Letter from Burma 21
September 5, 1935
We had an interesting time meeting up with an American minister and his brand new wife, John and Vivian Cady, who are at Judson College at the University at Rangoon, but are on a tour of the southern areas at the moment. They arrived in Burma on July 28th, having visited in China and Japan. Vivian wrote up her expereinces and when they were here she told us how worried she had been. I am quoting from her writing, so you will see that she agrees with me in many of her statements about her first impressions of this place.
They changed boats at Hong Kong and Penang, and eventually reached Rangoon. It was the height of the monsoon rainy season, and she said the five mile ride to the University campus traversed a drenched city with a population far more Indian than Burmese. The street traffic included rickshaws, freight cars being pulled by coolies, pony drawn gharries, and slow moving ox-carts.
On the roads they had to dodge past goats, dogs and cows standing calmly on the roadway. Yellow robed monks from the golden covered pagoda shrine trail about in single file from place to place, giving the people a daily opportunity to continue and accumulate merit. Just across the road skirting the pagoda with its massive buddish imagery in an 18 hole golf course. She mentioned modern talkies compete with snake charmers for audiences. The whole is a mingling of east and west. Much in Burma is permanent and unchanging from the golden pagodas and the variegated dress to which the people cling, to the beautiful tints of the sunsets. Burmese are a mirth loving people, intelligent and friendly but lacking political experience and capacity in economic affairs. The spirit of nationalism is definitely abroad, largely racial and religious in character and to predict the outcome is difficult.
Vivian said, “One likes to think that Christianity will contribute much that is indispensable to the future well being of Burma but the impact of Western civilization will demoralize and enslave these people economically.”
The Cays were in lower Burma to get a close look at the delta countryside during a visit to the Thonze mission station where their friends the Lattas are in charge. John told us that Mr. Latta explained the natives are faced with a collapsing world market for Burma's surplus rice. Feeble governmental efforts to promote the availability of cooperative credits for faltering paddy farmers has left them with no alternative but to solicit loans from Indian Chettyar moneylenders, who charge high interest rates and foreclosed promptly on unpaid mortgages. For Burmese to abandon their cultivation means competing as common labourers with alien coolies from Indian who earned only eight annas (19 cents) a day. During recent depression years, the Chettyars have acquired title to an estimated one quarter of the vast riceland of Burma delta areas, and they hold mortgages on much of the remainder.
The Cays say their health objectives include improved sanitation and water supplies, correction of digestive disorders, eye and skin infections. The Rangoon Red Cross and governmental health services provided transportation and visiting specialist. Vivian helps by keeping medical supplies in order and by offering instruction to village women in sewing and clothing care.
We are having Hilde over for a few days.
One of our chicks has died.