This letter from 90-year-old Diana Brand, a loyal CJI donor, recalls the beginnings of Gandhi Ashram, in Darjeeling, India:
Fr Ed [McGuire] is one of my favourite “saints”; he helps me a great deal. It was in the summer of 1983 that the seed of Gandhi Ashram was planted. It started in Darjeeling. I can still remember Fr Ed showing me a piano with the keys missing and saying it was his dream to start an orchestra. I really thought he was a crazy Jesuit.
I remember getting a cable asking me to bring a certain number of instruments. Then I got another cable from Fr Ed saying he did not have his superior’s permission. Then another from the Jesuit office saying they were not paying for it. Since I know nothing about music, the idea didn’t make sense. But my son encouraged me to support the project by buying the instruments, about 25 to 30 in all.
I remember Fr Ed and Fr Sharma (now Bishop) met me in Calcutta. I stayed four or five weeks in all. When I saw how the kids handled those first instruments, I was shocked. And I still remember the first concert was given in my honour before I left – “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
I’ve kept the bills of the first instruments and the examination papers (Trinity College of Music, Leeds, England). Thank you so much for letting us know how Gandhi Ashram is doing today.