The Pauline King Corner

pk.pngPauline King went to India as a medical missionary in 1955 with what today is the United Church of Christ/Global Ministries. In 1969 she founded the Family Village Farm, a living community for orphans, elderly and the destitute. Pauline King touched many lives in India and around the world, including in the U.S. with her caring ministry that spanned several decades

We invite you to share your own memories and stories about Pauline King's life and ministry through "The Pauline King Corner" on Global Ministries. We will add photos and stories as we receive them. You may submit your postings to "The Pauline King Corner" to gifts@dom.disciples.org

To offer your support for the work of the Family Village Farm today, please click here. 
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On This Page:

Remembrances of Pauline King
A Letter About Pauline King and the beginnings of the Family Village Farm
From Pauline's Niece
Article: Small Town Girl's Determination Changes India Forever 
Commemorative booklet on Pauline King from Family Village Farm

 

 Remembrances of Pauline King

Remembrance of Pauline King from Mrs. Dorothy Kiewit shared during the visit of the Principal of the King’s Matriculation School, Ms. Vatsala Vijayakumar to the United States in April 2012.

April 2012

Dear Ms. Vatsala,

We met Wednesday evening, April 25th, at the church inBath,Ohio.  We were thrilled with your presentation of Katpadi Village Farm and the large school.  We were moved to tears to see the wonderful growth of the facilities and school.  I well remember sitting around our kitchen table with Pauline King as she told us of her dream and prayers for a place to shelter orphans and abandoned women that could live together as families in a Christian atmosphere – not just an orphanage.  What a dream!  Nothing seemed too big or impossible to her – it would be done with much prayer and help from her church and many friends.  We knew she would do it – but we never dreamed it would grow to the wonderful village farm and the tremendous, fully equipped school of which you are the principal.  God did answer the prayers of a tiny, soft-spoken Christian nurse.

It was a pleasure meeting you and our prayers will go with you as you return to Katpadi.

Sincerely,

Dorothy Kiewit

December 2008

How do you thank someone for having such an influence on your life? How do express in words the gratitude you have for a woman that meant so much to you and you are who you are because of her and all that she did for you? This is my way of thanking a woman who had such an impact on my life. My life would not be what it is, if it weren't for Dr. Pauline King. If it weren't for her I would not have the family that I have and the life experiences that I have shared. If it weren't for her I wouldn't have met the man of my dreams and would have missed out on marrying my soul mate. My name is Rachel Beck and this is the connection and story of how Dr. Pauline King influenced my life. I will be forever grateful to her.

It is with great honor, that I am writing this and I hope that it gives you a glimpse of the kind of incredible women that she was. She has helped many children and orphans and I am one of the many that she made a difference in. I have been lucky to have many papers that contain what the beginning of my life was like and it is because of my parents that I have a few keys to my past and my time spent at Family Village Farm.

I was born on March 16, 1976, to a biological father and mother. It's the correspondence between Dr.King and my parents that I am able to share this story with you. My biological mother passed away when I was two days old and it was a man who took me to Dr.King. That was in May of 1976. I was extremely dehydrated, and had been vomiting and nauseous and almost unconscious.  That is when he passed me over to Dr. King. Dr. King named me Vijaya Lakshmi. It was through her work with my parents in the United States, that she was able to have me adopted. I remained at Family Village Farm till I left for the United States in 1977. I was ten months old.

It was her labor and care for me that enabled me to get to my family. She was also working hard to get the nursery built while she was teaching at the College of Nursing. My parents had hired a lawyer in Madras and Dr. King was going back and forth to see how she could facilitate the adoption, she was in hope that if my adoption went through, then it would open the door for more adoptions.   She worked hard at getting me my Visa and passport and all the paperwork that was required for the adoption.

What is amazing is that all the letters and wires that were passed from Dr. King to my parents have been preserved with her original handwriting. I will be forever grateful to her for her work and effort that was put forth for my adoption. I was adopted by a wonderful family and have lived a great life and I know that it was all due to Dr. Pauline King. When she was in America she came to visit me twice. It shows how dedicated she was to my happiness. I thank her for everything. I hope that when you read this you can feel how truly blessed I feel to have had her in my life. I hope that it will help you to help other children that are at Family Village Farm.

