One night, a man knocked on Dr. John Scudder’s bungalow asking for a doctor . His wife was in labour and she was in pain. However he did not want Dr. John, he wanted his daughter Ida to come and care for his wife. He was a Brahman.His culture and he would rather let his wife die than be tended to by a man. Ida declined explaining that she was not a doctor. The man went away.
As fate would have it, the same night a Mohammedan and a Hindu man knocked on the door, each asking for Ida to aid their respective wives in labour. As politely as she could, Ida refused. She was no doctor.
The next day changed Ida’s life (and probably a hundred thousand others) forever. She came to know that all three wives in labour the previous night had died. Wondering if she could have reversed their fate, she found her calling in life. Ida had been shocked at the depraved situation of Indian women,from the child brides to the practice of sati. She vowed she would never let another woman suffer on her watch.
She went back to the States enrolled in Cornell Medical college. She returned to India a qualified doctor.She intended to open a women’s hospital to care for the women of India. She had a generous amount of $10,000 from Mr Schell a banker from Manhattan. Her first clinic was a humble room in her house with the verandah serving as the waiting room.
Soon word of the doctor spread and patients started pouring in . Ida realising that she needed more hands , if she truly wanted to make a difference employed the help of her kitchen maid, Salomi. It then dawned on Ida that the only way to sustain the hospital was to train the women to care for themselves and others. Salomi went on to become the first trained nurse in the hospital.
Soon Dr. Scudder started a medical college which initially recruited only women. Today the college is recognised as one of the premier medical institute in the country. The humble Mary Taber Schell hospital has grown and continues to grow treating over thousands of patients every day from all walks of life and all over the country.
One simple decision on the part of Dr. Ida Scudder to travel to India and help the poor and the afflicted has benefited millions. So the next time you think of volunteering or helping out, take the plunge. You might be the next Ida Scudder to someone else.
We all have the same resources, the exact 24 hours of the day as did all those great people who have made a difference. Maybe what we lack today is an unconquerable spirit. But it’s never too late!