Dr Andrea Mann, Director of Global Relations for the Anglican Church of Canada, made the long journey from Vancouver to Kolkata in in December. She visited CRS projects at Bibibagan, Pally Mangal and Dum Dum, as well as the Nari Dana production centre, to find out about the children’s and women’s empowerment programmes.
Revd. Loraine Mellor, who has been elected President of The Methodist Church in Britain for 2017-18, visited Kolkata to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Kolkata’s historic Wesleyan Methodist Church (now under the jurisdiction of the united Protestant denomination, the Church of North India). On 14th October, Revd. Mellor spent a day visiting CRS centres at Topsia, Bibibagan and Pally Mangal where she learned about the opportunities provided by CRS for children and women from slum communities. She also spent time at the new Nari Dana Production Centre in the grounds of St. Paul’s Cathedral. At the end of her visit she said, “I am inspired by the work CRS is doing especially the women’s empowerment programme”.
The Diocesan Board of Education in Derby, UK, secured a British Council grant for an exciting new exchange programme. In September, seven head teachers from church schools in Kolkata visited schools in the Derby diocese. In October the visit was reciprocated with a group of teachers from Derbyshire spending two weeks in India where they visited a range of education institutions from well-funded, prestigious schools to some of the CRS Education Centres which serve poor children in the slums.
It is hoped that this is just the start of enriching and long-lasting links between schools in the two countries. The British teachers noted that many of the Indian schools showed an extraordinary passion for transforming the lives of the poorest children, but few resources and little training. Among the follow up plans are UK teachers providing professional development for teachers in the slum schools through peer mentoring and model teaching, and fundraising to improve or replace 15 buildings which host the CRS Education Centres.
Revd. Anita Matthews, Assistant Curate at St Peter’s Church in Derby (UK) visited CRS centres at Topsia, Basanti Devi, Kolabagan and Pally Mangal slums to see projects in education, health and women’s empowerment. She brought with her the best wishes of Bishop Alastair, Bishop of Derby, to Bishop Ashoke in the hope that the links between their respective cathedrals can be strengthened. She is planning to revisit the projects in March 2014 with 8 members of the St Peter’s congregation.
Tracy Matthews from Anglican Overseas Aid (Australia) was welcomed to the Pallymangal and Dumdum slum projects during her visit. She met children at the education centres and observed the women’s skill and livelihood training provided by CRS which has led to 17 women opening their own bank accounts with the Indian Overseas Bank. Tracy was particularly interested in the staff performance appraisals process as an effective way of maintaining internal reporting and quality standards.