Second St John’s visit to India
In January 2008, a small group under the auspices of “Christians Aware”, a UK Christian organisation, made a second visit to Vellore in south India. The group was led by the Revd. Phil Collins. (The first visit there was made in October 2003).

While in India, Phil kept a log of the group’s journeys…..
You can download the entire journal in Acrobat Reader (PDF) format here.

Here is part of Phil’s log covering the first day we visited Pannai Orphanage….

The coach picked us up at 10am, and took us the 6kms to MBKG Pannai. We were met by Daniel, whom we met four years ago, and who escorted us around the compound. He introduced us to Reena, the young lady responsible for the sponsorship programme, to Tharyan Koshi, the “inspiration” from St.John’s Church, Vellore Fort, who gives a lot of his time voluntarily to ensure the smooth running of the place, and to Vatsala, the Principal of the Kings Matriculation School.

pannai1 Vatsala has been Principal for the last eighteen years, and was very proud of the achievements of the children. We were then thrown to the children and expected to teach! Some managed to get away with observation of how the classes operated, but others of us were not let off so lightly. Being in ministry, I was expected to teach Scripture….. I did, but not in the way that an Indian teacher would expect. Mrs Beulah, in whose class I found myself twice that day, was very gracious, and accommodated my style without complaint. When I asked “Are there any questions?” one of her pupils piped up “Uncle, how old are you?” I was so thrown by this that I told them. Mrs Beulah, in giving us a vote of thanks on the Friday after our “Show, commenting on my performance, said (but not in my hearing) “… and he is over fifty!”

We taught in the Senior School, ate, witnessed regimented callisthenicspannai2 at the end of the school day, watched a game of Koh-Koh (complicated rules, and very fast), sat with the children (who seemed to think that David’s name was hilarious); then left at 5.45pm feeling totally exhausted.

Things we noticed: –

  • English the medium of teaching, although a lot had to be in Tamil.
  • Many of those who live away from the Pannai Compound do not have the chance to use their English out of school.
  • Old fashioned teaching methods, but it seemed to work.
  • Health and Safety – left a lot to be desired!
  • Very Christ-centred and Biblical teaching, even though many of the pupils are not Christian.
  • No funding whatsoever from the Tamil Government – which does not seem to favour Christian or similar institutions.
  • 40 children identified at the school as living below the poverty level – given a full meal at lunchtime (at the school’s expense) to ensure against malnutrition.
  • Support for the School and Orphanage – much comes from “Global Ministries” USA; from St.John’s, Vellore Fort, from us in Alresford, and from individuals at home and abroad.

Part of the tour included a visit to Shanthigramam Leprosy Village which is supported by St John’s. More information about Shantigrammam can be found on our World Partnership page, or you can go there directly using this link.

Third St John’s Visit to India

In 2013, a third group, again led by Phil Collins, went to India to re-visit some of the projects supported by St John’s. Read Phil’s blog about their visit using this link