Children Perishing With the Famine in India
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
DR. KLOPSCH, after a graphic description of the sickening scenes of the Baroda poor-house, through which he had passed, full of famine-stricken victims, some writhing and groaning with cholera and others perishing with small-pox, dysentery and one kind of fever or another, said : " We were anxious to get away from this poor-house, but it occurred to us that thus far no children had been in evidence. So we made inquiry concerning them, and learned that they were kept in what is termed the kitchen. We asked to be shown there.
" The kitchen in the Baroda poor-house must be seen to be realized. In a bamboo enclosure, under the supervision of a fat, turbaned Hindoo, sat three hundred skeletonized, diminutive creatures, all sickly and miserable and many of them totally blind. In the entire number there was not a single child which in our country would not be considered hopelessly afflicted with marasmus.
" The sight of these poor little helpless human beings was saddening beyond description. Never have I seen anything approximating in abject misery and utter destitution this gathering of innocents. Not a cry escaped their lips. The place was as silent as the abode of death. Hardly a hand stirred. Not a sound was heard. With the exception of the blinking of the eyelids there was no indication of life. Had our own eyes been sightless, we could have passed by this place in total ignorance of the presence of a living being. We walked in and no one paid the slightest attention to our movements.
" The Hindoo seemed as lifeless as the children. The sanitaty conveniences and the kitchen were one.
" We reached the centre of the enclosure. The Hindoo looked on silently. The whole concern seemed dazed. We ourselves were dazed. Stupor was creeping upon us. Death seemed to be encircling the Baroda kitchen and all it contained, first mercifully benumbing the senses, as the surgeon adminsters an anęsthetic before he performs the operation.
" Suddenly there was a stir. Two men bearing a can of milk appeared in front of the Baroda tent. The children became animated. The Hindoo revived. He came over to where we were standing and informed us that milk was to be given to the feebler children. We followed him to the entrance and watched its distribution. As soon as some of the tin cups were filled the children scram-bled for them. There was not enough for more than a fourth of the number, and the more vigorous ones got what there was. The feebler ones went without it.
" Some of them were too weak to rise. They cried inaudibly, but their grief was more pitiful than if it had sought noisy expression. Perhaps punishment awaited every demonstration on their part, and hence they dared not complain. God only knows. We protested against the totally inadequate supply of milk and lack of proper management. The Hindoo explained that more milk would be served in the evening. Eight long hours ! And then, perhaps, only as much more. How could these hungry ones survive?
" We asked the Hindoo how many little ones died daily. He professed ignorance, but volunteered the information that their bodies were burned. I verily believe that very few, if any, of the twelve hundred who were in the Baroda poor-house that morning ever came out alive. It was a veritable dead-house, and those who once entered seemed hopelessly doomed."
The cry of a child can be heard a long distance. The cry of the fatherless and motherless children of India has been heard around the world, arid has awakened the people of our land somewhat, to a sense of their privilege and duty, so that, by the unspeakable eloquence of lips mute in death, our Heavenly Father has taught us the lesson of universal need and inspired benevolences, which will not only care for the bodies, but also feed with the Bread of Life, the famishing souls of the little ones for whom Christ died.