I have enjoyed reading the pieces and personal memories on the Pauline King Corner and invite you to share more by sending your memories of Dr. King to gifts@dom.disciples.org for posting on the Pauline King Corner. You can send a personal message to the same e-mail and our friends of Global Ministries will forward it to me. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Rachel Beck

  

 A letter about Pauline King and the beginnings of Family Village Farm

August 2008

From Reverend Paul B. Kiewit, retired UCC pastor

We well remember the relationship Dorothy and I had with Pauline during those first formative years in the late ‘60s when her dream, which she had been sharing with us in person, began to be realized. She came to the states to begin her doctoral studies at Columbia, so she could start a Master’s program in the School of Nursing at the Vellore Hospital, (and thereby challenge the best student(s) to get their PhD so they could replace her when she left). This she did, and one of her competent Indian students later came to Columbia, got her own advanced degree, returned, and eventually took over.

During this period we often spoke and corresponded as to what we, and her home church, Grace UCC in Akron, might do to be helpful. In early 1968 the congregation decided to raise the sum of $6,000 which she had indicated would be enough to build the first duplex cottage at what she would call the Family Village Farm. In those days she planned that each side of the double would house a “family unit” consisting of 8 or 10 children and a mother (perhaps an abandoned wife who was discovered sitting under a tree begging, with a child or two. Added to this grouping was an older couple…the grandparent image…also persons with extreme problems who could be helpful in this new “family” design. This was an interesting concept which worked quite well. Other things, like drilling a well for good water, were provided by others to whom she had spoken during her busy furlough days.


Dorothy and I still vividly recall our visit to see her in the fall of ‘68 when Pauline drove us out of Vellore; then off the main road for several miles. Suddenly we stopped and Pauline said, “Well, here it is.” It was a very desolate piece of real estate, like so much of rural India. We walked around a bit, watching out for snakes, and Paul gave her the check from her home church to build “Grace” cottage.

The cottage was essentially to be a duplex. Each side to contain a large common room for daytime activities; which at night became the large bedroom for the children, each on their own mat. A small private room was adjacent for the older couple, but as we remember it, the “mother” slept in the large room with the children. At the rear of the cottage was a kitchen with water piped in from the well. Also there was a small room which served as a “showering” room (soap up and pour water over you from the nearby bucket to rinse off), something which was quite foreign to most of the residents.

Four years later in the fall of 1972 we returned, with a group from the states, to find Katpadi “in operation” with two cottages and several outbuildings; and another cottage, not quite completed. This was to be “Trinity Cottage” provided by Trinity United Church of Christ in Canton where I had become pastor. This congregation was now also interested in Pauline and her Family Village Farm idea and they gave $7,000 as part of the church’s centennial celebration. The group gathered in front of the soon-to-be-occupied home, for its dedication. This was cottage number 3.


In 1972 the UCC had given money for a new “piggery” at the boys agricultural school very near the Family Village Farm. Since we would be in the neighborhood, I was asked by the mission board to be its representative. So on the same Sunday afternoon of the Trinity cottage dedication, Pauline and the group from the states went down the road to the school where about a hundred boys had gathered. A drape covered the dedication plaque, and when I opened it I was very surprised to find my name and date, etc., had been inscribed there! However, the moment that “broke up” the crowd, (both the boys and the visiting group) was when it was indicated that I was to put …with some ceremony…two squealing piglets through the gate into the first pen to complete the dedication.

I am not a farmer and I indicated to the boys who were holding the little pigs with their four feet stuck straight out, that they should do the honors. But no…that is not how it was to be done. You did the dedication, you handle the pigs! And so, without much ceremony, but to roars of laughter and the great amusement of the boys and all the adults present, I deposited the pigs, now squealing at the top of their lungs, through the open gate. And the place was dedicated!

Cordially,
Paul B. Kiewit

 

 From Pauline's Niece

January 2007:

My name is Karen King Sauerbrey.  I am the niece of Pauline King.  I am the daughter of her brother Orville.  Orville passed away quite a number of years ago.  I was quite pleased and surprised to see a website about my Aunt Polly.  Yes, my Aunt was a very special lady and I loved her very much.  She and I did a lot of neat things together.  I was very shy at the age of six, Aunt Polly said I should get over my shyness.  She signed me up for dance lessons at age six, paid for the year, and I loved it.  I am now 59 years of age and I still am dancing, for fun, course.

Thank you for the info and information you are providing for Aunt Polly. 

