Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Jane Webb

Originally uploaded by dalbhat.
On this day, in the year 1998 we lost a dear friend of ours, Jane Webb. Though I only knew her for a short time here in Kolkata, her loving smile and true compassion for others inspired me beyond words. Jane, who became an Indian citizen just before she left to find her spirit, was the founder of RCFC (or Rehabilitation Centres for children). Mustard Seeds has been organizing small fundraising projects to help keep Jane's important work going strong. This is me with the statue of Jane that was put up on the RCFC grounds in Barasat, in south Kolkata.

Rehabilitation Centres for Children was registered as a society on 24th April, 1973 in Calcutta, India. The aim of RCFC is the treatment and rehabilitation of orthopaedically handicapped children from underprivileged families, so that these children will be able to live a fuller life and take a normal place in the society instead of being neglected, dependent, emotionally disturbed and frustrated.

Jane was the Founder Secretary and Director of the Centre. Her vision and continuous struggle for helping the disabled children to stand on their own feet is slowly but surely realised. The seed she planted with love, care and dedication more than 25 years ago, is now a grown up tree blossoming with flowers and evergrowing branches. RCFC has taken a solid root and is now a pioneer institution in the service of orthopaedically handicapped children from deprived homes.

Jane was quoted as saying, "We bought a house with a large garden in Barisha, on the outskirts of Calcutta with money donated by the German philantropic organization Christustrager Waisendienst (Aid to orphans); we repaired the house, cleaned up the garden, and started slowly. At first there was one child named Gopal from Siliguri who had lost a foot and it continued steadily after that.
Initially, we had very little idea as to how we would go about our mission or of the existing need; it was a new kind of venture for all those involved and in those very turbulent times. We found gradually that it was not always feasible to arrange for children's treatment outside the Centre; we faced too many problems as more and more children were brought to us. So, we set up an operation theatre in 1981 with attached X-ray unit. We had already been running the immunisation clinic for prevention of polio and other diseases. In 1993 our mobility aid and applicances manufacturing workshop was established. RCFC has a well-equipped 90 bedded hospital, an operation theater, X-ray unit, a physiotherapy department, a well laid out mobility aid workshop for making orthotic and prosthetic aids and a child development department which provides basic education and craft training during the treatment.
In addition to the above, there other extra-curricular activities like dance, music, drama and drawing. The craft classes include cane work and basketry, clay modelling, pottery, terracotta, mat-making, sewing, knitting, embroidery, tie-dye and batik. The overall aim of these classes is to make children develop their natural abilities and confidence. Talented children may also find a avenue for earning from the vocational trades learned at our Centre. Our involvement in various fields has increased manifold.
Simultaneously, we are expanding our activities and services to remote areas . On 23rd January, 1998, our new centre in Bolpur was inaugurated by Shri Somnath Chatterjee, MP. It was at his suggestion and insistence that the Government of West Bengal donated us land at Kalikapur where our centre stands. The Centre has been named "Miblou Jyoti Mahal" and the fund was donated by Miblou, a Swiss voluntary organization.

RCFC can be contacted at:
Rehabilitation Centres for Children
59, Motilal Gupta Road

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