In the coming week, the world celebrates women and womanhood. Women are not only mothers, wives, sisters and daughters who fill our lives with so much beauty and love, but many of them have also inspired humanity towards greater goodness. Due to some unfortunate social biases that exist in our world, life has always been more challenging for women. Some succumbed to these difficulties, some went with the flow, but some women were refined through hard experiences and emerged as history-makers. As we celebrate womanhood, we will be remembering the lives some of these great women in a series of articles.
One such woman was Ida Scudder. Ida’s grandfather and parents were medical missionaries to India, belonging to the Reformed Church in America. Being born in 1870 and brought up in India, Ida witnessed the famine, poverty and ill-health that was so widespread in the country at that time. She then went to the USA for her studies, and aspired to start a family and settle down there, having resolved not to become a medical missionary like her parents. In 1890, Ida had to travel back to India to help her father when her mother fell sick at the mission bungalow at Tindivanam in the Madras Province.
During this stay, she had a life-changing experience one night when she witnessed the death of three women during childbirth. These women refused to be treated by male doctors due to their orthodox beliefs. As there were no female gynaecologists or even a female general physician, they could not be given the treatment they needed. Ida stood by and watched helplessly as these women died before her very eyes. This traumatic incident convinced Ida that God was calling her to become a female physician to help women in India. She stayed unmarried throughout her life in order to devote herself wholly to this mission. She went back to the USA, completed her medical degree, then came back to India and established a clinic for women in Vellore. Within two years, she treated 5,000 patients. To cut a long story short, Ida Scudder went on to become the founder of the Christian Medical College in Vellore, which continues to be one of the premier medical colleges and research institutions in the country today.
Even today, this is the message that Ida Scudder’s life speaks to all the women out there: the journey is not as pleasant as it should be. Often we feel lost, worn out, defeated and overwhelmed by the immense injustice and difficulties we see around us. But no matter how tough life gets, God is always more than able to use those who are willing to submit themselves into His hands; those who are willing to stand up and become a part of the solution to those overwhelming problems. The circumstances are not what eventually matter; all that matters eventually is whose hands you are in!