Dr Graham's Homes - Kalimpong

In 1900, more than a century ago, Reverend Dr. John Anderson Graham began giving life to his dream. A dream to build an institution that manifested his love for children. A Home for orphaned and abandoned Anglo-Indian children whose only craving was for love and an opportunity to live a life of dignity. Whilst working in Edinburgh as a clerk in the Civil Service, Graham was influenced and encouraged by the Minister of his Church, the Reverend John McMurtrie, to be ordained in the Ministry of God. Following his graduation with an M.A. from Edinburgh University, he spent three years in Divinity Hall. At Divinity Hall, he developed a keen interest in the activities of the Young Men’s Guild, an organisation that sought to unite the young men of the Church in fellowship, prayer, study and service. This interest inspired Graham to consider the possibility of working with an overseas mission in one of the poorer parts of the world.

In 1887, the Young Men’s Guild decided to send a missionary of its own to a foreign land, and Graham was sent to work in Kalimpong, which was at that time, part of the Darjeeling Mission of North East India. Graham was ordained in 1889, and two days later, married Katherine McConachie, to whom he had been engaged for two years. Reverend Graham and his wife set sail for Calcutta on 21st March, 1889. For two years, Graham worked to build a new Church in Kalimpong. He also established the Kalimpong Mela – an agricultural exhibition for local farmers – as well as a silk committee to encourage the industrious locals. He also helped them establish a cooperative credit society.

There was one particular group in the Darjeeling area whose plight affected Reverend Graham more than anyone else. During his visits to the tea gardens of the Dooars in Darjeeling, he noticed groups of children who suffered deprivation and hardship. Most of them were the illegitimate sons and daughters of British tea planters and local Nepalese, Lepcha and Assamese mothers. Such liaisons were common in those days, but as the young tea planters rose to management positions, and European brides arrived in the gardens, the ’kanchis’ and their children were, more often than not, discarded to no man’s land. His heart was filled with a desire to find a solution to the problems of these Eurasian (now known as Anglo-Indian) and poor domiciled European children.

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