Office: Lonsdale Chambers, 27, Chancery Lane, W.c.
One of the most crying needs of the women of India and China is for help in time of sickness. During a discussion on medical missions at the Pan-anglican Congress, the Bishop of Lahore said that "if the Womanhood of Christian England realised the amount of suffering and misery due to unskilled treatment by native doctors on the one hand, and the inability to call in qualified men's aid on the other, they would rise up in their strength and send out medical missionaries on an adequate scale to relieve the physical suffering, and to brighten the lives of their sisters in every part of the Empire."
The Need for Medical Women Workers
Dr. Mary Scharlieb, speaking at the same meeting, said it seemed perfectly incredible to her that the terrible need for medical women workers in such countries as India, China, and many other Eastern lands should be so little realised at home.
A stuffy, dark room, full of noisy women, children, goats, dogs, and chickens - a woman with perhaps a broken leg or some excruciating disease, lying in agony, huddled up on a bed too short for her, yet moaning to her gods that she may not die. This is the kind of scene which soon becomes familiar to the medical missionary of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society. Whether the patient is a "pardah lady" (secluded in a zenana) or not, her condition is much the same, so far as adequate medical attention is concerned. The gross ignorance and superstition prevailing in Eastern countries on the subject of disease, its cause and its cure, is almost incredible.
The "Mother of Death"
We are told that the most popular village deities are the "mothers" who have specially to do with diseases. It is considered that the two hundred and fifty thousand people who die annually in India from smallpox owe their deaths chiefly to the smallpox goddess called the "Mother of Death." She is supposed to scatter the seeds of this terrible disease for her amusement, and would be enraged if people were to be vaccinated. Cholera, ophthalmia, and other diseases are also said to be administered to the people by gods, who must not be offended. The British Government has been actively fighting these "gods" for many years, and thousands of Indian medical men trained according to the most up-to-date medical and surgical science are to-day valiantly assisting them. But so far they have only reached the mere fringe of India's millions, and the women scarcely at all.
Ignorant and prejudiced native doctors still abound. Of every six babies born into the world, one is born in India. What is the fate of its mother?
In her book "Behind the Pardah" - the story of the C.e.z.m.s. work in India - Miss Irene Barnes tells us that, "after the birth of a child a Hindu woman is kept in a very small, close, dark room, with a fire - which is generally placed in a brazier under her bed - and without any possibility of fresh air; on the next day she is given a cold bath, and returned to her cell like a prisoner. For three days after her baby's birth she is allowed nothing but a little water, perhaps with a little bread soaked in it."
The untold suffering caused in innumerable cases owing to the absence of adequate medical assistance can easily be imagined. No man doctor may enter a zenana. The utmost he is allowed is to see a tongue or feel a pulse through a slit in a curtain. The advice of many native doctors is often more harmful than beneficial. Many a woman is starved to death because her doctor considers food prejudicial to fevers, and she is taught that should she drink milk when feverish her soul would go into a snake if she died.
In China things are no better. Most of the doctors are men who have failed to qualify as schoolmasters. Among the remedies enumerated in a Chinese standard medical work are dried silkworm moth, asbestos, blacklead, dog's flesh, and tortoise-shell. Preparations. of human bones, red marble, and old copper cash are also considered by the Chinese to be suitable for invalids. In China, too, we find not only the ordinary ills which flesh is heir to, accentuated a hundredfold through ignorance, but also opium-smoking and all its attendant horrors. The late Miss Hessie Newcombe wrote home in one of her letters: " I much doubt if there is any place where the opium has not penetrated. I can only speak from experience of one of the provinces. One of my own teachers compared its ravages to the last plague of Egypt, as she said there was scarcely a family without one victim to this awful scourge. When she questioned me with horror as to the report that this poison came from England, I did not dare to tell her the whole truth, that our Christian Government obtained a portion of its revenue from the sale. I only said that there were men in England and elsewhere who love money more than God, but that truly Christian people were very sorry for the Chinese." Throughout China those in authority are now resolutely setting themselves to extirpate this evil. Foremost in the crusade are those who have come most in touch with Christian teaching.
