Friday, March 08, 2013

Eglantyne Jebb

The founder of the Save the Children Fund was a single woman from a relatively privileged background, an early graduate of Oxford university. After spending many years in charitable work and looking after her elderly mother, she finally found her real galvanizing purpose towards the end of the First World War and shortly afterwards. First she campaigned against press censorship by publishing translated excerpts from the foreign press. After the war she started campaigning against the continuing blockade of Germany, and raising funds for starving German children, including getting herself arrested in the process. She is credited with helping shift British attitudes from one of vindictiveness after the first war to a humanitarian and internationalist one. Some quotes: 'Every generation of children... offers mankind anew the possibility of rebuilding his ruin of a world'Eglantyne Jebb, founder of the Save The Children Fund. (From her biography by Clare Mulley, The Woman Who Saved The Children, p249) 'Nobody can indeed be a real patriot at the present day unless his deepest wish for his country is that it should worthily play its part in the wider service of humanity.' p275 Her biorgrapher records stages in her life when Jebb may have overstepped a line in showing love to a dear female friend, and another when she was involved, somewhere between imagination and encounter involving letters with a dead male colleague. But more orthodox Anglicans recognized her faith and Jebb herself testified to a life-changing ecounter with Christ in 1900. Much later, around 1920 she wrote: 'In these tragic days so full of darkness and terror -- what happiness and peace can neverthless be ours if we can realize Christ in our midst. He, here with us now ... giving us directions day by day as to the ways in which we are to undertake practical service for his Kingdom.' (p 298)