The Czechoslovak Review/Volume 3/Help the Children

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Czechoslovak Review, volume 3, no. 8 (1919)
edited by Jaroslav František Smetánka
Help the Children by Czechoslovak Information Bureau
4338007The Czechoslovak Review, volume 3, no. 8 — Help the Children1919Czechoslovak Information Bureau

Help the Children

Harvesting is going on in the Czechoslovak Republic, and the fear of famine is definitively removed. Six months ago it looked, as if scenes from India and China—millions of human beings starving to death—would be repeated in fertile Bohemia, where a famine has not been known since the 18th century. But America with its wealth and with its remarkable organizing ability stepped in and fed millions at a distance of six thousand miles from its wheat fields and nearly a thousand miles from the sea. The Czechoslovak nation gratefully acknowledges the great debt it owes to the United States in extending it credit and overcoming all the physical, political and military difficulties connected with the delivery of food from the heart of America to the heart of Europe.

But if the nation as a whole has been saved, death still stalks boldly in the new republic and gathers in by the thousands those who have not yet learned to know what life is, namely the little children. The greatest tragedy of these after-the-war days is the awful slaughter of children which has not been stopped by the armistice. It is a slaughter not by arms or violence, but by disease brought on by insufficient feeding, lack of milk and medicines, exhaustion of mothers and general want.

Think of the tragedy, both individual and national, contained in the following comparison: In 1910 there were 3,440,000 children under the age of 14 in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia; in 1918 there were only 2,848,000. Over 550,000 young lives flickered out before the eyes of their mothers who knew that they could have been saved, if only one had milk and medicines. During the last year of the war death rate of babies under the age of one increased in Prague from 14% to 19%, in some of the suburbs reaching as high as 23%. Compare that with the normal mortality of Zurich babies which is only 7%.

There are skilled physicians and good hospitals in Bohemia, but without drugs and without nourishing food they can accomplish little. Thus in the Children’s Hospital of Prague the death rate in 1913 was only 3%, but in 1917 it was 55%; in the Foundling Home the death rate increased from 6% in 1914 to 21% in 1918. All the skill of the doctors was useless without milk, and milk was not to be had during the war. Very little improvement in this respect has been effected since the armistice. Thus the General Hospital of Prague, which formerly used to get 500 liters of milk a day for its patients, now gets from 50 to 60 liters; in the Maternity Hospital milk can be given only to very sick children; the ration is two liters per day to five children.

The lack of milk is the most serious factor in raising the mortality of the babies, but there is a lack of almost everything else. New-born babies have to be wrapped in paper, as there is no clothing or linen. Medicines are woefully lacking, especially cod liver oil, and so famished for fats are the little bodies that children actually like this remedy. Hospitals are overcrowded. Consumption which formerly took small toll of the children now kills them by thousands. It is said that 82% of babies in Prague are rachitic, anemic or tubercular. Hospitals have no bed linen, no underwear, no soap even. There are not enough beds, and sick children are placed in the still warm beds of those that just died; many are refused admission every day for lack of room. Beds in the wards are placed side by side, in the corridors, in the bathrooms.

Conditions are so terrible and the chances of a baby to live and grow into a sound and healthy man or woman are so small, that one is almost glad of the low birth rate. The decrease is startling. In the city of Prague there were 5510 births in 1914, and only 2675 in 1918. In the large industrial suburb of Žižkov there were 1884 births in 1910, 594 in 1917 and only 350 in 1918, less than a fifth of the normal.

Milk, food, medicines, baby clothing, fresh air will save tens of thousands of young lives. The American Children’s Relief has already accomplished much; it has branch offices all over the Czechoslovak Republic; it has a grant from the Czechoslovak government funds and gets the full co-operation of the Czechoslovak Red Cross. But money and supplies are needed, and Dr. Alice Masaryk looks to the Czechoslovak people in America and to all the friends of the new nation to help the starving and sick children. She asks for milk, plain condensed milk and malted milk, chocolate, cod liver oil, soap in carloads, babies’ garments, underwear and clothing for boys and girls, hospital linen, bed linen, bandages, X ray apparatus, tents for tubercular children, films to be shown to children, and money.

The New York office of the Alice Masaryk Fund is located at 1342 Second Ave. Mrs. Libuše Motak, head of the Relief Department of the American Czechoslovak Board, is in charge of the campaign and acts as the representative of the Czechoslovak Red Cross in America. The Bank of Europe of New York and the Bosak State Bank of Scranton, Pa., consented to act as treasurers of the Fund. Help to save the children of men who fought bravely for the Allies in France, Italy and Siberia.

Czechoslovak Information Bureau.

This work was published before January 1, 1929 and is anonymous or pseudonymous due to unknown authorship. It is in the public domain in the United States as well as countries and areas where the copyright terms of anonymous or pseudonymous works are 95 years or less since publication.

Public domainPublic domainfalsefalse