Hannah Dudley

Hannah Dudley (1864 – 1931) was a Methodist mission sister who worked amongst Indo-Fijians in the Suva area of Fiji for 13 years. She had few educational qualifications but was revered for her kind-heartedness and self-sacrifice. Indo-Fijians in Suva called her Hamari Mataji (Our Honoured Mother). She did her work with dedication but was sometimes eccentric and independent minded.

Hannah Dudley was born in 1864 in Morpeth, New South Wales, Australia. She served as a teacher in New South Wales before joining the British Methodist Missionary Society as a mission sister in India. She worked hard, without regard to her health and after six years her health broke down. She returned to Australia for medical treatment and was refused permission to serve in India again on medical grounds.

In February, at the Conference for Overseas Missions, she heard of the need for a mission sister for Indian work in Fiji. She offered her services and with her knowledge of Urdu was happily accepted. Women's organisations linked to the Methodist Church in Australia raised funds for her trip and she arrived in Fiji on 24 August 1897. There were no facilities to accommodate her in Suva, and being determined to live close to the Indians, she found a room with a verandah in the Indian quarter of Suva.

She established the first school for Indian children in Suva, on her verandah, where she taught Urdu and English to 40 children. Her time-table was: School from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., visiting homes from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and three nights a week of night school for young men until 9:30 p.m. On Wednesday nights she held a class for Christian instruction and on Sundays she held services on her verandah. On Sundays she also walked three miles to the local gaol to speak to 400 prisoners and pray with condemned prisoners about to be hanged. Initially, she was paid only £50 p.a. and this was raised to £75 p.a. in 1899. With this meagre sum she supported herself and later five children as well. In 1900, her mother, Lily Dudley, came to live with her and assist her in her work. This was an unofficial arrangement and Lily taught music to earn money for herself and the mission.thank you...

As the Church realised the extent of her work, erection of two native school buildings at Nausori and Davuilevu were authorised and she was allowed to use the Jublee Church for her day classes and for her Indian services on Sundays. She wanted a wooden church and collected money to have one built and it dedicated on 19 December 1901 at the site of the present Dudley High School, called the Indian Mission Hall.

During her first year of arrival in Fiji, she began adopting orphans. She started with two girls and a boy but soon the number of adopted children had grown to eleven. The most famous of these was a boy given to Hannah Dudley by his father when the mother deserted him. He took his foster-mother's name and became Raymond Dudley. He went on to become the President of the New Zealand Methodist Conference in 1956. As her adopted family grew, the Church decided to build an orphanage for her at Davuilevu but she refused to move there. In 1904 an orphanage was built at Davuilevu, called The Dudley Orphanage for Indian Children.

This page was last edited on 30 October 2017, at 04:12.
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_Dudley under CC BY-SA license.

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