Page images

in which case the help given is no longer sufficient. An individual can survive on a famine régime for a few months but after a time he no longer has the strength to resist epidemics and the manifold diseases which attack him. Those who have been saved from starvation die nevertheless and the efforts of foreign relief organizations become useless.

That agricultural production has slightly increased in a large part of the famine area cannot be denied, but in those parts which show no progress foreign missions despair of successfully warding off poverty, which has ceased to be acute and has become chronic. This state of affairs focuses the attention both of the Soviet government and of foreign relief organizations on the problem of reconstruction.


When we remember that Russia, before the war, always had an excess of exports over imports and that in 1921 the value of exports represented only 8.2 per cent of the value of imports, we realize the degree of economic ruin. The agricultural ruin is too well known to need emphasizing. Even at the time when her commercial situation was most flourishing, the agricultural situation of Russia was not so brilliant as her large export of grain might have led one to expect, and the fact that she exported such quantities of food did not prove that she had too much to eat herself. If the peasants and working classes were badly fed even before the war, it was because national industry was incapable of furnishing them with the tools and machinery they needed, and which they therefore had to import from abroad at a high price. If such was the situation then it stands to reason that the disproportion between agricultural and industrial production is likely to continue for many years to come and that we shall see Russia exporting cereals, to the great indignation of the western public, while she has not enough to feed her own population.

Russian industry, which even before the war was very poorly developed, was completely ruined after the revolution for reasons easy to understand, and will take much longer to recover and to begin to develop than the earth takes to produce.

What rôle can foreign organizations play in the work of Russian reconstruction? It is evident that the solution of this problem depends largely upon the administrative system of the government and on its principles of social economy. Relief organizations will probable recognize that this is a domestic question beyond their competence. A few have, nevertheless, thought it their duty to collaborate with the Soviet government in its task of reconstruction and have concentrated their efforts on the establishment of model agricultural centres. This activity, not exactly relief work, has from the first taken on a commercial character. Relief organizations, however, if they wish to do reconstructive work and at the same time keep within the domain which is more generally understood to be theirs, can establish agricultural colonies for children.

It must not be forgotten that in Russia, and particularly in the Ukraine, there are hundreds of thousands of orphans theoretically in government charge. In reality the existing Children's Homes, in spite of their overwhelming number, are quite insufficient to shelter all the children who are wandering about Russia in a semi-savage state. To gather up as many as possible of these children. and to make good agricultural labourers of them is a humanitarian duty which is encumbent upon us, since we have seen that Russia's first effort at reconstruction must be directed towards agriculture.


A second problem which faces relief organiza tions is that of poverty. It is evident that, in addition to the peasants of the famine area, whose sufferings have hitherto monopolized the chief efforts of charitable organizations, there are large numbers of workmen who need help, since the present situation in Russian industry industry creates a great deal of unemployment. The terrible. hardships of the educated classes, which have so forcibly struck the agents of all foreign organizations, make the problem of poverty particularly


Although this problem, like that of reconstruction properly speaking, is above all a problem of internal reorganization, foreign relief associations

cannot remain indifferent to this state of affairs, and they will find a wide field of activity in endeavouring to relieve certain categories of unemployed, according to their particular sympathies. It is to be hoped that some among them will find the funds necessary to give help to the unemployed of the liberal professions, which, under a worker's régime, are naturally those which are the hardest hit.

The third problem which calls for the attention of relief organizations is perhaps the most important and the most directly within their compet


All missions which have worked in Russia emphasize the terrible ravages of epidemics, the logical result of famine and of the violent economic crisis through which Russia is passing. In this domain the maximum effort of foreign relief organizations will be necessary.

Apart from the distribution pure and simple of medical supplies to hospitals, there is a volume of medical and sanitary work to be performed which it is beyond the national organizations to cope with and which requires the whole-hearted co-operation of foreign associations.

Already the American Red Cross, through the American Relief Administration, has done admirable work in this direction from the very beginning of the campaign against famine, and it is certainly thanks to that society that the present sanitary situation in Russia is not worse than it is. This effort, however, must be continued and developed by other Red Cross activities such as the training of nurses, the establishment of dispensaries and of infant welfare centres which would become centres to help the Russian people to raise the very low level of sanitation prevailing in their country.



The Lady Chemlsford All-India League for Maternity and Child Welfare was founded in 1920 mainly in order to meet the need for health visitors and maternity supervisors in India. Interesting sidelights on child welfare work in India are given in the League's quarterly review, "Maternity and Child Welfare in India" (1).

