Patroness: H.r.h. The Duchess of Connaught. President: The Hon. Lady Peek.
Chairman: Sir W. Mackworth Young, K.c.s.i. Office: Lonsdale Chambers, 27, Chancery Lane, W.c.
Work of the C.e.z.m.s. - Work Among Widows
If she be small, slight-natured, miserable,
How shall men grow? Tennyson
"Send us teachers" is the cry which comes to us from India and China from thousands of women of the upper classes, who are awaking to their need of education. It is nearly a hundred years since the higher education of men in India was started by Christian missionaries. The demand for such teaching far exceeded the supply, so instruction was provided by the Government; and, as such, could not be given, or, at any rate, was not given, on a Christian basis. To-day in India men are discarding the religion of their fathers, and with countless thousands nothing is taking its place.
The Power of the Bible
It is undeniable that apparently insurmountable difficulties surround the Government with regard to religious teaching in schools. If the problem has not yet been solved in England, how solve it in heathen lands? The Christian schools of the missionaries flourish side by side with the Government schools, and are well attended. A large number in India are under Government inspection and receive Government grants. In Hong Kong many non-christian parents prefer to send their children to Christian schools because of the advantage of the moral teaching to be obtained in them. One of the greatest of Chinese viceroys said that he was in favour of having the Bible read in the schools because, "while the high quality and permanence of Chinese civilisation is due to the teaching of the Confucian classics, Western nations evidently have some power which the Chinese do not possess, and this is due to their possession of the Bible."
In India the Christian schools are full to overflowing, and in many places have entirely lived down the opposition they met with at first. We are told that "girls who can read and write and have passed some examination are preferred as wives so that more interest is taken by parents in their studies." From Ceylon we hear that " our missionaries receive more invitations to visit and teach the women than they can possibly accept."
As with the men in the past, so with the. women and girls of to-day the supply of Christian schools is utterly inadequate to meet the demand, which must therefore be met by the secular schools of the Government. The need of more women missionaries to undertake educational work is very great, and, if it is not speedily met, the present opportunity for the spread of Christianity by this means will have disappeared.
The educational work of the C.e.z.m.s. is carried on by means of:
1. Day and boarding schools for girls.
2. Homes for foundlings, famine orphans, and others.
3. Industrial work.
Day and Boarding Schools for Girls
Literally thousands of little girls are crowding into the C.e.z.m.s. schools in China and also in India. In many of the Indian schools Government grants are given. The keenness of the girls to learn is extraordinary. In one school, we are told, " they hasten from one lesson to another in a breathless hurry, as if their little lives depended on making all possible speed, and, putting down one book with 'what next?' will pounce upon another, and begin to repeat a fresh lesson before the teacher has time to find her own place. They positively run races with sums, spelling, etc."
This happy state of affairs does not, of course, exist in all schools. Indian children, as well as English ones, are sometimes lazy; they sometimes, for instance, oversleep themselves, and are late for school. In certain districts of India old women are employed as school attendance officers. These go round and pull the children out of bed (off their mats) and hurry them off to school, unwashed and unfed. As the children rarely undress at night, no delay is caused by dressing in the morning. Their hair, too, is usually only done once a week. An Indian schoolroom presents a very different sight from an English one. The children sit on the floor, the head teacher on a low chair, and the assistant teachers on four-legged stools. The babies write in sand with their fingers, while those a little older use white mud on black slates. Whilst the majority of the pupils in the day schools are the children of non-christians, most of those in the boarding schools are either the children of Christian parents, or orphans, or, still sadder, those whose parents did not want them. The sum of 4 a year will support an orphan from two to nine years of age in India, and 5 a year a child from ten to sixteen years of age.
Homes for Foundlings, Famine Orphans, and Others
In parts of China it is said that more than half the girl babies are destroyed at birth or are left at the asylums provided by Government for the prevention of infanticide. Some parents go there and exchange their own little girl for another, in order that she may become a wife to their son. Some get rid of their daughters in other ways. Near a pool in Foo-chow a stone is inscribed, " Girls may not be drowned here "; but that does not include all parts of the river. Many babies destined for the river have been saved and brought up by the missionaries. 3 10s. a year will support a Chinese foundling at the " Birds' Nest" at Kucheng.
In India the missionaries are sometimes able to adopt poor little widows, whose future would otherwise be one long misery. There are over 43,000 little widows under ten years old in Bengal alone. A widow has only one meal a day, and fasts one day a fortnight, when she may not even drink water - a deprivation only to be understood by those who are acquainted with the climate of India. Numbers of them run away from the homes of their husbands' relations in order to escape a living death.
Until the coming of the missionaries no possibilities were open to widows of earning their living respectably. No widow has money in her own right. Directly she leaves her home she is penniless. Any property her husband left her is not really hers, but only hers in trust for her son. If she has no son she is obliged to adopt one, and when he comes of age to give him all her property, to become a servant to his wife, and to manage as best she can on the meagre allowance allotted to her for food and clothing.
Sieng-Fu schoolgirls. The Chinese practice of infanticide is the reason why vast numbers of girl-babies are rescued annually by
The C.e.z.m.s., confronted with this problem, has started the "Indian Widows' Union " in order to raise a fund to be spent in estab-1 i s h i n g industrial schools, and aiding widows by training them to support themselves by industries and to fill useful posts, such as school- mistresses, nurses, and medical assistants. Any widows in Great Britain are eligible as members, and other Christian women are welcomed as associates. The object of the union is to band the Christian women of England together in an effort to improve the condition of the Hindu and Mohammedan widows of India.
For further particulars of the work of the Indian Widows' Union, application should be made to Mrs. Boswell, 4, Queens-borough Terrace, W.
Training: Homes for Native Workers
It will be readily understood how supremely important it is that native women should be trained in order to teach. Many of those so trained return to their own villages, and become little centres of light and knowledge to those around them. Ninety per cent, of the Indian population live in villages, and although a good deal of itinerary work is done by the missionaries, it is those who actually live among the people who are needed to carry on the work. From £6 to £10 a year will support a Bible-woman or native teacher in South India or in China.
Scholars at the Deaf and Dumb Schools, Palamcottah, India. These children, when properly taught, are able to acquire the knowledge of a handicraft and pass successfully the usual Government examinations
A group of girl brides from the C.e.z.m.s. school at Masulipatam. The Indian girls are remarkable for their intelligence and zest for learning
The Blind and the Deaf and Dumb
The C.e.z.m.s. have special schools for these afflicted children, and also give industrial training to blind or deaf and dumb women. We are told that in Nantai Island, China, many village people come to see the "surprising sight " of blind girls engaged in various industries and reading and writing fluently. From Palamcottah, India, we hear that some of the children from the deaf and dumb school have recently gone in for, and successfully passed, the usual Government examinations.
We may learn, therefore, from all these facts what can be done for our fellow-women of India and China, and how successful is the work which has already been done.
Those who are anxious to further the endeavours of the C.e.x.m S., and to help the many millions who are still living in darkness and misery, should apply by letter for free pamphlets, dealing with all sections of the work, to Miss Nash, C.e.z.m.s., 27, Chancery Lane, W.c.