Dean strengthens Abbey links with India
Monday, 2nd March 2009
The Dean spent a week in India earlier this month following an invitation from Shourabh Mukerji to see aspects of his charitable project YMWS, bringing education to the poorest communities in and around Kolkata.
Michael Mayne was the first Dean of Westminster to support this work, at the instigation of Mother Teresa. Dr Wesley Carr then visited Kolkata several times and asked his successor, Dr John Hall, to maintain the Abbeys interest.
Besides seeing some of the fourteen YMWS schools, plus a school for the children of people suffering from leprosy, a school including provision for the poorest run by a dynamic religious Sister in her 70s and a Missionaries of Charity orphanage, the Dean laid a foundation stone for an extension to a special needs school, initiated a village piped water scheme, heard about a women's self-help saving and loan scheme. He preached in St Pauls Cathedral, addressed the ordinands at Bishops College Calcutta, spent time with the Bishop of Calcutta and visited the Governor of West Bengal, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, in the former Viceroys palace. He gave interviews to the Times of India and the Statesman, was filmed for local television and managed a little sight-seeing. Kolkata is a city of 14 million people, many of them living in slums, and of enormous contrasts and complexity, the Dean said. It was noisy, vibrant and completely fascinating.