Among the activities of Lady Chelmsford's League is the Health School in Delhi which was started in 1918 by the Association for the Provision of Health and Maternity Supervisors and which became absorbed into the League soon after its foundation. "The great majority of women in India are attended during childbirth by midwives who are untrained in modern methods, who have no knowledge of the nature of puerperal fever, or of the effects of wrong interference in labour... The number of doctors, nurses and trained mid

(1) Maternity and Child Welfare in India. Superintendent Government Printing, No. 8 Hastings Street, Calcutta, India. Published quarterly. Price one rupee.

wives being obviously quite insufficient to meet the needs of the country, doctors in different centres made up their minds that the attempt must be made to train the indigenous midwife herself. This is still the opinion of the majority, but superadded to that is now the conviction that, in addition to training, we must also have subsequent supervision of the midwives' work," Hence the Delhi Health School, which gives a ten months course in Home Nursing, First Aid and Physiology, Domestic Hygiene, Sanitation, Maternity and Infant Welfare, Social Science, Industrial Hygiene and Communicable Diseases. Besides this, students gain experience in organizing classes among indigenous dais (midwives) and learn to conduct. such classes and supervise the dais' work. The aim is to emphasize the preventive nature of the work and to make students realize that their main object is to preserve health, not to cure sickness.

The difficulties with which the health visitors have to contend may be easily imagined; one of

them, writing of "Some Delhi Difficulties ", says: "It took us years to make the people realize what our work really was, and now they are just beginning to understand that we will not do the work of a doctor.

"Another difficulty met with was the dreadful superstition; this makes the mothers and grannies do things that are harmful to the babies. First, First, they will not allow newly-born infants to be put to the breast for about three days; they say there is no milk, or if there is, it is bad; the unfortunate babies are fed on various concoctions of ghi (clarified butter), spices, ghur, etc. all boiled up together; sometimes pice (coins) or nails are put in to give the babies strength. The mothers and grannies do not deliberately

wish to harm the infants; it is just ignorance and superstition; they see reason when things are carefully explained to them. "Another difficulty is to get clothes for the newly-born babies; in Hindu houses especially it is not customary to clothe the child for a period varying from one week to forty days. Consequently in the cold weather many babies die

not drink properly and, if they do survive, are backward in every way. Opium is so easily obtained that it will take a long time to stop it entirely."

The author goes on to speak of the treatment given to the mother. "The usual custom, particularly among Hindu women, is to give the mother nothing at all, or if she is allowed anything, it is dried dates, cocoanut, almonds and such things. This is probably so that she shall not defile the family eating vessels. Milk is not allowed, nor water, so the sufferings of the poor women in the hot weather may be imagined. In one Hindu house, where we had explained matters to the baby's father, he went out and bought a new set

[graphic][merged small]

of her uncleanness.

from pneumonia and exposure. We find that they of eating vessels for his wife's use during the period will allow the child to wear a garment which has been given to it, so we get over that difficulty by making little kurtas and keeping some in our midwifery box. Often they will say "Give it something of yours and it will live".


"Another big difficulty is opium. So many of the poorer mothers give their babies opium so that they may keep quiet while the mothers get on with their work. It is most difficult to get them to leave it off; the infants are thin and wasted, do

"The next difficulty is to prevent the mother being bathed too soon. Every Hindu woman is bathed by the sixth day, if not earlier. In Hindu houses the patient is not allowed to mix with the rest of the family until she has had her bath. We allow the lady to be sponged in bed and show the women how to do it, and this generally satisfies all."

Another writer expresses the conviction, echoed on every side, that it is education in health that


is most urgently needed: "The medical relief available for the population in India is admittedly inadequate. Far more medical men and women are needed, especially for work in the villages. But it is unfortunately true that the Indian people, as a general rule, do not take full advantage even of the medical facilities that are available. This is due largely to the fact that these facilities are concentrated in the towns, often at great distances from the villages, and, also, it is to be feared, to apathy, ignorance and distrust. While more medical workers are badly required, nevertheless much can be done by an organization which can penetrate into the remotest parts, find out the material, persuade and enlighten, send in patients to the medical centres or help them to come in, and finally bring to their doors the simple treatment which in many cases is all that is required.

