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15th March, 1951
This is my first letter from war-torn Korea. How I wish that everyone in America could see this place and the suffering of these helpless people. I’m sure it would give them a new impetous to go all out for these people who are victims of Communist aggression. This is the time when I wish that I had the knowledge to put into words all that I have seen and the emotions that I have experienced.
One thing that has impressed me more than anything else is the attitude of the Koreans themselves. You never hear them pitying themselves or bemoaning their losses. I asked Dr. Appenzeller, who traveled with me over to Koji Island, if this was a national trait and he said “Yes, the Korean will even tell you that he has lost a member of his family with a smile on his face – he does this fearing he might make the one to whom he is speaking sad; so he wears a smile.”
When I arrived Sunday evening, Dr. Sauer and Dr. Appenzeller were at the plane. I had not written to them knowing they were very crowded in the little house they have. But it so happened that three of the men are away so they have put me up in a little room which is used for Dr. Lane’s study. Here they have but the barest necessities. In fact all I have on my bed is a few blankets and no sheets or pillow-cases. Nevertheless, it is good to have put up here because these men are well in touch with the over-all situation and they are able to give me well grounded suggestions as to just what can be done.
It so happened that Dr. Appenzeller was going over to Koji Island Tuesday morning to take some clothes over for the Church refugees there and asked if I wouldn’t be interested in going along. Of course it was just what I wanted as I was able to visit three orphanages while I was there and get an idea of just what the government is doing.
Monday morning I went to see Dr. Oh who had just been out for the first day after a very severe cold. I spent the whole morning with him and secured all the information I could about the children. Just before Seoul fell this last time, four hundred children were sent from that city to the orphanage and were simply dumped on him. There was nothing that he could do but take them in as the snow lay thick on the ground. But in a recent bombing the whole orphanage was laid waste and over 100 of the children were killed. This is indeed very said as it was our own planes that bombed. It is policy now to bomb all villages and houses along the sides of railroads or highways, as the Communists use these places to hide their ammunition trucks and other supplies.
Now there are 29 of the children living on another little island called Katak where I hope to go tomorrow and see them with Dr. Oh. Then another group of the children are in Taeku just how many he does not know as he has been sick and could not travel. Also I have learned that the Salvation Army Boys’ Home is on Cheju Island so I hope it will be possible for me to round them all up and take on some new adoptions as well. However, I have to be very careful just how the whole affair is handled not to cross the regulations of the UN.
Dr. Shaw has come down from Taegu and I have an appointment to see him tomorrow. I want to line up a Committee if possible to take care of all the details. The Mission personnel is very limited here and those who are here are more than busy both with their church work and other relief work that they are carrying on. Has Dr. Clarke heard that Dr. Underwood passed away just about three weeks ago? It was very sudden – a heart attack. Just what is going to happen to the Ethel Underwood Memorial now I do not know but I expect to contact John Underwood, the youngest son, while I’m here and go into the matter with him.
There is no doubt about a war being fought living here. The air activity is something stupendous – planes are in the air all the time, while trucks, jeeps, weapon-carriers and trailer trucks are just an endless convoy both coming and going; saying nothing about the big ambulances that are just creeping along because the road is so bumpy and they do not want to cause the boys any unnecessary pain. All our boys are on the go dressed in their dark green cotton uniforms with so much dust on them that they almost look grey in color. Very few carry a smile; they all look very sober and very determined.
I only hope that the pictures I have taken on this trip turn out well. I’m sure Dr. Clarke will be able to weave a very interesting story around them. There is only one thing that I’m sorry about and that is transportation here is next to nil. Everywhere you go you have to secure a permit and that takes time when you are dealing with the army but I do hope that I will be able to cover all the country within two weeks.
Yesterday, the army entered Seoul so I hope that it will be possible for me to get there before returning to Japan as it would be interesting to see it after all these weeks of war. Also to get some pictures of the ruins of our homes there would be good for publicity purposes too.
This of course is only assumption on my part, and I do know this, in Korea they have no organized set up to adequately care for the needs of the orphans and if we can convince them that we are in a position to do it, then I cannot see why they should not give us not only their moral support but also financial assistance, sufficient to cover the cost of such a project.
I was in Mr. Braga’s office this afternoon and I have requested him to have the rough sketches and his engineering suggestions forwarded to us just as soon as possible as there is a possibility that the present rumours of peace might be realized but personally I think that they are very remote and that is just another string which Russia is pulling to gain her own end.
My report on India and the Agreement between the Alwaye Settlement and C.C.F. is almost completed too. I have gone into considerable detail with this report in order that you might have adequate information at your finger tips for publicity purposes.
Scratch is writing regularly every few days and is keeping me informed as to the work which is being done in repairing the buildings and for the betterment of the property. You may rest assured that in every way and at all times I doing what I can to protect our interests and the funds expended in Alwaye and we will have audited statements to cover their financial records.
There is another matter which I must bring to your attention and that is regarding the Hongkong School for the Deaf which is a private Institution under the guidance of Miss Beatrice Pope. She has contacted me on several occasions requesting help and I informed her that C.C.F. to date has not helped any physically handicapped children and that all youngsters taken on our sponsorship must be orphans. I have received another letter from her today in which she states that in their school they have ten fatherless children and hopes very much that our Association may be able to adopt them. I have written her to the effect that I have written to Richmond to ascertain their mind in the matter as it is unprecedented for us to help the deaf as there are other organizations interested in their welfare. The only thing is that Miss Pope is well-known in Hong Kong both in official and social circles. Moreover, their asking that we take on their adoption means that they want us to fully support the child which she has given me to understand is costing them at present almost US $14.00.
With every best wish.