English Homes in Foreign Countries - Protection of Young Girls - Princess Christian's Interest in in Various Parts of the World

The spirit of emigration is in the air, and each year increasing numbers of girls from the homeland start for distant parts of the Empire to find the means of earning a livelihood. ,

Those who go out under the auspices of reputable emigration societies receive some amount of care and supervision on leaving the country and on reaching their destination ; but there are many girls who go out on their own responsibility, and have no society at their back to appeal to in time of need. This is where the foreign department of the Young Women's Christian Association comes in to fill the gap with its homes and hostels, where friendless girls in a strange land can find shelter and advisers. A Much Needed Work These homes are not, strictly speaking, emigration homes, as they are open to those who have not gone out under emigration auspices. Yet the girls for whom they are provided are in a certain sense emigrants, though not technically coming under that designation. Numbers of educated and respectably brought up girls are now going out to India, South Africa, and even Japan, as clerks and typists and to fill other business posts ; while there are always governesses and nursery governesses going out to situations. The change in women's education in recent years has enabled girls to qualify for new posts in the business world, and, like their brothers, they leave the Old Country to try their luck in distant lands. Frequently they set out in utter ignorance of the country to which they are going, and perils beset them on landing which do not affect the young man similarly placed.

One can understand the boon that it is to a girl to know that at Calcutta, at Pretoria, or at Tokio there is an English home and English friends to whom she can go in case of need. She may, at the end of her voyage, arrive too ill to enter upon her work immediately. She may receive summary dismissal, or other casualties may happen to place her in temporary difficulties, when thus away from home and kindred ; and, again, she needs protection from evils of which she knows little. The temptations which beset lonely women in foreign cities need no comment, and these are specially dangerous to girls coming at a time when isolation in unaccustomed surroundings weakens their power of defence.

Princess Christian has long taken a deep interest in this work of the foreign department of the Y.w.c.a., and is supporting the appeal which is being made for raising a sum of 3,500 to. fulfil immediate obligations for establishing more homes and hostels, particularly in India and South Africa.

Royal Patronage

Her Royal Highness went to South Africa immediately after the war, and the sad errand of visiting the grave of her gallant soldier son did not entirely absorb her attention. She was able to judge of the state of the country at that period of desolation and upheaval, and form an idea of the difficulties which would beset the woman emigrants of the future.

Already homes have been established at Johannesburg, Durban, and Port Elizabeth, and have done splendid work for our countrywomen in South Africa, but at the present time 1,000 is urgently needed to staff the work and further means to found homes at Pretoria and Bloemfontein and other towns as they develop. The latter circumstance is a matter to be borne in mind, for population is rapidly increasing in many places which were small centres a few years ago. At Pretoria the association, by an arrangement with an existing institution, is able to offer a girl a shakedown in an emergency ; but there is urgent need of a good home for the increasing number of newcomers to this city.

There is, too, an ever-pressing need for the extension of the work in India, and much has already been accomplished. Miss Picton-warlow, now at the head of the foreign department in London, has spent some years in India, and has a very intimate knowledge of the needs of girls who are leaving home in increasing numbers to find posts in that great Eastern land. They are thrown,amongst a heathen population, on the one hand, and are often brought into touch with European life which is frivolous and lax, on the other hand. An anchorage to a Christian home with high moral influences is of the utmost importance to girls thus situated. Havens of Refuge

Governesses who have gone out to situations are occasionally cast adrift by inconsiderate employers, and are often subjected to privations and temptations while seeking a fresh situation, and, failing to find one, may be driven to a suicide's grave. To such the home or hostel is indeed a haven of safety and a centre from which they are likely to find employment. The superintendent, too, will often discover frauds practised upon attractive girls seeking situations, which they in their ignorance and innocence would not have suspected.

Yet another of many instances may be mentioned of the manner in which the association watches over the young womanhood of our country in foreign lands. The fact that girls set out with the family which has engaged their services is not always a guarantee of safety.

A Typical Case

• During their voyage to India two ladies connected with the Y.w.c.a. were attracted by a bright, lively girl of about twenty on board. She was nursery governess to the children of a major's wife, and was noticeable playing with her charges on deck. A fracas occurred with the mistress for no sufficient reason, as it appeared, and the girl was told that her services would not be required after the end of the voyage. Great sympathy was felt with her, and the ladies of the Y.w.c.a. asked her what she was going to do when she landed at Calcutta. She admitted that she had no friends to go to, but was hopeful of obtaining another situation.

"Will you come to our Y.w.c.a. home until you hear of something ? "they asked.

But the girl declined to go into a home, and said that she did not like that kind of place.

Meanwhile, it was noted that a man, who was mistrusted by other passengers, was paying the girl attention. The ladies were much concerned about her fate when the last day of the voyage came. But in the evening, as the vessel made its way up the Hooghly, and Calcutta stood outlined in the gathering darkness, the girl, feeling the terror of approaching loneliness, came up to the ladies and said, " 1 have changed my mind, I should like to go with you."

With what relief they heard her decision may be imagined, particularly as the man who had been forcing his attentions upon the girl followed her to the carriage on landing, and asked where she was going. Happily, the girl was cared for and protected until a suitable situation was found for her.

Work In India

The work in India has already met with generous support. Ten years ago there was no home in Bombay. The association had made a beginning with a small flat, where three or four girls could be accommodated ; then the organisers started to build a home, for they felt that they could not go on saying "No" to applicants any longer.

They were in great straits for money, but an American girl, who had voyaged to India with Miss Picton-warlow, said that she would ask Mr. Denny, a London gentleman well known for his philanthropy, to give them 6,000. On receipt of the letter, Mr. Denny called a few friends together, amongst whom was Lord Overtoun, and very shortly telegraphed the 6,000 to the ladies. The home thus founded accommodates fifty, but it is now too small for the ever-increasing number of applicants, and funds are urgently needed to extend the work, the sphere of whose usefulness is certain to expand with the passage of time, and the increase of the white population.

A Crying Need

Colombo, which has been termed the Clapham Junction of the East, is urgently in need of a central home for the girls who pass there on their way to all parts of the world. For eighteen years the association has rented bungalows, and it is very desirable that it should have its own home.

Holiday homes are a great feature of the work in India. In I900 the first holiday home was opened, and now there is not a hill station of any size without one. These are open to new arrivals, and are also a great boon to governesses during the holiday season, and to girls in need of rest and change of air.

The Eurasians, or half-castes, are welcomed to these homes as well as Europeans, and are often much in need of care and protection.

The spread of education amongst the women of India has created a student class, and many of these seek board and lodging in the homes of the Y.w.c.a.

Opening In Japan

A word may be said about the development of work in Japan. Although that land has not yet begun to attract Englishwomen in any numbers, still the daughters of our progressive ally are breaking away from Eastern tradition by leaps and bounds. Girl students are flocking into Tokio, and many of them will find a home in the two student hostels which are being opened this year (I9I I), and be surrounded by Christian influences at a most impressionable period in their lives.

In Cairo the association has removed its home to new quarters in a beautiful native house, with large, airy rooms and a garden.

This account does not touch on the emigration department proper of the association, which is self-supporting, and organised in connection with the employment bureau, and has well-equipped homes in Canada and other colonies.