The Lady Chelmsford League possesses a travelling maternity and child welfare exhibition, and this is part of a description of its visit to the District Fair at Etawah: "During the morning visitors kept dropping in, but by the afternoon interest had increased and we were besieged by crowds of men of all classes. Many of them were big, powerful countrymen armed with lathis. A few women came but were abashed by the number of men. They took refuge in their own special section, from whence behind the purdah they held a colloquy with the crowd of men outside, all in

[merged small][graphic][ocr errors]

Another worker writes most encouragingly of the educative work among the dais: " Only to-day

I have heard that the man in charge of the cremating ground is

crying because many women have not been dying lately. The deaths of these poor things are a source of income to him as the jewelry worn on the last journey is claimed by him. I am told there is to be an article in one of the local papers drawing attention to the decrease in the mortality among the women and children. "

Colonel Blackham, in an authoritative article on "Milk and its modifications in infant feeding in India", gives a picture of the native milk vendor :

"In England the individual milk vendor is rare but in the tropics he is well known.

The individual milk vendor hawks milk about in uncovered vessels which contain various dilutions of milk and water which he sells at different prices, for instance, in Bombay prices vary from three annas per seer for skimmed ungraded milk to seven annas per seer for best quality full cream milk such as is supplied to Europeans. The milk shop in a London or provincial street is nowadays a clean and well-ordered establishment, but it is very different in the native part of a tropical town. The bulk of the fluid called milk is made into sweetmeats, but it is all grossly adulterated and stored under disgusting conditions.

"...There are no milk trains or special milk cans. The milkmen crowd into the ordinary third class compartments and their open vessels are shoved underneath the seats. The filthy condition

of an ordinary third class carriage, the dirt and dust. flying in to the open milk vessels and the disgusting habits of the passengers beggars description.

"In India milk is polluted in a way almost incredible in Europe. The education of the gwalla consists chiefly in learning how to supply as little milk and as much water as possible in exchange for the pice of his patrons. He will adulterate his milk under the very noses of his clients and pride himself on his skill in doing so. The immediate remedies Colonel Blackham offers for this state of affairs are better education as to breast feeding and a more extended use of dried milk.

[ocr errors]

A native doctor, writing on the organization of a milk depôt, says: "If there is any lack of efficiency in this line (disinfection of vessels), the milk distributed, however pure, is likely to get curdled on account of the dirty condition of the vessels, and the poor ignorant mother likely to give it to the baby implicitly believing that the milk so kindly given by the good doctor could not possibly have gone bad... I mention this because I have seen the nearest relative or perhaps the unfortunately ignorant mother of the baby, plodding their way to a Welfare Centre carrying the baby in one arm and in the other carrying an empty milk can into which was stuffed a dirty rag or a bottle. The object was to accomplish two jobs

in one trip, i.e., as soon as they reach the centre to remove the rag or the bottle from inside the can and offer the vessel for receiving milk, and, on their return journey, the idea is to go to bazaar to buy the daily necessities of life, such as vegetables or fish in the rag or oil in the bottle. Thrusting them inside the milk can is only an easy way of carrying them. "

[ocr errors]

An Indian doctor describes the native milkman as follows: "How often one finds that the hands of a milkman are covered with scabies, that his clothes are filthy, his vessels exposed to road dust, and very seldom clean. The personal habits of such a one are no doubt unthinkable. "

Although the work already accomplished by the Lady Chelmsford League in the face of so many difficulties is admirable, the fringe of the problem has as yet only been touched. Not only in matters. relating to maternity and child welfare but in every branch of health work, instruction must be carried to the vast population of India, and especially to the millions who live in villages, out of reach of the ordinary means of propaganda. The Indian Red Cross Society and the provincial branches of St Johns Ambulance Corps are seriously occupied with this problem and hope to extend their activities in the future, but such a nationwide task needs nation-wide interest and support.


by Norah HILL.

punish him, but so he learns to live.

Since the days when St. Paul first journeyed to has taught them. If he break their laws, they Antioch, many missionaries have trod this earth and many gospels have been preached, but none have contained a more oyous message than that which I am going to preach to-day the gospel.of the Great God Play!

The future of the child, awakening to his first consciousness of life, lies truly in the lap of the gods, but are not these gods infinitely wise with the wisdom of all the ages? They take the little child and whisper to him the secrets which eternity

Now one of these gods is the Great God Play. He it is who first brings us face to face with reality -on the sand-heap. Here he teaches us the surprising fact that life (and sand) is not just something through which we trudge; it is something which we can mould and on which we leave our impression. Others may call this "making mud pies" but the Great God Play knows better. Next he introduces us to strange objects called toys

« PreviousContinue »