The Bareilley Club
An Old Colonial Building Used for a New Purpose
By: By: Sr. Concepcion (Ching) Madduma, ICM
Bareilley the Himalayans
Bareilley is a very old place. It is an unusual place, in crowded north central India, because this “city” seems satisfied and at ease with holding in its vast area only a small population of 150, 000 people or so. It is unusual, too, because it has become known as “little Punjab.” Many people from the strife torn areas to the north have “followed the railway” and have settled down here in the hill sides and lowlands south of the towering Himalayans mountain range.
Old Colonial Style
The scene appears to be one of “long time past;” but there here it still exist before your very eyes! In frame work of lush greenery, there is a magnificent red-brick colonial building, topped with a delicately tiled black roof! This unique building is a distance back-far back-from the city of Bareilley.
I have come here to Bareilley to attend an important seminar at the old colonial Bareilley club. The seminar is an international meeting on Retardation, a subject which has been the focus of my mission life here in India as an ICM sister.
Some women present in the club are in the best of saris and ornaments; other women wear clothing evidencing poverty. Men are here in well- tailored suits, in Indian formal cloths and others are in baggy (and even soiled!) “doti” wear. The meeting point, the binding force, of all the people who are here in the shadowy hall of Bareilley Club, is the interest in, the love for, and the dedication to serve persons with mental retardation... persons living in the world of shadows!
Disturbing the Ghost
Our 40-hours week long seminar, as always, passes very quickly. Among the participants, there is a small group of ardent Religious Sisters. Two hustling Protestant minister, a concerned core group of parents, teachers, and volunteers from near and far. The rich and the poor people come. A steady stream of worried and saddened parents bring with them persons with mental handicapped. The noises generated by these people and the many educational activities seem almost to bestir the “ghost of time past” in Bareilley Club to complain about the disrespectful disturbances to the aristocracy of the colonial place!
No Cure but...
Our seminar comes as a spark of light in that dark world of shadows, of frustrations, of doubts, of question of disappointments stigmatizing parents and guardians who come to realize finally that their sons and daughters “cannot be cured” only educated! To our classes come persons young and old two and a half years of age to thirty-two years old), some “free” (without chains!) others bound with ropes, some frightened, some happy! I do feel that many people who come hoping for instant cures and even miracles return to their homes even more sad when they come to know that only many, many tiring years of educating will help their daughter or son to have the same life and respect as a normal person who happens to be “slow.”
Out from the Shadows
Here in Bareilley Club hall, twenty dedicated women and men not only “point the way” for persons who are mentally handicapped, but even walk together with them through this week of growing educationally, spiritually, and physically. This place is a “good place” where people live and work together in bringing persons with mental handicapped out of the world of shadows and into the light of normal community life!
“Parents and guardians finally realize that their daughters and sons “cannot be cured”-only educated!
Only many, many tiring years of educating will help their son or daughter to have the same life and respect as a normal person who happens to be “slow”.