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OGB's Speak
I can recall my first day in Mansfield Cottage. It was a cold February afternoon and some girls were sitting around the fire in the dining room waiting for teatime. One of them said, “buns in the store room”, and I thought we were going to have buns for tea. In fact the bun referred to was Mansfield’s housemother, Aunty Ella Horgan, whose nickname was ‘Bun’, and who was to be my mentor and ‘aunty’, as the cottage staff were fondly known as, for the next ten years.

The year was 1943, I was 6 years old, and had just spent three weeks in the Steele Memorial Hospital, which was a requirement of all new children admitted to the Homes. There was a very large intake of new children that year, with both the downstairs wards and the Isolation Block filled. There was a war raging, and some of the children were from families who had left Burma following the Japanese occupation of that country.

In 1945, when the War with Japan ended, the news was relayed by a messenger on foot to each cottage. To celebrate, the whole school enjoyed a meal of pork curry and rice on the school playground. The biggest treat was eating off banana leaves with our fingers!

I had my entire education at the Homes, starting from Kindergarten 1 and finishing with Senior Cambridge. I can recall the names of all my teachers, and still have most of the prize books I received for “General Proficiency”. Fellow-Mansfieldites remember me as a bookworm, and I think I was in trouble more often for reading a book when I should have been studying or doing some other task, than for any other misdemeanour. Most of the teachers and cottage staff were dedicated to their work and to the children.

The regime of cottage life, schoolwork and after-school activities of athletics, games or swimming, we all took in our stride. The girls in the cottage ranged in age from 5 – 18 years. Daily cleaning in our cottage was an important part of the routine. All the children participated in the cleaning tasks. The weekly rota of cottage work was divided into three groups: small, middle-size and big girls. My earliest task was cleaning the dining room windows. My least favourite, as a senior, was “kitchen girl”, which required being woken up at 5.00 am to light the solid fuel kitchen stove for cooking the day’s meals for the cottage.

In winter one had to work by the light of a hurricane lantern as no electricity was generated at that time of day. I remember that on one occasion I could not get the fire to light, and was duly admonished. At the end of the week as kitchen girl, you were given a special breakfast in bed on Sunday morning !

Scholastic achievement was commended, but it was equally important to get a good school report. We were also encouraged to participate in other out-of-school activities.  I sang in the Church Choir, and was in the Girl Guides. There was Girl Guides and Bulbuls for the girls, and Cadets, Scouts and Cubs for the boys.

Religion naturally played an important part in our lives: morning and evening prayers each day in the cottage, and Church on Sunday mornings. It is still wonderful to hear and sing all those lovely hymns which formed part of our worship. On Sundays there was Sunday School, Confirmation Classes (for Church of England children), Christian Endeavour and Youth for Christ when visiting evangelists held meetings, often in Kalimpong town.

During the mid-year school holidays in May and September we sometimes went on picnics and outings but during  week-ends, we entertained ourselves on the cottage compound or down the khudside. We were imaginative and innovative in our play as there were few toys or other equipment. A cottage party or celebration brought great excitement and meant collecting ferns and greenery from the khudside to decorate the cottage. From Mansfield we enjoyed wonderful views of Mount Kanchenjunga, and the snow capped Himalayas, and occasionally we would have aspiring artist visitors to the cottage to paint the view, particularly the spectacular sunrises and sunsets.

In fact life in the cottage was extremely sheltered. In my ten years in the Homes I can remember visiting Kalimpong town on very few occasions. I did not visit Darjeeling until 1960, 8 years after leaving the Homes.

Many of the children did not go home for the long winter vacation, i.e December – February. Some of the cottages would be closed and the remaining children from those cottages would move to another cottage for the holiday. My two brothers and I spent only one Christmas in the Homes. I recall the happy celebrations, tucking my pillowcase at the foot of my bed on Christmas eve and waking early next morning to find it filled with goodies. In the evening Father Christmas visited and gave each of us a present from under the big Christmas tree. We went camping by the Rilli river for two weeks in January, when we slept in tents and spent carefree days wandering along the almost-dry riverbed looking for rough garnets, catching fiddler fish, and discovering waterholes where the more adventurous would dive and swim.