Sa Muai, aged seven, a little Chinese schoolgirl.
Thousands of little girls are flocking into the mission schools in China, where the era of reform is now dawning
Medical missionaries are also called upon to render assistance in helping those women who wish to abandon the terrible practice of foot-binding. Here, again, the teaching of the Christians on this subject is being echoed by the authorities, and a vigorous anti-foot-binding crusade has been started. Nearly every little girl in China has her feet bandaged as soon as she is six years old, in order that they may grow no more, but even be reduced in size, that when she is grown up her movements may be as the "waving of a willow-tree." The size of her feet is far more likely to enable a girl to make a "good marriage" than her cleverness or beauty. It is impossible to realise the agony endured by a child until her feet can be fitted into a shoe only two and a half inches long. The four small toes are bound under the foot until they grow into it. and the heel is drawn forward over them as far as possible. Unfortunately, all classes, except women of bad character and the labouring women who work in the fields, bind their feet, so it is extremely difficult to persuade parents to leave their daughters' feet unbound; but every year more of them are realising the cruelty and senselessness of such a custom. A great many are still influenced by monetary considerations, as the amount to be obtained when selling a daughter in marriage depends chiefly upon the size of her feet.
" Famine girls" at Jabalpur after their rescue and adoption by Christian charity, with "Salome" in the centre. A girl can be supported for £4 5s. a year in an Indian school
The Work Done by the C.e.z.m.s.
The society has twenty-one hospitals and forty-seven dispensaries. At these about 300.000 attendances of out-patients were registered in 1909. Over 5,600 in-patients were received, and about 13,000 more were visited in their own homes.
The C.m.b. Diploma
The Clapham School of Midwifery, London, prepares women who wish to complete their training as nurses or as missionaries going abroad, for the examination of the Central Midwives' Board by a three months' course. The cost is: Entrance fee, one guinea; training, ten guineas; board and residence, fifteen guineas. Inclusive cost, twenty-six guineas. Training can also be obtained at St. John's House, Battersea, London (inclusive cost, twenty-three guineas), or at any of the many other midwifery schools throughout the country.
A C.e.z.m.s. missionary says: "No medical woman need think that she will lose medical advantages by going abroad. Her opportunities will be far greater, and the number of her patients far larger than if she stayed at home."
And this in addition to the privilege of taking the light of the Gospel into the dark places of the earth, It is, a revelation to non-christian minds that medical missionaries should care to tend sick and suffering women. They cannot understand at first what makes the missionaries come, nor why they think it worth while to try to heal their diseases; but they learn in time, and realise the love which has brought them. A blind woman in China who became a Christian was asked what first made her decide to worship God, and she answered: "It was the great love which sent a chair to bring me to the hospital when I was too weak and ill to walk, and the love and care I had when there, which made me think it must be a good religion, and made me willing to listen to what I was taught."
Cost of a Medical Outfit
"I was sick and ye visited me." It is not given to all to have these words said to them. Many cannot personally visit the sick, but some, if they realised the need, could send substitutes in those who are able and willing to go but have not the means to provide themselves with necessary training, outfit, passage, and maintenance - £30 will supply the outfit of a new missionary; £40 to 50 will pay the passage of an outgoing missionary; £60 will provide an outfit of medical and surgical instruments for a medical woman going to the mission field.
What the Medical Mission Requires
Some who are interested in this work can neither go themselves nor send a substitute, but they, too, can help, their fellow-women in India and China. There are numerous medical mission "wants" in the shape of bedding and other house-linen, bandages, eye-shades, etc., which can be made at small cost. Information with regard to these will be supplied by Miss Home, Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, 27, Chancery Lane, London, W.c.
A daily scene at Trevandrum (India). Patients waiting outside the dispensary. The medical side of mission work is of vast importance in furthering the spread of Christianity Photos by Church of England Zenana Missionary Society