God Bless,  Karen King Sauerbrey 

August 18, 2008

From Reverend Raymond L. Brown of Selinsgrove, PA

Thank you so much for the comprehensive article of "THE PROTESTANT MOTHER THERESA", Pauline King.   Having followed her great work since ca. 1985, having met her in Fla. in 1988, she has inspired me personally throughout my seminary studies.  Now retired (age 72), keeping up with new info about her and Family Village Farm are "Favorites" on our computer.

Again thank you and keep up the inspiring work of sharing about devoted mainstream Christians through out all creation.

Rev. Ray Brown, Selinsgrove, Pa.  PCC. 

 

Small Town Girl’s Determination Changes India Forever

Public Health Educator Provides Dignity and Hope for India’s Poor
By Elizabeth Wolfe and Jennifer Wolfe Guidry

This article, along with pictures, newspaper articles, and newsletters of Pauline King can be found on this website dedicated to Pauline King created by Elizabeth Wolfe and Jennifer Wolfe Guidry

Pauline King was a small town girl from rural Pennsylvania who literally changed the lives of thousands of the sick, abandoned, and forlorn in India, giving them dignity and hope in a world that had discarded them.

Never married, Dr. King adopted five children on her own and provided homes for hundreds more on the Family Village Farm near Vellore, India. The Farm, established by King in 1969, gives orphans, widows, and elderly people the dignity of a clean home, education, and the ability to work to improve their lives. Everyone there called her, simply, “Mummy.”

A missionary and public health educator in post-war India, her philosophy was, “I may not be able to do much, but I can do something. And, if I do what I can, maybe others will help.” It was with that thought in mind that she took in her first destitute family and began changing the lives of thousands without hope through the Family Village Farm.

“In very concrete terms she did something that made a difference in people's lives,” said Eric Gass, a fellow missionary and an executive with the United Church Board for World Ministries, which supported King’s work in India.

Her approach was different because it was immensely practical, he said. She not only tended to people’s physical well-being, but their mental and spiritual health as well. She believed in giving people useful skills so they had a purpose to their lives and could become contributing members of society.

King worked for many years as a professor and public health nurse at the Christian Medical College and Hospital in Vellore, and she managed the Family Village Farm until her retirement in 1988. In 1979, King was honored by India with the President’s Award for meritorious service to the community, one of the highest honors bestowed to India’s citizens.

“She was the Protestant Mother Teresa,” said the Rev. Edith Wolfe, former Executive Secretary for the Women’s Board of Missions for the Pacific Islands in Honolulu, HI, and a long-time friend of King. The Board of Missions was one of the supporters of the United Church Board for World Ministries.

A memorial service for King, who died at the age of 83 on January 19, 2002 in her adopted daughter’s home in Huntingdon, Long Island, was held at the Interchurch Center on Riverside Drive in New York City on Saturday, February 19, 2002. A memorial service was held on the Family Village Farm on January 29, and was attended by hundreds of Indian officials, citizens, and former residents of the Farm.

Much of what is known about King’s life in India is documented in the newsletters that King wrote and mailed to hundreds of subscribers around the world during her stay in India. Additional information was gathered on King’s last two trips to India, in 1992 and 1994, for which the Women’s Board of Missions in Hawaii hired a photographer to document her journey and collect as much biographical data as possible.

Dr. King is survived by her adopted daughters, Annie Roberts of Long Island; Glory and Victoria of Saudi Arabia; Dolly of Hyderabad, India; and Rani of Ranipet, India; and one son, Selva Raj, who is married to Rani. These children were among the first she brought into her home, and she eventually became their official guardian.

The story of how she came to adopt these children is testament to the selfless assistance that she provided to others despite many obstacles.

Born in Hillsdale, Pa., on June 4, 1917, Pauline King was the youngest of four children. Her parents belonged to the Evangelical and Reformed Church (now a part of the United Church of Christ), where at the age of five she heard a missionary doctor describe his work in Africa. He told stories and showed pictures about children suffering from malnutrition and disease, and he explained how he was able to help them. From that moment on, King was determined to be a missionary and help people, especially children, in lands across the sea.

King’s family moved to the larger town of Jeannette, Pa., and her home life was happy until she reached the age of 12, when her father left the family to marry another woman. It was a devastating experience for both her and her mother, and they turned to God for solace and strength. King resolved to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a missionary rather than follow the traditional path of marriage. She said her greatest desire was for God to use her in useful service for others.

King became a registered nurse and applied to the Mission Board, but World War II broke out at the same time and the Board was not accepting applications. She decided to join the military instead and was made a flight nurse. Because she was only five feet tall, she was chosen for the job of evacuating the wounded by air. This experience helped her when faced with human tragedy.

