mercredi 13 avril 2011


Almost 20 years since I was presented to HRH Princess of Wales (Diana to you and me!) on 13 June 1991 directly after my last Final BSc Degree exam, which I started at 6am. She had amazing eyes and I was so nervous that I forgot to wish her a happy Birthday for 1st July, which is also mine. She would have been 50 this year and so proud to see her son William marry, no doubt.

Rev Dr Tony Lloyd, my boss at The Leprosy Mission (TLM) who travelled extensively with Princess Diana when she was TLM's patron, said that by shaking hands with, and comforting, a leprosy sufferer Diana did more for the cause of leprosy in 3 minutes than TLM had done in 150 years. Within an hour the pictures and footage of this had been beamed around the world.

I interviewed Dr VJ Kumar, the surgeon who'd shown Diana around TLM's hospital at Anandaban, near Kathmandu, when I toured India in the autumn of 2000. Seeing such talented individuals give their lives and sacrifice their careers to help the poorest of the poor was amazing and the epitomy of a Christ-like work.

Had somebody told me that almost nine years after meeting Princess Diana, I would be working for one of her favourite charities then I would have recommended they see a doctor. But life is sometimes like that. We never know what wonderful things God has in store for us.

After interviewing Pastor John Arul, who runs an ever-expanding orphanage in Tamil Nadu, in Salisbury in 1999, he prayed that I would one day see his work. Exactly a year afterwards I was meeting him at the airport in Madurai, southern India.

John's orphans all slept on concrete floors and were so beautiful. As well as feeding and clothing them, John also educated them. They were all so happy to be away from the clutches of ruthless begging gangs, who gauge these little ones' eyes out so that they can beg for them. One dear little girl, Priya, who was then aged about seven , said to me, 'Will you pray for me Uncle Simon?'

After praying for her there and then, I hugged her and said I would continue to do so.

Meeting Princess Diana in 1991 helped me secure the Editor job at TLM. Touring India and the Far East to see TLM's work and interview medical staff increased my appetite for helping the poor.

Personal experience suggests that we can only really be fulfilled in our working lives if we are making a difference and improving the lot of those most in need.

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