Oxford Bookstore at Park Street, Kolkata, once more witnessed the launch of yet another very important book Father the biography of Rev. J.G. Stevens, OBE, and the founder of Udayan − a home for the children of leprosy patients. It was after undertaking lengthy research that Australian author Deborah Bedford released this book.

Oxford Bookstore and Calcutta Foundation made the book reading and discussion around Father a very interesting and engaging session as stories were unfolded and shared amongst all present.

Oindrilla Dutt in conversation with Deborah Bedford and Rev. J.G Stevens made the evening very captivating. As cameras clicked and books were autographed there was an air of achievement for all. The children of Udayan were present and hung around Rev. J.G. Stevens and he too seemed very comfortable to have them around sharing the prized moment.

“I have grown to love James and his wife Lalita but most of all I am inspired every day by this man who has placed his life in the Lord’s hands and dedicated himself to the poorest and the most destitute children of Kolkata. This is what I have learnt from his journey” writes Deborah Bedford. She writes “What was it that led this man to be here in Barrackpore, the outskirts of Kolkata?”

At 16, James Stevens attended a Billy Graham rally in UK which changed his life and left a mark on what he wanted to do. Years later for his work he was awarded the Legion Of Honor by the French President Francoise Mitterrand and has an OBE as well as other honors. Dominique Lapierre and more recently Steve Waugh have helped to fund the home Udayan and school for more than 50 years now. That itself is an achievement. James also worked along with Mother Teresa and spoke about the days when the children of Udayan were happy and well looked-after.

The life of Rev. J.G. Stevens rightly said “is a testament to choosing hope over fear, actions over words, love over indifference. James is a ripple who created a tsunami of change.” As the cover of the book says, Father is an inspiring story of an Englishman James Stevens who rescued thousands of the poorest children from the slums of Kolkata.

“Mother Teresa was the catalyst for me to be associated with Udayan. Father James had done an incredible job” Steve Waugh. He still supports Udayan and is closely associated with the home and takes interest in its overall welfare. He also finds time to visit the children.

The book is more than an autobiography and the inspiration one draws from it is more than you can ask for. The journey of a person wanting to reach out and touch the lives of others and also bring others into it is remarkable. Deborah Bedford has taken her time to tell the story in way that the reader would remain engaged and would leave with an impression that is stronger than the words.

Photographs by Piu Sur