“I knew that if I was going to be able to reach my goals I was going to have to be strong,” she once said, even though she was at first squeamish about the carnage she witnessed.

After the war she earned her bachelor’s degree from Teacher’s College at Columbia University in New York, and she began studying nurse midwifery. She was looking forward to completing the course so she could reapply to the mission board.

Again, it was not to be. Two weeks before she completed the course, King’s mother had a cerebral hemorrhage, which left her paralyzed. She felt she could not leave her mother alone, so put aside her own desires and devoted herself to taking care of her for the next five years. By the time she died, King was 37 and thought she would be considered too old to serve in the mission field.

She learned, however, that a public health nurse was needed at the Christian Medical College and Hospital in Vellore, India, and she decided to apply for the position. Thirty-three years after she had vowed to become a missionary, she was finally accepted by the United Church Board and assigned to serve in the Department of the Preventive and Social Medicine.

King arrived in India in 1955 and worked for many years educating the public on preventive health care issues. The situation there was difficult and the health problems were huge. Death was common despite the fact that help was available. In a letter, she described one typical situation. A village woman was in labor and having a difficult time. “Twitchings and convulsive movements warned of impending danger, “ King wrote. “In vain the nurse entreated the husband and family to bring her to the hospital. They did not seem to care. The husband said, ‘I can get another wife.’ Twins were born. The mother died. Life is cheap.”

Nonetheless King loved India and its people. In her first letters home, she wrote, “How can I describe my first impressions of this vast country? No matter what I have read or imagined about India, nothing quite measures up to the reality. I am fascinated and thrilled at every turn!” She found the people warm and welcoming, and she enjoyed her immersion into their society.

King was the first public health nurse at the hospital and designed the teaching program for public health nurses at the Christian Medical College. King helped to establish the first rural health hospital in association with the College. Through her work, thousands of people learned about preventive health practices and had access to better care than they had previously experienced.

King also founded the Audio Visual Unit at the hospital, which used a silkscreen process to prepare posters, flannel graphs, flashcards, and other teaching aids for educating her patients and the public. In today’s world of computers, these methods may seem antiquated, but at the time this was almost revolutionary. The materials found a wide market in India at a time when the government was establishing primary health centers throughout India.

What made the Unit particularly unusual was that it was operated by young men who had undergone surgery to correct deformities in their hands or feet caused by leprosy. This program provided these leprosy patients with a productive way to earn a living and to be rehabilitated.

“She just got things done,” said Gass. “She didn't let real or perceived obstacles deter her. When she was convinced of something she just went ahead and did it regardless of naysayers.“

King took a furlough in the United States in 1960 and was awarded a research fellowship from the U.S. Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare. This enabled her to complete her doctoral studies at Columbia University. Upon her return to Vellore in January 1963, she was appointed Associate Professor in Community Health and Nursing Research in the College of Nursing. She continued to serve in the Department of Community Health Nursing and assisted with teaching in this field.

By 1963, King was encountering daily scenes of human despair in the form of beggars in the streets, “many of whom are diseased, crippled, blind, and often homeless,” as she described in letters back to the United States. “They seem to live there on the sidewalk, and it hurts to see them daily as you come and go through the gate to the hospital, and you try to console yourself in the fact that you are doing what you can, but it is never enough.”

King began to feel uncomfortable with merely teaching and preparing others to function effectively in the health field, which was indicated by her letters. She wanted to do more; she wanted to become personally involved in the life of this marginalized community.

“After days of prayer and asking God’s guidance,” she decided that she would choose one beggar family, investigate their circumstances, and see what she could do to help them.

She saw a little girl in the bazaar near the hospital carrying a sign that said, “I am a Christian, my father is blind, please help me.” She found the girl’s parents living under a tree along with the 8-year-old daughter Victoria and a second daughter, 3-year-old Dolly. The father had been blinded three years before from an illness, and had come to the area hoping to receive treatment at the hospital. They had no family nearby and were destitute.

The wife, however, had a high school education and was able to speak several languages. Dr. King employed her as a clerk in the hospital admissions office as an interpreter. For the husband, she found a job making matchboxes. This help enabled the family to afford to move from under the tree to a single room mud hut in the village.

“It has been thrilling to watch the transformation of this family, from the depths of despair to the radiance born of hope,” King wrote.

