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St George’s News - Waterlooville’s Parish Magazine

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Easter 2020 issue

Audrey Mentor: Life with Save the Children - Part 5

Q: Can you tell us about the Amah you had?

A:  She would be very strict. She would have no nonsense with us. We did all our lessons at home. She would sit with my brother and I when we did our lessons which were done on the veranda every morning. Our Amah was very strict and sat there with her little cane. My brother was angelic, he was as good as gold and never did anything wrong. He was a very serious studious person and we got on very well, I think because we were opposites. I was the wicked one and could never sit still on my chair for 5 minutes. The lessons were set in Shanghai for so many months and sent to my father who would make sure that we did our work. There were no other Europeans close to our Mission station. As I said previously Gladys Aylward’s mission was the nearest and she was 30 miles away. We were well away from civilisation and right out in the wilds.

Q: Can you tell us about your Amah’s feet?

A: Our Amah had bound feet.  Many Chinese women did. It is now of course forbidden – as you can imagine like all children we played on this as she couldn’t run after us.

Q: I have had a request through the post for Bibles for the Chinese.

A: Yes they do want Bibles. I am still in touch with people in China and there has been a great surge in the Christian faith in China. However, within the last 5 years people walking the streets with a Bible in their hand have been shot. They are in a Communist country. There is friction there and you don’t always advertise the fact that you have a Bible in your hand but people are still desperate to get them.

Q: Did you ever have trouble with wild animals in any of the places you were posted to?

A: When we were in the wilds I was once chased by a rhinoceros. I didn’t realise they cannot see sideways so I was grabbed by a black man and thrown out of the way. There was also one occasion when I did see a herd of elephants and felt the ground shaking as they were running.

Q: Did you ever get poorly and would you get sent home?

A: Only once - I did have typhoid fever which was quite common and treatable but apart from this I didn’t get ill. It is possible people would be sent home if they became ill.  

Q: Did you ever suffer from malaria?

A: No I never suffered from malaria but a lot of people did.

Q: Did you come across Leprosy cases?

A: I have worked with it and treated people with it.  

Q: When you came back to England did you carry on nursing?  

A: I did nurse in London for quite a while but then came down to nurse my mother who had cancer. My mother also trained as a nurse at Barts so you can imagine I never did anything right!

Q: When you were in China did you speak English at home?  

A: A bit of both really as all the children I mixed with were Chinese. I found it very difficult to adjust to an English boarding school where I was sent when we returned to England.

Everyone thanked Audrey for her talk which everyone found fascinating.

We hope that this serialisation over the past months is something you have found interesting too.

This is the fourth part of a record of a talk given by Audrey Mentor at St George’s on Monday 17 December 2018, Here we conclude with the second part of the Question and Answer session.

Audrey has had a wonderful and interesting life working in China and Africa and she gave this talk about her experiences working with Aid Agencies in many places throughout the world.