Dr. Ida–for the Women of India

The Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, started as a single-bed clinic, by Dr. Ida Sophia Scudder who served as a missionary for 50 years. Today, it is one of the top-ranked educational, healthcare and research institutes in the country.

The first class of 14 women—taught by Dr. Ida and a few of her associates, with only one microscope, one skeleton, and few textbooks—faced regional end-of-first-year examinations along with men from established government-run medical schools.  Dr. Ida tried to encourage the girls:

     “All anybody can expect of you is to do your best.”
     The girls were not deceived.  “Best” to Dr. Ida meant nothing short of 90 percent.  They huddled on the long, hard seats staring at each other in terrified silence…Examinations according to the British system were matters of educational life or death.
     Ida, herself one of the examiners, met Colonel Bryson in the hall…
     “Ah, Dr. Scudder! So you’ve brought up your first class for examination?”

“Yes.”  Ida smiled at him brightly.
            His face clouded with sympathetic concern.  “My dear doctor, please don’t be discouraged if none of your students makes the grade this first time.”
            “None of them?” echoed Ida bleakly.
            “”It wouldn’t be surprising…only a small percentage of men pass it.  Naturally we couldn’t expect too much of such a young project, especially all women.  But they can always try again.  Promise me you won’t give up, whatever happens.”
            “I promise,” said Ida.  She went on, head held high but heart sinking to the region of her shoes.
            The grim days passed. Huddled in a tight, silent group in the mission bungalow in Madras where they were housed, the girls waited to hear the results.  Lists from various men’s college were posted and read with dismay.  Only about 20 percent—one in five—was passing!
            “And we’re only women!” wailed one of the fourteen in anguish.
            In a note from the considerate Colonel Bryson, Ida learned the results before they were posted. The distance from college to mission bungalow seemed interminable.  She wished it were a tennis court or a racetrack so she could run at top speed and still be considered proper.  But she reached it finally, stood in the doorway of the room where they were waiting. They read the answer in her radiant face.
            “Lambs!”  She held out her arms to them.  “You did it!  Passed. Every single one of you.  And four of you in the first class.  And—can you believe it?  This places our school at the head of all the medical schools in the presidency!” …
            The next time she met Colonel Bryson, he shook his head.  “I’m afraid, Doctor,” he said sheepishly, “that your girls are setting too high a standard for our men to live up to.”
            Ida only smiled.

From  Dr. Ida, The inspiring story of Dr. Ida Scudder, fifty years a medical missionary in India bu Dorothy Clarke Wilson.

I’ve read a couple of Wilson’s other books–I’d like to own every one of them.

Crowfoot, Chief of the Blackfeet

I met Chief Crowfoot in 1997 when we camped with grandchildren in Montana and in Canada.  Of course I didn’t meet him in person, because he died in 1890, but I found his biography, and we have driven through the country where he lived.  After reading about Crowfoot, I feel as if I had met him.

“Several Blackfeet women and with a boy were picking saskatoon berries when a grizzly bear surprised them.  The women dropped their berry bags and ran.  The boy tried to fit an arrow into his bow, but the bear swatted the bow away and attacked the boy.  Men from the nearby camp jumped on their horses, shouted, and fired their guns into the air to scare the grizzly.  Crowfoot ordered warriors to the other side of the grove of trees where the bear was hiding.

“With the whole camp gathered at a safe distance, the [men] rode to the other side of the grove.  There, single riders went into the trees and tried to entice the grizzly toward them.  When at last the huge beast came into view, the men shouted to Crowfoot, who was waiting on the far side.  Quickly he guided his horse into the dense bushes and soon was behind the savage bear.  With deadly accuracy, he plunged a spear into the animal and, when his horse became too frightened, dismounted and continued to stab the bear until its lifeless body crashed to the ground…from that time on [Crowfoot] was recognized throughout the tribe as a prominent chief.”

Crowfoot led his people through tragic times in Blackfeet (or Blackfoot) history with dignity and honor.

“Crowfoot learned quickly which white men he could trust, and those men in turn trusted him.  Crowfoot foresaw the end of the buffalo, realized that his people could survive only with dramatic changes in their way of life, negotiated for supplies, tools, and food for his people, protested broken promises and fraudulent dealings.  He co-operated with the Mounted Police and Indian Department officials, not because he could preserve the Blackfeet way of life, but because it was the only way to help his people.

“Crowfoot expected justice from the whites and demanded it from his own people: he was willing to risk his life for it.”
Crowfoot, Chief of the Blackfeet.  He died “beloved by his people, feared by his foes, esteemed by all.”

 

What Terrorism Feels Like

I am Malala, and this is my story…

Terrorism is fear all around you.  It is going to sleep at night and not knowing what horrors the next day will bring.  It is huddling with your family in the center-most room in your home because you have all decided it is the safest place to be.  It is walking down your own street and not knowing whom you can trust.  Terrorism is the fear that when your father walks out the door in the morning he won’t come back at night. ..

And since I had been in the kitchen both times there were [bomb] blasts near our house, I stayed as far from that room as possible.  But how can a person live when she is afraid of a room in her own home?  How can a mother buy food for her family if the market is a war zone?  How can children gather for a game of cricket if a bomb could go off under their feet?”

Malala was 15, in ninth grade, in 2012 when Taliban soldiers shot her in the head because she spoke out for the right of girls to go to school.

In December, 2014, Malala received the Nobel Peace Prize for her stand against extremism and her coinntued fight for the right to education.

“On my eighteenth birthday, I returned to the Syrian border to open a school in Lebanon for refugee children and to demand that world leaders invest in books, not bullets.”

In her autobiography, Malala tells about her childhood, the international team that saved her life when she was shot, her long recovery, and her fight for education.

“It is people’s love and encouragement that gives me the energy to continue my fight.  I will never give up on advocating for peace and education for all.  I want to build schools and make sure there are qualified teachers in as many places as I can.  That is something else that hasn’t changed:  I am the same stubborn girl who will never give up.”

The Sugihara Story

I was five years old.

In 1940 my father was a diplomat, representing the country of Japan.  Our family lived in a small town in the small country called Lithuania…one early morning in late July, my life changed forever…

“There are a lot of people outside,” my mother said.  ‘We don’t know what is going to happen…They have come to ask for your father’s help…Unless we help, they may be killed or taken away by some bad men.”

My father said to my mother, “I have to do something.  I may have to disobey my government, but if I don’t, I will be disobeying God.”

Back then, I did not fully understand what [my father] had done, or why it was so important.

I do now.

Hiroki Sugihara tells about the weeks when his father wrote permits for several thousand Jews to travel across Russia to Japan.  That was the only direction these people could go to escape from the Nazis who wanted to kill them.  If they could take a train all the way across Russia, and a ship to Japan, they could go on to other countries and live safely.

The Japanese government ordered Mr. Sugihara not to write the travel permits.  Mr. Sugihara knew he could be punished, but he wrote permit after permit, day after day, until he was sent away from Lithuania.

Hiroki Sugihara, who wrote Passage to Freedom, was that five-year-old boy.