Some months later the woman became pregnant again. When Glory, the baby, was nine months old, the mother suddenly became sick with typhoid fever and to King’s dismay, died shortly afterwards. On her hospital bed, with King by her side, the woman asked her to take care of her children. At the time Dolly was five and Victoria was 10.

Since the father was blind and unable to care for his children, King convinced him to place Dolly and Victoria in a boarding school. She took Glory into her own home. The father visited with his children on weekends.

The news of this “adoption” by King spread quickly, according to her newsletters. Soon, many more people were coming to her for help. Through prayer and determination, she found places for many of these destitute children. At one point, she took five children into her own home for a period of about one year, until their parents were able to care for them again. After she became Glory’s guardian, she also took in Rani, Selva Raj, and finally Annie. These children, along with Dolly and Victoria, she considered her own.

When asked why she began taking in these children, she said, “I thought it was about time to start raising a family.” She was 48 years old at the time.

By 1969, she had decided to create a place where orphans, destitute women, and the elderly without means of support could live together and support themselves. She sought funding and, after many false starts, was finally able to break ground for the Family Village Farm for the Young and Old, or Mudhiyor Balar Kudumba Grama Pannai, as it is known locally.

“It was against all logic that I was moved late in life to take on this rather awesome responsibility,” she wrote. In fact, it was a time when mission institutions were closing down for lack of funds and personnel. But King felt she had to follow “the urge of her conscience.”

Through the generous support of many American sponsors, the Family Village Farm has grown to house over 150 children ranging in age from 6 months to 18 years old, as well as a number of women and elderly people. Many more have graduated to become productive members of Indian society.

The Farm is designed to encompass all aspects of a child’s life, including education. Its mission is “the translation of the love of God in action by providing a healthy environment in which the physically, socially and spiritually deprived may find new life and hope for the future.”

The children live in “cottages,” run by a “cottage mother.” These women are usually widows who have been rejected by society, or else considered to be “unmarriageable” women. Each cottage has eight to ten children, both boys and girls. It also holds several elderly people as well, who create the sense of a larger extended family for the children. In these cottages they take their meals and study together. They also have work responsibilities such as sweeping, caring for the grounds, and gathering firewood.

There is a certified school on the Farm premises, which educates not only the children at the Farm, but also provides the service to nearby village children. At later ages, some children go to boarding school to continue their education, while other children, usually boys, may go to a trade school to learn a vocation. Some of the girls, if they are not showing promise with their studies at school, attend the garment-making unit. Here they learn the trade of sewing. The garment-making unit furnishes all the school uniforms and other clothing for the Farm. Occasionally they may contract outside sewing work for other schools or the CMC hospital.

The children who are admitted to the Farm are either orphans or have only one surviving parent, who is unable to care for them. Some parents may later become able to care for their children again, through better life circumstances, and the children are returned to them. More commonly, when the children reach the age of 18, if they are boys, they leave to find work and, if they are girls, they are married and settled into a new home.

Throughout her later years, King traveled the world sharing the story of her work in India and seeking the support of missions that served on the United Church Board for World Ministries.

Rev. Wolfe recalls the first time she met King. She was coming to speak to the Women’s Board of Missions, and when she walked up to the podium, Rev. Wolfe was stunned.

“I had heard so much about her, about all the things that she had done, that I was amazed when this modest, unassuming woman began to talk. I thought to myself, “That’s Pauline King? The great Pauline King?” But as I listened to her speak, I realized what the power of one person’s determination could be.”

Donations in the name of Dr. King can be made to the Family Village Farm by contacting the United Church Board Wider Church Ministries at 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 55115, or by calling Linda Lawrence at 216-736-3222.

Click here to donate online to Family Village Farm

Elizabeth Wolfe was the photographer that documented King’s return to India and collected much of the biographical data used in this story. Jennifer Wolfe Guidry is a writer who has worked with Wolfe to document King’s story.

Contact info: Elizabeth Wolfe, 212-579-1282, lwolfe@wintecgroup.com  21 West 86th Street, #212, New York, NY 10023 

 

 

 Commemorative Booklet on Pauline King's life from the Family Village Farm

In 2017, the Family Village Farm celebrated the 100th year anniversary of Pauline King's birth. The Family Village Farm posthumously awarded Pauline King with the President's Award for meritorious service to the community, one of the highest honors bestowed to India's citizens. View the commemorative booklet, celebrating and remembering Pauline King, created by the Family Village Farm.

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