My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK, Tuesday—I spent the day yesterday at the United Nations listening to speeches on the manner in which we should continue on a permanent basis what has been the work of the Children's Emergency Fund.

The speeches, for the most part, were on a very high plane, but I felt that something which had been said in my television show was being proved over and over again. I think it was General Romulo who said it would take a long time for the peoples of the Far East to get over the idea that the peoples of the West were primarily interested in exploitation. And even though it might be only exploitation carried on by businessmen it still had been exploitation. The United States would have to make its words and its deeds agree with each other, he said, for the background was one in which the peoples of the West had not always carried out their promises.

That is just about the feeling I find prevalent among many people in Committee #3 as regards the United States suggestions that, since we are embarking on a new and colossal program to try and improve conditions throughout the world for children, the emphasis should be on projects that can help nations to help themselves. We agree that during the demonstration of those projects and during the period while the projects are being brought to fruition, large quantities of supplies may be needed not only in connection with the projects. They will be necessary, also, to meet the immediate needs of children which on the completion of the projects we hope can be met by the countries themselves.

Many delegates feel, however, that the whole resolution of the Economic and Social Council is one designed to prevent supplies being given in the Pacific area. They feel the difficulties were not created by the war but by conditions of life over a long period of time. And these conditions have created far greater hardships than ever were suffered in Europe.

It is true that before we had a United Nations we sent help to India and China to meet specific needs. But I don't think without the United Nations it would have occurred to any one of us that we could tackle the problems of improving conditions for children on a worldwidescale.

Now at last we have accepted it, but I fear the feeling that we are not to be trusted will make it impossible either to set up a board on a scale that will help nations to work out projects or to believe that we are willing as long as supplies are really necessary, to continue shipping such supplies.

For instance, one of the delegates cited the fact that they were carrying out an anti-syphilis program that required certain necessities and said he imagined that would not be considered a proper program because they were never going to be able to produce the needs for such a program. I remarked that this would not be an emergency. It would be a project to prepare the people concerned so that they would be able to carry out a full program.

It seems very simple to me and I shall be surprised if both the people of the United States and the Congress do not agree with me in feeling that supplies must be provided. But to provide supplies unaccompanied and without primary emphasis on the ability of countries eventually to help themselves makes very little sense. It is like pouring water into a bucket without any bottom. The supplies will disappear and you will have nothing left.

Of course, the whole question is tied up with the basic economic development in all these countries.

Nevertheless, there are special projects that can be carried on to meet children's needs which, when demonstrated, will prove their value and change the world picture where children are concerned.

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL