Saturday, 5 May 2018

Dr. Rev. John Graham and his Homes at Kalimpong for the illegitimate kids abandoned by the British

Kalimpong town close to Darjeeling  was a famous hill station for the British during the colonial 
days and to day it is more popular than before. Situated  in a picturesque place from where you can view the majestic third tallest peak in the world Kanchenjunga  playing hide and seek with the clouds, this nice place has many tourist attractions. Among them is Rev. Dr. Graham's Homes along with the Chapel built by him for his wife. 
Dr. Graham and Katherine Graham. drgrahamshomes.net/

Kalimpong, Dr. Graham's Homes. feelindia.org
 In the colonial past and in the later years, the preponderance of European Missionaries took their job seriously and did something worthy of them. Though their mission was to be focused on spreading Christianity, many of them paid more importance to the social and educational aspects of the natives. For the Indian native, joining the Christian institution was not contingent upon becoming  a Christian. Many Missionaries paid particular attention to education  and some not only gave priority to education but also to the social problems being  faced  by them in day-today's life.  India being a multi-lingual and multi-religious country, they also introduced the native language as a medium of instruction in schools to impart knowledge. Besides, they also started  schools for the deaf and dumbs whose lives were pathetic before the arrival of the missionaries. Yet, some missionaries started colleges for girls, hospitals for natives, etc. They fairly stuck to the motto "Service to "People is service to God".

In those early colonial days, a large  British community and also soldiers lived in the cantonment area across the country. Because of their long stay here, it gave rise to some unexpected social issues, one serious issue being the fate of illegitimate children fathered by the wandering, lonely British soldiers and others who never cared either for those unfortunate children or for their mother who had to live through the trauma of carryong stigma in this society.
Location map, Kalimpong, West Bengal.India Mike

This problem of illegitimate children is conspicuous among the khasi hill and other tribes of NE India. It was Dr. Graman who started a home for these unfortunate people in Kalimpong, now part of West Bengal  to light up their grief-stricken lives. 



 Rev. John Anderson Graham DD CIE (8 September 1861 – 1942), a Scottish vicar and the first missionary from Young Men's Guild was sent to North Eastern Himalayan region Kalimpong (then in British Sikkim, currently in West Bengal) on Darjeeling Mission.  Graham and his wife arrived in Calcutta on 21 March 1889 and  moved over to Kalimpong via Darjeeling.   Kalimpong Mission - catholic center had been functioning at Kalimpong. Rev. graham was interested in the welfare of Nepalese, Lepchas,  and Bhutias and in particular Lapchas, the native inhabitants. In 1890, he became a Convener of Silk Committee and helped the farmers improve their technique, besides, he conducted Mela (fair) to create competition among  the farmers.  He introduced a novel  idea called Cooperative Credit society for the farmers  to get loan without going to the money lenders. In 1893, a hospital with 23 bed came up.


In the same year Katherine Graham started a girls' school called Kalimpong Academy.  To improve the quality of Nepalese and other women, she encouraged the women in local craft, artwork and run cottage industries to make a living and to improve their skill.

Between 1898 and 1901 Both Rev. Graham and his wife were in Scotland for a brief period and then came back to Kalimpong to continue their missionary work.  He set up hospitals, schools, etc with funds raised in Scotland. The most significant contribution Rev Graham made was starting homes for the abandoned children - Angelo Indian kids .
It was in 1900s Rev. Dr. John Anderson Graham took the first steps  to put into action what he was dreaming for. He wanted to have a home built here in a quiet place for the needy Anglo Saxon kids. Poor, neglected  and orphaned children needed whatever help they could get from the society.  The calamity suffered by the early Anglo-Indian families  was quite enormous, abandoned both by the English and Indian families because of illicit birth. Dr. Graham  took the responsibility of providing them  with shelter, food and education in the name of Christ.   

A native of London and educated at Edinburgh,  when Rev. Graham  came to Kalimpong, India was directly ruled under the Crown. His wife was  Katherine Mc Conachie  gave him the needed support. Dr Graham, with aghast, noticed, a particular group of children  facing,  humiliation, social ostracism and neglect because they happened to be  the illegitimate kids of British Tea planters and local Assamese/ Nepali and Khasi women. The women and kids underwent untold miseries and pain, when the abandoned English planters married and brought in their English wife.

He realized the necessity to open a Home for the orphaned, un-cared-for children born to the British and the local people. He and his wife were instrumental in making them see the bright future in the midst of pangs of pain and dejection suffered by them in a conservative society.  In 1900, he founded the St. Andrew's Colonial Homes, later it was known as Dr. Graham's Homes  and it provided them an opportunity to look up  for bright future, despite odds. He raised funds from the Scottish public and from the British India Government. Neither the Gild network nor the missionary committee gave him any monetary help whatsoever. 

In 1908, Graham was assisted in his work at Kalimpong by James Purdie who managed the financiall affairs effectively.  In 1910, the Church of Scotland missionary aged just 24  Aeneas Francon Williams arrived in Kalimpong to assist Graham and  he had a long association with Graham' home. 

In 1911, Rev. Graham at Madras (Chennai) convinced the then Governor of Madras  Arthur Lawley and started Graham's Home in Kodaikonal (hill station in Tamil Nadu) on the model of Kalimpong. So His mission came to Tamil nadu long ago.

Presently, this educational institute at Kalimpong  has grown large enough to allow more than 1200 students - both boys and girls on a vast land covering 500 acres of land, providing education to various groups  Eurasian, Anglo-Indian, ethnic Negalese.

 Dr. Graham's Homes relieved the plight of innumerable underprivileged children of Anglo-Indian descent and numerous destitutes from the streets of Calcutta and other places. His work gave emphasis to human decency and enabiling poor and deprived Eurasian and European kids live a life of dignity and confidence.  Grahams Homes  created an educational institution, in a socially free  environment conducive to healthy growth and development in which these kids could develop their talents and skills without any inhibition and make constructive contribution to the development of the country.

Kalimpong The Katherine Graham Memorial Chapel TripAdvisor
In May 1919 Mrs Katherine, wife of Rev. Graham died in Kalimpong. On the school premises a Chapel was inaugrated on the 24th of September 1925 and dedicated to the memory of Dr. Graham’s wife. Dr. Grham died in 1942 in the same place where he began his missionary work  In the Chapel's cemetery lie the mortals remains of both Rev. Graham and his beloved wife.   In 1947 his schools, hostels, institutes were collectively called Dr. Graham's Homes. 

https://thehimalayanbeacon.com/heritage-status-to-be-bestowed-upon-katherine-graham-memorial-chapel-in-kalimpong/

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Anderson_Graham









 


 




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