A visit to the Anand Niwas Boys Home
The Anand Niwas Boys Home
Andrew McCabe has always had a burden on his heart to help the “street kids” of India’s cities. Throughout his long ministry among them, he has found many to be just as intelligent as the more well off. All they are lacking is care, nurture and opportunity.
The central focus of Andrew’s ministry is the Anand Niwas Boys Home where up to 150 boys are accommodated, most from very bleak backgrounds. The hostel is looked after by only two paid employees, Joy and Mina Gurung. Yes, two people look after 150 boys! A system is in place where the older boys look after the younger ones and so on down the line.
A typical day starts at 5.30 with the night watchman banging a gong. He then goes off duty and the boys very structured day begins. They make their beds, tidy their living space, wash and dress before another gong summons them to breakfast. A period of study follows, before school begins at 10. They are lucky to have extensive sports fields, so after-school is filled with football and cricket. A typical day ends with evening prayers (conducted by the boys themselves), the evening meal and an early night. “Lights out” is not an appropriate term, as with minimal electricity, the compound makes the best use of daylight hours.
Sunday is a rest day and church attendance is readily embraced. These are children who appreciate their good fortune and take the opportunities on offer. All of the major religions of India are represented in the hostel and more than a dozen languages are spoken. Andrew is not trying to change their beliefs but he is unashamedly introducing them to his own faith. The children know the reason he is devoting his life to their future.
Walking through the campus, what strikes you most is the discipline and obvious desire to learn. In classes approaching sixty pupils, you could hear a pin drop. At the hostel, Joy distributed our gift of sweets to children who come forward in age groups, with no pushing or shoving, or trying to take more than their share.
The James Harvey Memorial School
The school has about seven hundred pupils and teaches up to grade 10. Teaching is done in the Hindi language with sciences the main focus. The children come from the surrounding villages with the hostel boys easily mixing in. Living standards in the villages are low with no electricity, running water or toilets. In contrast, standards in the school compound are much higher, but they are not so high that the children might become alienated from their homes.
I visited the new science block, built with a grant from the McCabe Educational Trust. The teachers manage within the constraints of few textbooks and little equipment for experiments.
There is a computer room. Sadly, only four out of ten computers actually work. The room is damp, dust is everywhere, and electricity comes from a diesel generator. The McCabe Educational Trust recently installed solar powered computers in the school we support in Nepal. We are currently carrying out a feasibility survey of doing the same here. We have also recently installed a computer room at Jeel school in Bethany. Computers are the future!
Agriculture is another main theme. Most of the students come from the villages where their meagre income comes from subsistence farming. Andrew comments that the biggest change he has seen in his sixty years at Nawabganj is in the villages. It is difficult to change the traditional practices of the parents, but the young of at least two generations from the school have returned to their villages with new ideas, transforming farming practices.
A Remarkable History
In 2015 the James Harvey Memorial School will celebrate its centenary. It has an interesting history. James Harvey, a British army office started the work, but died young. His wife Esther, continued the ministry and sixty years ago Andrew took over. James and Esther are buried in the compound as is Andrew’s late wife Evelyn.
James Harvey had the foresight to buy a large tract of land very cheaply. Today it is valuable property with more than four hundred acres under cultivation, providing food and income for the boys home. Wheat is grown and turned into bread in the bakery. Potatoes and other vegetables feed the boys. They grow their own rice. Much needed “cash-crops” include sugar cane and teak. Remarkably, this work is carried out by a Farm Manager and six full-time workers. At harvest time and other peaks such as sowing seed, day labourers from the villages are hired and the boys have enormous fun joining in. You are struck by how neat and tidy the fields are: maximising output at minimum expense.
In the chapel, a memorial plaque quotes from Revelation 10: “Be faithful to me, even unto death, and I will give you the prize of victory” words which aptly sum up one hundred years of Harvey and McCabe ministry. 2015 is also the 60th anniversary of Andrew’s arrival in Nawabganj. We have some ideas up our sleeve to celebrate a special year, but more on that next year!
It is a constant struggle to keep the school and boys home afloat. The location deep in the countryside of Uttar Pradesh does not help—as it is difficult for supporters to visit. The school teachers are paid by the government, but everything else is dependant on voluntary support from donors such as the McCabe Educational Trust.
This visit, we are providing new mattresses, two new generators and woolly winter hats for all of the boys – paid for by specific donations from generous donors. In the pipeline is a project to build a new dining room beside the hostel. This will become a much-needed multi purpose room where the boys will also be able to sit at tables to do homework. There is always a “new” project and an ever present need for development funding.
We are very proud to be associated in this way with the ministry of Alistair’s uncle, The Revd Andrew McCabe MBE, one of the last of a generation of missionaries who have given their lives to serving the poor of India.
The McCabe Educational Trust provides half of the running costs of the Anand Niwas Boys Home and makes capital grants for improvements.
For more than 25 years, the McCabe Educational Trust has been creating partnerships with inspiring people like Andrew that we have met on pilgrimage.
A special thank you to McCabe pilgrims who helped us raise £38,927 during February, making a total of £67,790 raised so far this year.