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Deaconesses in Europe and their Lessons for Americ

And asylums of every description


In

Germany deaconesses are often trained to special duties that are required in hospitals for certain diseases or certain classes of patients, and they are becoming so skillful in their duties that the present system of hospital nursing could not be continued without their aid.

The nursing care of deaconesses in insane asylums is especially valuable. The large and well-ordered Insane Asylum for Female Patients in Kaiserswerth, with its long lists of cases soundly cured, shows how healthful and important is the quiet, constant influence of intelligent Christian attendance upon those who are mentally unsound.

The usefulness of deaconesses as care-takers in all kinds of hospitals and homes for the aged, and asylums of every description, is so apparent that it does not need to be dwelt upon. The _creche_, or day home, where infants and young children can be sheltered and watched during the day while their mothers are at work, is an institution that started in Paris in 1834, through the efforts of M. Marbeau, one of the mayors of a district of the city. This is now incorporated into the government system of Paris, and the idea has spread to neighboring lands, so that such homes are found in many of the cities in South Germany and Switzerland. It is true that there are no nurses that can care for children as the true mother, but where mothers have to be absent from morning until night engaged at hard work, and the little

ones are left neglected at home, or in the care of other children who are themselves young enough to need very nearly the same attention that is bestowed on the infants; or where the mothers are such in name, but in reality are failing in every quality which we attach to that sacred office; or where the foundling hospital is the only alternative to which the real mother, confronted by the necessity of earning bread for herself and child, can turn--in such cases the _creche_ is a real benefaction whose existence has enabled families to keep together, and children to be given a chance in life who otherwise would have had small prospect of keeping soul and body together.

There is another institution, called the waiting-school, where children from two to four years of age are received, whose parents both go daily to work, and who would be left to wander about the streets unless this place of refuge were opened to them. The _creche_, or day home, seeks only to watch over the infants who are put in its care, or to amuse them and keep them contented; the waiting-school goes further, and tries to give the little ones some ideas of discipline and the elementary beginnings of instruction. Fliedner, who was a lover of children, took great interest in both these institutions, and in his school for infant-school teachers prepared deaconesses especially for the duties that are required in teachers of this class. The motherly heart, the gift of story-telling and singing, a pleasant and unruffled demeanor, the quiet but firm inculcation of order and obedience--these and other qualities Fliedner sought to develop in instructors for these schools.

The day homes have already been introduced into many places in the United States, and often cover the field of both the _creche_ and waiting-school, but there is a wide opportunity for the extension of their usefulness; and whether in the future, when the demands upon Christian deaconesses shall be much more multiplex than they are now, it may be


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