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Peter Mandal (son of a former foster child), Monita Mankhin, Bishop Samuel Sunil Mankhin (both former foster children), Reverend John Probhudan Hira in front of the KNH headquarter (photo: Ralf Krämer)

High-ranking visitors at Kindernothilfe office: former foster children from Bangladesh in Duisburg

It happens from time to time that Kindernothilfe employees meet former sponsored children in partner countries. But it is very, very rare that they come to our office. So we were all the more delighted when two of them came in September - and they brought the son of another former godchild with them!

Text: Gunhild Aiyub, photos: Ralf Krämer

Bishop Samuel S. Mankhin, his wife Monita and the director of the St. Andrew's Theological College had travelled from Bangladesh to Karlsruhe because of the General Assembly of the Ecumenical World Council of Churches. There they passed by the Kindernothilfe booth, which was prominently positioned close to the main entrance of the Karlsruhe congress grounds. Bishop Mankhin had already come to Germany with the intention of definitely visiting the office to thank them personally. "Without the support of my sponsors and Kindernothilfe, I would not be in the position I have reached today," he said. His small group was joined by Peter, who comes from the same church community as the others and is studying in Göttingen. His father had also gone through the sponsorship program and today heads the Christian Mission Hospital Rajshahi. The group had the booth staff explain to them how they got to Duisburg-Buchholz and then showed up at our door the next day.

Bishop Samuel Sunil Mankhin (Source: Ralf Krämer)
Bishop Samuel Sunil Mankhin (Source: Ralf Krämer)

 

Bishop Samuel S. Mankhin is the head of the Church of Bangladesh

Kindernothilfe began supporting children from poor families through local church partners in 1973 - primarily by providing accommodation in hostels. In many villages there were no schools, and the distances to the school in the next town were far too long. That's why Kindernothilfe and its partners opened hostels, dormitories for girls and boys where they could live and learn during school years. Bishop Mankhin was among the very first students to be admitted to St. Andrew's Boys Hotel in Haluaghat in Mymensingh District.

"I was in that hostel until 1983," the 59-year-old says. "The situation in Bangladesh after the 1971 Liberation War was very bad. (At the time, East Pakistan was successfully fighting to break away from West Pakistan and henceforth called itself Bangladesh). Many children had no access to education. I had lost my father and came from a poor family. St. Andrew’s Boys Hostel was the only educational opportunity for boys in our region. Among thousands of children, I was chosen by our priest and accepted into the hostel. I was lucky to get this opportunity. Otherwise, my life would have been different."

What does he remember today when he thinks back to that time? "There were happy moments," Bishop Mankhin says without thinking twice. "We played together, lived together, went to school together. And," he laughs, "we loved food! We were still of growing age, after all. We devoured everything we could get." When he was in 7th or 8th grade, he got yellow fever, which to this day can be fatal. “I almost died! But God let me survive. I got the best medical treatment imaginable, and our hostel manager also took touching care of me."

Samuel S. Mankhin studied at the University of Dhaka and did his Bachelor of Divinity at the Senate of Serampore College in India. He was ordained a priest, then a bishop, and is now the head of the Church of Bangladesh. This makes him one of the first bishops among Kindernothilfe's sponsored children!

"In addition, I am secretary of the steering committee of the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans, in which 25 archbishops worldwide are active (an association of Anglican churches)," the bishop lists. "Also president of the National Council of Churches of Bangladesh, chairman of all church hospitals and development projects nationwide, 24 primary and secondary schools, and the theological college. And I am also a primate of the Worldwide Anglican Communion among the 44 primates; the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is leading this Communion." And what he is particularly proud of is that "our church has managed to become financially independent of donors!"

There is no contact with his sponsor parents, something the 59-year-old greatly regrets. "Unfortunately, I don't know if they are still alive. They helped with my education, and I am so grateful to them for that!" 

Monita Mankhin (Source: Ralf Krämer)
Monita Mankhin (Source: Ralf Krämer)

 

Monita Mankhin now leads a community of 2,000 women

Bishop Mankhin's wife Monita (née Chambogong) spent 14 years in a Kindernothilfe hostel in the same town as her husband, Mary's Girls Hostel. "My parents were dead. My uncle, he has since died as well, told the bishop in the village about me at that time. He said I was talented, and if there was a chance of me being admitted to the hostel, it would certainly be good for my future. In 1974, I was indeed admitted and was able to go to school."

