Friday, September 24, 2010

For the children. Dr. Graham's Homes.

T
he first destination on our Kalimpong tour agenda was a visit to a place known as Dr. Graham's Homes.

Dr Graham's Homes is a co-educational institution providing education and support, for impoverished and deprived children in Kalimpong. 


The school was founded in 1990 by the Rev. Dr. John A. Graham who originally came to Kalimpong as a missionary.  After his arrival, he soon began to focus his attention on teaching the underprivileged children and thus set up an orphanage/school for destitute Anglo Indian children.  At that time, the school was known as St Andrew's Colonial Homes but was later renamed to Dr. Graham's Homes.

The school complex encompasses an area of 400 acres and has its own cottages, staff quarters, chapel, workshop, hospital, bakery, playground, farm and hostels.

On our way to the school, we made a pit stop in town. We were going to be visiting an orphanage afterwards and everyone in the group wanted to buy items for the children.

Just outside the shop, as Raju was getting ready to pull over and let us off, we got trapped in the kind of traffic jam that is so typical of India.  Only in India, do you have pedestrians helping *untangle* the mess of cars :-)


We settled on books and stationery. Luckily, one of the drivers knew where to go and all descended on this one tiny shop and bought pencils and books and stickers and erasers and all sorts of other things for the kids. I thought I overhead some mentioning that they had bought some small calculators as well. Armed with our purchases, we got back into the cars and went on our way.

The drivers deposited us at the parking lot of the school which is a private school for ages kindergarten to, I believe 12th grade. According to Sanjeev, it costs about $2000 to send a child to the school. For Indian parents, this is expensive.

It just so happened that the day we were at the school, it was the school's 110th anniversary and so it was a holiday for the students and the place was pretty much empty. We strolled along the main walkway that runs through the school's grounds, peaking into windows as we went along.....just curious to see what was inside the buildings. As far as private schools go, this one looked a bit run down compared to ones I've seen in other parts of the world. Presumably, it does provide a good education to the students who pay to attend school here.

Somehow, we ended up in store that sold art done by the students. Nothing of interest for me so I waited outside for everyone else. As we walked along, the group naturally split up. I ended up walking up the hill towards the school's chapel. Mike joined me and then Rhonda.

On the outside the chapel was pretty modest looking. It was a dreary day in Kalimpong and I must admit that it gave the chapel a bit of an eerie look. In fact, I said to Mike that the place looked like it could be the backdrop in an Agatha Christie murder mystery.....Death by the School Chapel.

From the chapel grounds, we could look over part of the school and the parking lot that we had arrived into.

The front door was lock but curious Mike found an opened side door. We walked inside and there was a lone person doing some painting work. He didn't mind us being there so we took a look around. The inside of the chapel was as modest as its exterior. Not much to see really so I headed back outside ahead of Mike and Rhonda.






 



















I decided that I had had enough and was going to make the long walk back to the car. As I neared the parking lot, I could hear the sound of voices singing. I picked up the pace and there was the school choir performing in front of a small audience.....presumably family members and friends.

They were beautiful voices, singing in harmony.  I stood and enjoyed the performance.


After the performance was over, we all trickled back into the parking lot and back into our cars. Next stop was the orphanage which turned out to be one of the *homes* in Dr. Graham's homes.