Mansfield had some fine swimmers and athletes, though I was never in that league. Girls like Mona Owen, Mary Orchard, Meggie Johnston, Patsy Harris to name a few, won for us the Sports and Swimming Shields, sometimes both in the same year. Except for health reasons, we were all expected to learn to swim and particularly in all games and sports. Every child was fiercely loyal to their own cottage and made every effort to win, or collect points for the cottage. All inter-cottage competitions were taken seriously, and the annual Swimming Gala and Sports Day were highlights of the year.

The Homes Birthday celebrations each September brought huge excitement. At the Speech Day assembly, often with a VIP present, we especially looked forward to the reading of the Birthday greetings and messages from OGBs in India and around the world. I remember Mr James Purdie ready the greetings. He was the Homes Superintendent for a few years (the title predated that of “Principal”). Mr Purdie was much loved by the children and OGBs in that era. The annual treat of Buns and Jelabies which followed the Speeches would be enjoyed on the school playground, and was followed in the evening by a special School Concert.

- Pat Hardie, OGB, Batch of 1952

 
INNER VOICE - A Tribute To Daddy Graham
What do we do when we see social issues that need to be tackled and the big problems that face society? Just fret, fume and express our frustration to do anything to improve the situation. At best, we feel disillusioned about life in general and humanity at large. But not so Rev. J A Graham. He was a visionary – who worked hard to heal, educate and improve the lot of the people. This, he did by providing a home to the neglected, uneducated and often unwanted European and Anglo-Indian children in the slums and bustees of India.

The visionary in Rev. J A Graham could gauge the mammoth problem. He and his wife took it upon themselves to heal the wounds and scars and to improve the living conditions of so many children. To provide a home and to educate the under privileged so as to make them useful citizens of India, became the aim of this Scottish couple. What started with six children in a bungalow – later got transformed into 17 cottages and two hostels with house parents looking after the children, a proper school, a chapel and a small hospital to look after the sick. This dream, though, was nestled in a small town called Kalimpong but the backdrop of the Kanchenhjungas was making Rev. Graham aim higher and higher. While entire hill children were receiving the best education along with the Anglo-Indian children, efforts were also made to teach better means of farming to the local people in an effort to improve local handicrafts, which in turn would improve their living standards.

Apart from regular classes and teaching in the school, the children were also taught by their house parents how to clean and look after themselves. Despite all the hardships faced in arranging funds and overcoming other management hurdles, it was ensured that the children had an overall development. The OGB’s (Old Girls and Boys) endlessly reminisce about their school days, their walks to the school barefoot in the earlier days and the treat of buns and jelabies on the school birthday. There is a bond that exists between OGB’s that is very unique.

The older students were responsible for a younger child and ensured that they were dressed for school, assisted them with their homework, and all children had to help out in the kitchen and in keeping the cottage sparkling clean. Over naughty children would get their share of spanking!! The perfect home experience cottage vie with each other for honours in all fields, be it academics, sports or even cleanliness. No wonder that with such good grooming the children from Dr Graham’s Homes, Kalimpong have gone all over the world and have been successful in all walks of life – engineers, sailors, farmers, publishers and even politicians.

So was Rev J A Graham a true Scottish Knight or a Bharat Ratna? But, to the thousands for whom he provided a Home in Kalimpong and nurtured their growth to different success levels in Society – he will always remain – Daddy Graham.

- Florence Harrop

 
Address by Lyonpo Jigmi Y. Thinley | 24th September, 2005
Distinguished Members of the Board of Management 
Managing Member and Secretary to the Board 
Mr. and Mrs. Monteiro 
Fellow OGBs 
Dear boys and girls,

As an old student, my senses are guided by nostalgia to seek out images of the past, to look for things that are familiar. It is natural to reminisce and to be disappointed some times with change. But institutions must change ' just as society does, lest they be consigned to the shadows of irrelevance and obscurity.
I am glad that my alma mater has changed, albeit through some ups and downs ' that it has grown and will continue to transform to shape the future of many children and to some extent, the destiny of this great country. It certainly has contributed to Bhutan's process of nation building and my countrymen are grateful. In this regard, I have the special honour and privilege of bringing to the Homes the greetings and good wishes of His Majesty the King on the occasion of its 105th Birthday Celebrations.