RELIEF FOR BELGIUM
American relief work for Belgium---American Committee for War Charities of Queen of Belgium---Sou du Mutilé----Committee for Relief of Belgium---Prisoners in Germany---Oeuvre Belge du Lait pour les Petits---La Santé de l'Enfance---Mayfair War Relief-Millicent Sutherland Ambulance---King Albert's Civilian Hospital Fund.
SCARCELY had brave little Belgium entered upon her long season of horror and hardship before American women were planning to help the starving women and children of the invaded districts. It is significant that an American woman, Mrs. Vernon Kellogg, of California, was a member of the American Commission for Relief in Belgium, of which Mr. Herbert Hoover was chairman. Of the wonderful work done by women in these trying days in starving Belgium Mr. Hoover himself said: "This service has been given, not by tens, but by thousands, and it is a service that in turn has summoned a devotion, kindliness and tenderness in the Belgian and French women that has welded all classes with the spiritual bond unknown in any people before. It has implanted in the national heart and the national character a quality which is in some measure a compensation for the calamities through which these people are passing.
The soul of Belgium received a grievous wound, but the women of Belgium are stanching the flow-sustaining and leading this stricken nation to greater strength and to greater life." Of America's part in the great work of relief for starving Belgium Mr. Hoover said: "The pathos of the long lines of expectant, chattering mites, each with a ticket of authority pinned to its chest or held in a grimy fist, never depresses the mind of childhood. In this work America has a duty and the women of America a privilege."
In her thrilling story of how the women of Belgium turned their tragedies to triumph Mrs. Kellogg expressed the beautiful spirit of woman's service and woman's devotion. How American women have fulfilled their obligation to stricken Belgium is told in the history of the organizations that are doing relief work for Belgium.
The American Committee collecting for the war charities of the Queen of Belgium was formed by American sympathizers to assist Queen Elizabeth of the Belgians in her work among the destitute and stricken people of that oppressed country. The committee cooperates with the War Relief Clearing House for France and her Allies. There is also a cooperating committee in Paris of which Mrs. William G. Sharp, wife of the American ambassador, is honorary president. American Office, 360 Madison Ave., New York City. The Sou du Mutilé is one of the most important Belgian relief organizations and is recognized by the Belgian Government. It is patronized by their Majesties King Albert and Queen Elizabeth. When Mr. Stalins submitted the plan for this organization to the Government he was at once greatly encouraged by the Belgian Ministers Vandervelde, Carton de Wiart, and Poullet. In the latter part of 1916, one of the greatest honors that may be conferred upon an organization was granted to the Sou du Mutilé. M. Poullet, Belgian Minister at the Hague, at the request of M. Schollaert, Minister at Havre, in charge of the supervision of the war relief charities, informed the committee that the Sou du Mutilé had been recognized by the Belgian Government as of public utility and placed under its control.
Of the work one of the officers said: "At the end of the war, nearly all the different organizations that are now collecting funds for the victims of this gigantic struggle, will see their activities ended. Regarding the 'Sou du Mutilé' it is quite different and the real task, that of aiding our brave mutilated, blinded soldiers, will only have begun for us. The principal aim of the Committee is to furnish these men with the necessary funds, so that they may be able to start, in Belgium under the supervision of the Government, small commercial enterprises which will enable them to earn again their living. The necessarily small allowance given them by the Government would, indeed, be insufficient for their support and that of their families. You see thus that the Sou du Mutilé, will prove an extremely great help in the reëstablishment of ordinary living of our maimed soldiers. "
The Sou du Mutilé has been placed in New York under the auspices of M. Pierre Moli, Belgian Consul General, and Rev. J. F. Stillemans, president of the Belgian Relief Fund and director of the Belgian Bureau.