Monita Chambogong graduated from Dhaka University with a bachelor's degree in education and then worked for ten years as the headmistress of a high school with 1,600 students of all faiths. She then became education coordinator for the Bangladesh Church Synod. "I took care of 34 primary and some high schools and about 5,000 children and young people and supervised nearly 100 teachers," explains the 58-year-old. "Currently, I am Convener of the Women’s Fellowship where 2,000 mothers/women are involved. I am very grateful to God and to Kindernothilfe! Without this help, I would not have been able to complete my education and make it to my current position. I am especially grateful to my godparents, Otto and Margarete, whose last names I unfortunately don't know."

Monita and Samuel Mankhin have two children, a 30-year-old son and a 28-year-old daughter.

Peter Mandal (Source: Ralf Krämer)
Peter Mandal, his father was also a former KNH foster child (Source: Ralf Krämer)

 

Peter Mandal's father, Prodip Chand Mandal, is committed to social projects out of gratitude for Kindernothilfe's help

Prodip Chand Mandal is committed to social projects out of gratitude for Kindernothilfe's help Peter's father Prodip Chand Mandal was also a sponsored child. "My father comes from a very poor family," Peter tells us. "Thanks to Kindernothilfe, that my father was able to go to school, without Kindernothilfe it was not even possible. Through his example, I can understand how Kindernothilfe is helping girls and boys to enlightenment them."

Since childhood, Prodip Chand Mandal has been a fan of the Germany national football team during world cup games. His son tends to stick with the Brazil national football team. "We don't have a football team which could compete at international level,” Peter explains. “I asked my father, 'Why are you a fan of a German Football team?' And he answered, 'I reached my professional position because of a German organization.' His decision to send me to Germany for study is also related to this. He always has this one thought in his head: 'What I am today, I owe to Kindernothilfe from Germany!' His big dream is that one day he will also be able to visit the office here. In the info about the hospital he manages, he also mentioned Kindernothilfe."

And right, on the homepage of the hospital in Rajshah, Prodip Chand Mandal tells us: "I was mainly trained in Kindernothilfe's sponsorship program. Out of gratitude, I have worked on various projects and humanitarian services of the church throughout my professional life."

Prodip Chand Mandal studied in London, where he earned a Master of Business Administration degree with a focus on international business and development economics. He then worked as project coordinator of the Quality Development Project for Higher Education at Jahangirnagar University. In November, he was sent to the Christian Mission Hospital, of which he became the director a year later. Bischof Samuel S. Mankhin appointed him as the CEO of the Hospital. “He has been trying his best to self-sustain the hospital and serving the institution faithfully and dedicatedly”, reports the Bischop. “We have 16 regular Medical officers and 24 consultants in that hospital.”

The hospital provides services to the people of Rajshahi, surrounding village communities and districts. The primary health care services especially take care of people on the margins of society. One of the main target groups is the indigenous population.

His son Peter is studying social sciences at the University of Göttingen, and his daughter Victoria will complete her Bachelor of Science nursing course in Dhaka this year.

Reverend John Probhudan Hira (Source: Ralf Krämer)
Reverend John Probhudan Hira is director of the St. Andrew’s Theological College (Source: Ralf Krämer)

 

Reverend John Probhudan Hira: 90% of our priests have a Kindernothlfe background

Revd. Probhudan Hira is the principal of St. Andrew's Theological College which is run by the Church of Bangladesh, he was appointed by Bishop Samuel Sunil Mankhin. Besides that he is working voluntarily as a synod secretary.“I have known stories about Kindernothilfe in Germany since I was a child”, the Reverend says. “I also studied and am now also involved in the church program. 90% of our priests have a Kindernothilfe background. Therefore, maybe you can understand that you are in our heart. It is so wonderful that we get the opportunity to meet you. My main job is a director of the St. Andrew’s Theological College, I do this church work as a volunteer. We work with populations that are neglected, poor people, children who are denied their rights. To support them, to give them education.“

 

 

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