Two Marist Brothers from India visit Scotland
It is now eight years since staff and students from Lawside Academy (now St. Paul`s Academy) in Dundee initiated “The India Village Project”. The project supports the work of the Marist Brothers in Mangamanuthu, India. As well as St. Marcellin`s High School in Mangamanuthu, the schools in Scotland support the Rainbow project which provides help for people who have AIDS / HIV. The project has developed to include provision of housing for local people.
St. John`s High School in Dundee and its “feeder” primaries also support the project along with St. Ninian`s Primary School in Hamilton, near Glasgow.
Two Indian Brothers, Raj and Chinna, arrived in Dundee on Thursday, November 6th to develop the partnership between Scotland and Mangamanuthu and to meet their many friends and benefactors.
What follows is a report of the visit which has been written by Brother Douglas Welsh, who has been involved in The India Village Project since the very beginning.
After a great deal of preparation and expectation, we finally greeted our Brothers from India. They came over to a rather cold and “dreich” Scotland. Their itinerary was a very full one and so many of our friends and colleagues wanted to bring them into their homes that we ran out of time.
The Brothers visited St. Paul`s Secondary School on their first full day. Following an ancient Scottish tradition, they were led by the Queen`s Piper into Mangamanuthu Hall, to be greeted by the staff and pupils. The concert to welcome them had a Scottish theme. After a short break to meet with Brother Provincial and the senior management, the Brothers were shown round the school to visit the various departments. Later in the week they had a longer session with the pupils and also visited the feeder primary schools of both St. John`s High School and St. Paul`s Academy.
Next day the Brothers were up bright and early to visit St. John`s High School where they assisted at Mass, had a session with the senior management, and then shown round the school. They were especially interested in the Anne Frank exhibition which was put on by the school and was visited by many hundreds of visitors over the week. They also had the opportunity to discuss the work of the Brothers in Mangamanuthu, Trichy, and P.U. In the afternoon, they were taken to visit Bishop Robson in Lawside Convent. He spent the afternoon with them, inquiring about the work of the Brothers in India and especially the work in the schools, Operation Rainbow (the AIDS project) and the little village of Mangamanuthu from which The India Village Project originated. In the evening we had a “ceilidh” to introduce the Brothers to even more Scottish culture.
Saturday was a rest day, so a visit to some local areas, such as Arbroath and Broughty Ferry.
On the Sunday the Brothers had the opportunity to take part in the Armistice celebrations at the City Square and they also attended a ceremony at Discovery Quay.
Monday saw the start of India Week in St. Paul`s. This involved workshops provided by the members of the local Bharatiya Ashram – yoga, Bollywood dancing, India crafts and an introduction to cricket in India which culminated in a game between staff and pupils followed by the traditional cucumber sandwiches. There was also extended workshops on the connection between India and the Jute mills of Dundee.
A mass of welcome and a buffet was held on Tuesday and was attended by the friends and supporters of The India Village Project. This was a very warm and emotional evening for all concerned. It also gave the Brothers the opportunity to express their gratitude for the support given by The India Village Project over the years.
By Thursday the Brothers were in need of another break and were taken to St. Andrews and East Neuk. Sadly, the weather was not at its best and Stewart, their guide and mentor for that day, told us that it was difficult to stand up straight due to the strong winds. Another new experience for the Brothers who were provided with heavy coats, gloves and woolly hats for the duration of their stay.
The next evening the Brothers attended a Civic Reception in the City Chambers. The Lord Provost presented them with a little gift and gave them a very warm welcome. There was also a lovely buffet provided by the City Council and the evening was very successful. It was an opportunity for Dundee City Council to express its appreciation of the work being done by The India Village Project.
On Saturday morning we went down to Glasgow to spend some time with the community. In the evening Chinna and Raj met up with Mary Gallagher and the members of her Zumba Group. She had visited India with her sister Margaret Anne, who is head teacher of St. Ninian`s Primary School in Hamilton. Mary and her Zumba friends had prepared a surprise for Chinna and Raj, in the shape of a social/fund-raising event. It was a wonderful evening of reunions, music and dancing and a large cheque for The India Village Project was presented at the end of the evening.
Unsurprisingly, Sunday was a day of rest. After Mass we had a quiet and most enjoyable day with the Brothers in the community.
Monday saw us on our travels once again. This time to Hamilton to visit St. Ninian`s RC Primary School. Margaret Anne was waiting for us at the door and it was touching to see how pleased Chinna and Raj were to meet up with her again. We were shown round the school by four Primary 7 “guides” who stayed by our side for the whole of our stay in the school. The Brothers were very impressed by the efficient and friendly way in which the school is run. They spent a great deal of time in the classrooms chatting with the teachers and the children. At morning break we were taken into the hall to take part in the little market which was being held to raise funds for the Project. Brother Raj was persuaded to have his nails painted, which took a bit of explaining when we returned to Dundee
We were taken to lunch by the Knights of St. Columba and again presented with a cheque. As we arrived back at St. Ninian`s we were greeted by the sound of bagpipes, played by another Knight of St. Columba. We were ushered into the hall and treated to a wonderful concert which involved the whole school – music, dancing poetry. The grand finale was an Indian medley in which everyone took part. Once again, we were presented with a substantial cheque to further the work of The India Village Project!
On Tuesday the Brothers were invited to our India Concert in St. Paul`s. This consisted of a number of Indian dances, Scottish dances, songs and instrumental melodies. Our good friends from the Bharatiya Ashram provided much of the entertainment and prepared the India Meal afterwards. A wonderful way to end the Brothers` visit to Scotland.
It only remains to say that the visit of the Brothers was greatly beneficial to them and more especially to us, as we learned a great deal from them and we hope that they benefitted from spending time with us.
For more information about The India Village Project please visit http://indiavillageproject.org/index.html