The U.S.A. Section of Committee for Relief of Belgian Prisoners in Germany, 360 Madison Ave., New York City, is one of the most important of the relief organizations of America. Entirely upon the activities of this organization depend the lives of more than 40,000 Belgian prisoners of war who are in danger of starving and freezing to death. They cannot receive either messages or food or clothing from their families or homes, and these must be supplied through the Committee, which, upon request, supplies any contributor with the name of a prisoner and on behalf of that person will send parcels regularly to the prisoner, undertaking to see that he receives the parcel safely. The name of a prisoner for adoption will be furnished upon application. Up to June, 1917, receipts for the Belgian prisoners amounted to 2,500,000 francs. The Committee requires 650,000 francs each month to supply food and clothing to these prisoners. The American Committee consists of Mrs. William Astor Chanler, Mrs. W. Corcoran Eustis, Mrs. J. Borden Harriman, Mrs. Pierre Mali, Mrs. Walter E. Maynard, Hon. Louis de Sadeleer, Mrs. W. Douglas Sloane, Mrs. W. Payne Thompson, Mrs. Fiske Warren, Mrs. H. Fish Webster, Miss Maude K. Wetmore , and Mrs. E. Wharton.
Besides the meritorious work of the American Aid for Homeless Belgian Children, which aims particularly to help Belgian children in France, two other institutions have been started since 1916 for the protection of the children of invaded Belgium.
After the sacrilegious invasion of Belgium, seven million people were captives in their own country under the most barbarian rule. According to official information, conditions among the Belgian population were getting desperate, a great number of the poorer classes dying of privation and lack of proper nourishment. Among them were more than one million little children, greatly debilitated on account of lack of food, and the death rate among them increased appallingly.
These two institutions are doing wonderful work and are highly patronized by the Belgian Government; one, the Oeuvre Belge du Lait pour les Petits (Milk for the Belgian Babies) has its headquarters in Antwerp; the other, La Santé de l'Enfance (Health of the Children), in Brussels.
Both have a committee in Holland, where they are sending the most affected children for a vacation of three or four weeks, this in accordance with an agreement made with the Dutch authorities and the German Governor of Invaded Belgium.
The most important work is done in Belgium, where branches of the committees have been created in the largest cities and towns, to take care of the children at home. Besides this, "special homes" have been organized in the healthiest parts of the country, where the children are sent for a vacation and a period of proper nourishment.
Both are patronized by the Belgian Legation at Washington, the Belgian Consuls in the United States, and the Hon. L. de Sadeleer, Belgian Minister of State, residing in New York. Assistance has been given to these institutions by many Americans, by the Belgian Relief Committee of the Emergency Aid of Philadelphia, Pa., by the Belgian Relief Committee of New York, etc. Miss Marie-Louise de Sadeleer, daughter of the Belgian Minister of State, has rendered a valuable service by forwarding all donations to the directors of the Oeuvre Belge du Lait pour les Petits and La Santé de l'Enfance, through the courtesy of is Excellency the Honorable Prosper Poullet, Minister of Science and Fine Arts of Belgium, who has a permanent office at The Hague, Holland. All gifts reach these institutions in full, no expenses being deducted therefrom.
Miss Marie-Louise de Sadeleer, may be addressed c/o Belgian Consulate, 25 Madison Avenue, New York, N. Y.
The Mayfair War Relief, 657 Fifth Ave., New York City, was organized at the outbreak of the war to supply relief to the Belgian refugees, but it activities have since been expanded, and during 1916 and 1917 several hundred thousand articles have been sent to the hospitals abroad. There are forty-two sustaining members who support a guaranteed fund which covers current expenses. There are a number of sub-committees established throughout the country, and the special package department has become of large importance to the friends and relatives of French and Belgian soldiers, their neglected families and the refugees from evacuated regions. The Boy Comrade Service handles correspondence from more than 1,800 American boys with French, Belgian and British soldiers.
Approximately $150,000 has been raised in the United States for the support of the hospital established by the Duchess of Sutherland during the early part of the invasion of Belgium, later taken over by the Red Cross with the Duchess of Sutherland in charge. This is known as the Millicent Sutherland Ambulance. Mrs. Benjamin Guinness is Chairman for the American Committee. American office, No. 8 Washington Square, North, New York City.
Miss Elizabeth Gaskell Norton,Miss Sara Norton, of Boston, have, without the formation of an American committee, sent funds to the British Section of the Belgian Official Committee of Help for Refugees in France, which charity is for the King Albert's Civilian Hospital Fund of Belgium. The object of the Fund is to assist Belgium maternity homes and crèches. Many garments and other supplies have been forwarded for this purpose, including $1,100 realized from a booth conducted by these young ladies at the Allied Bazaar of Boston.
Chapter XXXIII. Relief Work in France
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