For over 50 years, Albella’s mission has been to care for under-privileged children by providing free boarding, lodging, clothing, education and medical assistance, irrespective of cast, creed or race. To bring up such children in the knowledge of God and instill the dignity and honour of all kinds of work to make them better citizens of India.
Albella Boys Home and school are run on Christian values by an all-Indian staff, mostly Gurkhas, happily co-existing with the predominantly Hindu culture of the region. Albella gives free education to over 240 boys, mostly aged 5-19, having lost one parent, and sometimes both. It also gives education to 40 non-resident girls.
History of Albella
Albella, meaning ‘unique’ in Sanskrit, was founded in 1961 by two missionaries, Tom and Barbara Pratten, from Dorset, England. They began their mission in the early 1950s at Pedong on the Tibetan border, giving medical assistance to Tibetans fleeing after the Chinese takeover. Tom died in 1997 (and his grave can be seen in Albella’s grounds) and Barbara in 1999, but the home they founded continues to thrive.
Over the years several new buildings have been added, including its own primary school. By the end of 2016, Albella will be supporting and educating nearly 290 boys and girls, of whom 141 will be resident boys.
Where is Albella?
The Boys Home is in the far north east of India, at Kalimpong, Darjeeling district. Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain, can be seen from the home but Everest is hidden. The altitude is 4500 feet, requiring warm clothes in the cold winter November to March, but unlike Darjeeling, a three hour jeep ride away, the temperatures never fall below zero and it never snows.
Buildings and Facilities
Albella has two sites, separated by a two minute walk. The main, Senior site, houses all secondary boys, along with the Principal and his wife. It includes a kitchen, dining hall that can hold 140, and a 200 seat hall for meetings, prayers and study.
Bonami Primary School
The Junior site, called Bonami, houses nearly 50 junior boys. The Bonami Primary School also located on this site has over 160 pupils, including 100 ‘day scholars’.
The Junior Boys site, Bonami, has recently been extended, adding an additional floor to provide more dormitory space.
The original bungalow on the site has been refurbished to include a new library and computer room.
Water supply can be a problem in this region. Mains water supply varies so Albella has invested in underground and rooftop storage tanks to harvest the heavy rain in the monsoon season.
With frequent earthquakes and landslides there is always maintenance work to be done, but the garden provides a good crop of fresh vegetables and two cows supply milk for the boys several times a week.