The philosophy of Frank C Brown
Frank C Brown, who has been making significant contributions for the last 35 years in the character development of children, their education and building their future, is a dynamic, hardworking, extremely humble, far sighted and brilliant Scottish citizen. Those who travel by rail from Jolarpetta to Tirupathur could not miss the YMCA premises including the playground on the left quit near the Jolarpet station. The premises which had cost lakh is the result of Brown’s efforts for several years. About 130 students belonging to different religions and castes are staying and studying there. Nearby is a Boys’ Home where there are 26 inmates and a 15 acre farm owned by the YMCA.
This six feet tall healthy westerner wearing a half sleeve shirt and bordered dhoti has a typical Keralaite look. As in the case of his dress, the diet of Frank is also equally simple. He takes his three times daily food along with children who he considers and takes care as part of his life. This engineer has a typical skill, better than a doctor of psychology to directly understand the problems of each child and solve them. Even with a little stammering he could easily handle Tamil language.
Brown who reaches the office at 6.30 am every day works till 8 M. He does not have either a stenographer or a typist despite the fact that he has a lot of correspondence to handle. Most of the important letters he types himself with a single finger. He himself handles the accounts relating to thousands of rupees.
Coming to India
Brown who got acquainted with Dr Earnest Forester Paton, the founder of the Christukalasharam of Tirupattur soon after his training at Albian Motor Works in Glasgow, came to India as an engineer at the age of 21 along with him. At the age of 12 itself Brown was aware his mother’s desire to see him as a priest. This might have been a reason why he accepted the invitation of Dr Paton.
While staying in the Ashram he was concerned about creating an atmosphere conducive for the character development of the children of Indian villages. Brown who witnessed the plight of the children who did not have a place to stay and reeling under starvation and poverty decided to commit his entire life to them.
Sacrificing whatever he had, Brown focused on the character development of the children in and around Tirupattur. It was only a small beginning. He strived tirelessly to make the Tirupattur YMCA’s boys’ division great and unique in many ways. It was from nothingness that he had built up that institution. Brown’s effort resulted in getting funds from as many as 27 countries.
A big boy
What Brown says about the way of handling problems of children is really noteworthy. There are certainly rays of hope if you take the child into confidence and act accordingly irrespective of how many times he had disappointed you and belittled you through his words. He will improve. There will be changes in him as years go by. It might be your confidence in him and advises that act as guiding factors on him. Many of the problematic children have reached high position in the later years of their life. It was by taking into account this fact that he had chalked out several programmes for the Children. Sports and games are the major focus of the children’s programmes of Brown who believes in Plato’s contention that he could know more of a person from a hour’s play time than from a year long conversation. He makes the children to work in the farms to make them understand the value of labour. They only are cleaning the premises. The usual discussions and other programmes are all meant to impart them the necessary training in the democratic arena.
Brown himself took me around the Boys’ Home which has 26 inmates, the farm and the Ashram where he was initially staying in Tirupattur. The Boys home can now stand on its own legs with the income from the farm even if the assistance coming from abroad comes to a halt. Moreover a workshop has been set up with a cost of Rs 43,000 for giving technical training to the children. Also there is a poultry unit. Important among other social services led by Brown are a first aid class and a type writing institute.
It was in a rented premises without any special facilities that Brown had started the Boys’ division of the Tirupattur YMCA which is now world famous. Till 1945 the cots and chairs were wooden boxes. The present building took 10 years to complete. Brown himself was the architect, contractor and labourer of the building. The funds for the institution which did not get any funds from the government were met through the generous contributions from abroad.
“Appa’s letter has come from London”; both hope and enthusiasm was writ large on his face when that young man said these words with tears of joy. This is about the letter Bishop Njanadasan who was undergoing treatment for brain tumor had written to his son from the Royal Marsdon Hospital in London last week. Even expert doctors were afraid whether he would escape from the clutches of death. I watched tears dropping from his eyes. The ailing CSI moderator and the bishop of the Kanayakumari diocese is now undergoing specialsied treatment in London. He has written a letter each to his son Jonathan who was working at the Ecumenical center in Bangalore and his daughter who was doing house surgency at the CSI hospital in Bangalore.
Bishop Njanadasan was elected as moderator of the church by the CSI synod held in Bangalore in 1972. But the very next month he was admitted the Velloor Medical College Hospital due to brain tumor. It was in Early March, the Bishop who was intermittently unconscious and in coma was taken to London. In a surgery conducted on sixth March a major portion of the tumor was removed from the brain. The Bishop is expected to return to India in June first week after undergoing six and a half week’s radiation therapy.
On April 20 his wife Jay Njanadasan has written a thanksgiving letter to all those who have expressed their love and concern to them through letters, telegrams and personal visits while her husband was bedridden.
In her letter this is how the Kanyakumari diocese which put a lot of pressure on him to proceed to England for treatment was referred- the most heartening expression of a diocese’s love and concern for its bishop! It’s historical! (Several lakhs have already been spent by the diocese for his treatment in London). Dr Sayed Ali, Director of the International Cancer Centre at Neyoor had also accompanied the Bishop to London. About him the letter says: “we cannot forget the wonderful love of Dr Sayed towards us. What else can a human being do other than dedicating his time, energy, influence and contacts for his friend. Our family’s obligation to him is beyond words”.