AUGUST 27, 1947
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—Dr. Martha Eliot of the Children's Bureau, who has recently visited a large number of European countries on behalf of the Children's Emergency Fund of the United Nations, journeyed up here on this hottest of hot days to tell me of conditions among children in Europe. She wonders how we are going to tell people in this country what really is happening to children in other parts of the world and how it will affect our own future well-being if a remedy for these conditions is not shortly found.
Dr. Eliot told me of going through two institutions in Rumania where children from the areas that suffered a famine last year are being cared for. The children were in bed because they were too weak to get up, and the only sign of life was the fact that their eyes followed her. No other motion, no sound of any kind came from them.
Dr. Eliot said she had thought she knew what starved children looked like—she had seen pictures of famine in India and China. But here were people who knew as much about the care of children as we do, and yet she saw children in almost unbelievable condition.
* * *
I don't know how many women in this country realize that Congress has appropriated $40,000,000 for the Children's Emergency Fund on condition that our contribution shall not exceed 57 percent of the total sum raised either in money or goods from all of the contributing countries. The others must raise 43 percent.
A very small amount can come from the countries of Europe themselves, and it is obvious that the largest amount has got to come from North and South America. Canada has appropriated $5,000,000. I hope very much that our sister republics to the south will find their women urging them to have a large share in this fund in which all of the United Nations can cooperate. No differences in politics should enter into it, since children, no matter what their governments may be, must be fed and cared for.
* * *
Help in this case goes purely on a basis of need, and there can be no heart so cold as to be indifferent to the hunger of children. Our Congress has said that only $15,000,000 of our $40,000,000 can be used until the money is matched from other sources, so it is important that the money come in quickly.
I was surprised to be told that, because of the wording of our appropriation bill, it might not be possible to accept other monies which might be donated to the Children's Fund—such, for instance, as the surplus from UNRRA. If this is so, I hope that Congress will see a change is made, for as much money as possible should go toward insuring a strong and healthy next generation in every country. There will be little use in being an isolated island of well-being with dead or dying people all around us.