I eventually reached RTU for Brother's 85th birthday after a long cycle ride from the UK, including the fish and chip supper, and his birthday cake from David and Jo Cassidy

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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/carolinewalkervolunteeratrtu19791986
    https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/Kimpton/Contributions/Find/RestofWorld0/carolinewalkervolunteeratrtu19791986

    Caroline Walker, volunteer at RTU 1979 - 1986

    UK | 1 Nov 2017

     

    I met Brother James in 1979. My husband Keith and I had gone to India with the intention of finding some useful work to do. We began by getting some training for a couple of months at Seva Nilayam, Dora Scarlett’s rural health clinic, and it was Dora who suggested we go and offer our services to Brother James. At that time he still lived at Boys’ Village on the main road from Batlagundu and we were given a very good lunch of chicken curry which, after the rather spartan fare at Seva Nilayam, was most welcome. The compound was full of the happy noise of children playing, beautiful flowering trees and shrubs, and there was an air of calm purpose and orderliness. Brother explained that he had just opened a clinic in the nearby village of Kallupatti, and needed someone to set up a small clinical lab. This Keith offered to do. He also talked about a batik workshop being run by a couple of English volunteers (John de Pury, and Jane Kimpton, Brother’s niece) who were about to leave. I offered to take this on so Brother said, “Fine, you can come and work here, and help to build your own house in the village.” And that was the start of a wonderful seven years. Every day Brother would arrive on his Royal Enfield Bullet and take a tour around the various departments in Kallupatti. In those days Reaching the Unreached (or RTU as it is also known) was very small: workshops for handloom weaving, where the looms clacked all day, women sat spinning yarn on simple wheels, and where Paul Abbott, another English volunteer, had built the most amazing machine for warping the yarn; two sheltered workshops for leprosy patients where grass mats and batik textiles were produced; a clinic and a small number of guest rooms and offices, and a small chapel. The house which is now the accounts office was our house (the two neem trees outside were planted by us) and there used to be a field opposite where flowers, groundnuts and other crops were grown and a man irrigated the field by driving a bullock up and down a ramp to draw up water from a well in a bucket. Anbu Illam Children’s Village was under construction and the lines of neat cottages were growing. It is unrecognisable now. Brother would visit all the departments in turn, and often sit and have a cup of tea outside our house on the verandah. Then he might go off to visit another village where there were plans to bore a well, or build some houses. In those early days Brother was working with ActionAid to sponsor village children to go to school, but as the standard of education in the Government schools was pretty low he started building schools, and asked me to set up a small balwadi, or nursery school. The work grew according to the needs, which we could see every day were quite desperate. We had many, many people affected by leprosy, a disease which if untreated leads to dreadful deformities and disabilities. So we started a leprosy treatment programme. It was a particular interest of mine as I was working with leprosy patients in the batik workshop and I could see how devastating the effects of the disease were. I became very fond of the workers – I was quite embarrassed, however, when Brother wrote in one of his newsletters, “Caroline loves the lepers”! Brother meant well, but it wasn’t a term I ever used – I just saw them as my friends and colleagues. We saw many children at the clinic suffering from malnutrition, and dehydration caused by gastro-intestinal infections. So Brother dedicated a cottage as a nutrition rehabilitation centre, and we took in mothers and babies and fed them and taught them about salt and sugar water as a rehydration fluid. After a time, we began to see a reduction in the number of child deaths. We decided we should also train health workers for the remoter villages to educate about simple prevention measures. For every new project, Brother would consider it, discuss it, and then raise the money with his newsletters and his international contacts. He was a phenomenal fundraiser, and believed that if the work was right, the money would come. He also, of course, believed in the power of prayer, and was known occasionally to put a bottle of water in front of St Joseph or Our Lady to remind them to make it rain. He taught me so much about faith and about trusting in Divine Providence. He was great to work for, always encouraging us to take a bit of time off, lending us the motorbike (and later on, the jeep) so we could go and have a holiday in the hills, where he would arrange accommodation with his friends the sisters at Presentation Convent, Kodaikanal. When I was pregnant with my first daughter, Maya Sophie, he sent me to the convent hospital in Theni for check-ups and delivery; my second daughter Reanna Shanti was born in our house in Kallupatti, with Neil and Irene Blessitt, two English volunteer nurses, helping to deliver her. On some days, especially in the hot weather (we had no air conditioning or even fans – in fact no electricity at all for most of the time) it was hard going. Water was a particular problem, as without three-phase current we could not pump water from the well to the water tower which supplied the workshops and clinic. It usually came on at about 2 am, (we would know from the shrill quarrelling at the nearby stand-pipe) and Keith would have to get out of bed to go and start the pump. Despite the lack of modern comforts our quality of life was good, and my daughters had a wonderful childhood in the village: they were free to wander, welcome in every house, where they would be fed, and their hair would be oiled and combed, and decorated with flowers. On some days Brother would be, as he put it, “bone-tired” (“What a life, without a wife!” he would sometimes declaim) and he would take himself off for a well-earned rest; but what always lifted his spirits and kept him going were the destitute children he was able to take in and care for. He delighted in seeing them blossom and grow, and eventually get an education, a job, and make a good marriage. It was particularly touching for me, when I visited RTU for his 90th birthday in 2015, to see him being cared for so lovingly by young people who had grown up in his Children’s Villages. I hadn’t seen him for two years and I was sad to find him confined to bed, unable to feed himself and in low spirits; I had the privilege of cooking for him for a couple of weeks and I remember his enjoyment of a steak and kidney pie which I fed him by spoonfuls. The next week Ian Brady came with a holdall full of tinned pies and other goodies and Brother was able to have bacon and eggs for his birthday breakfast. Another very touching encounter happened to me on Brother’s 90th birthday, when I recognised someone among the guests: Joseph (Joe Frog) who I had first met when Brother and I went to pick up a tiny emaciated baby with a cranial deformity whose mother could not care for him. This baby had a leather pouch around his neck with a dried tree frog in it (hence Joe Frog): this was a common treatment for babies who failed to thrive. The baby was found a loving foster mother and despite his disabilities has grown into a lovely young man and is now working as a warden in a hostel. This is just one example among thousands of people whose lives have been saved and transformed by Brother’s work. Brother James was a huge influence on me in so many ways. He introduced me to writers who helped shape my thought, passing on books and magazines from his library, and he set me an example of selfless and tireless work for others; he was, I think, a true Christian who really did see Jesus in everyone he met. He loved these words from the Bible and lived them every day: "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be given to you. For with the same measure you measure it will be measured back to you." And yet he never thought of reward: as it says on the wall in the RTU compound: “Much of what we do is like planting trees under which we may never sit, but plant we must.” Caroline Walker

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