Official Website of CSI Parish Kattakada, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

Official Website of CSI Parish Kattakada, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
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Dr. Ida Scudder

     Dr. Ida Sophia Scudder (December 9, 1870 – May 24, 1960) will be remembered by the generations to come as the founder of the Vellore Christian Medical College (CMC) and Hopsital. Today, the CMC is the foremost medical college in Asia.

Dr. Ida Sophia Scudder
    Ida was born in India as the daughter of American missionary doctors. Her father Dr. John Scudder Jr and mother Dr. Sophia worked in India with the missionaries of the Reformed Church, an American denomination. Her grandfather Dr. John Scudder Sr had also worked in India as a missionary doctor. Naturally, Ida was expected to become a missionary.

     From her early childhood, Ida was trained by her parents to live under conditions of poverty. This was considered a practical training to live among India’s children. Gradually, she began to feel ashamed of herself for having a full course of meal, when so many kids had practically nothing to eat.

     When she grew up, Ida was sent to a seminary in Massachusetts.  As there was plenty to eat in America, she started to like that country. She did not like the idea of becoming a missionary in India, as it was a country of poor living standards. The society was ridden by caste system and the resultant inequalities. The lives of the common people were tied to superstitions. Famines, poverty and epidemics (spreading diseases) were common. There were no proper schools or hospitals. Hence, she expected to get married and settle in the United States after the seminary education.

In the year 1990, Ida’s mother fell sick. She visited Trivandrum to help her father in providing proper medical care to her mother. Once back in India, 21-year-old Ida helped her parents in their mission work, but secretly she planned her escape. One evening, Ida had settled into her room to enjoy a book. As she turned the pages, her mind drifted to her plans to return to America, marry "Mr. Right," and live out her days in the land of opportunity. The quick footsteps and knock at the door brought Ida back to the present. She looked up to see a young Hindu man trying to get her attention. "My wife is having our first baby and something is wrong," he blurted out. "I was told you could help."
"I'm no doctor, but my father is. He'll help your wife."
The young man's face fell in sadness. "Our religion does not permit a man to even look at my wife's face."
Ida implored him, "But without my father's help, she may die!"

In disbelief, Ida watched the man's sad eyes drop to the floor as he turned to leave whispering, "All is lost."
That night, another Hindu man came to Ida with the same request. He refused her father's help for the same reason. A Muslim also came, seeking help for his pregnant wife. When Ida gave him the same explanation, he replied, "If you cannot help me, then it is better that my wife die, rather than be seen by a strange man." With that, he bowed and left.

Ida spent a sleepless night praying for guidance. She felt she met God that night, and He was calling her to abandon her plans and follow Him.
The next morning, Ida learned that all three women died during the night. These senseless deaths occurred all because there was no female doctor. Now she knew there was a way to help the suffering women.

She prayed aloud, "God, if You want me to stay in India, I will spend the rest of my life trying to help these women." Once she chose to follow God's call, Ida never looked back.
In the coming days, Ida understood that the women in India had inhibitions in visiting male doctors, especially the gynecologists. Death of mothers during child birth was a common feature. So, it required a female doctor to attend the women. That experience convinced her that God wanted her to become a physician and return to help the women of India.