Tuesday, March 5, 2019




Dr Minnie  Goomery (1875-1967)

The Christian missionaries were pioneers in bringing  modern medicine and Education to kashmir. Who does nor  remember Neve brothers , two missionary doctors who worked in  kashmir during late 19th and early 20th century   . They did  exemplary humanitarian work during famines , Cholera Epidemics and Earthquakes.

It may not be out of place to mention that
William  Jackson Elmslie ( 1832-  1872) was the first medical missionary deputed to kashmir By Christian Missionaries . He arrived in kashmir during the spring of 1865 and after initially working  under Shady chinar trees, he set up first Missionary hospital at Amirakadal  in srinagar city. He was a Scot who did excellent work from the year   1865 to 1872. Dr. Elmslie  laid the groundwork for subsequent  missionary  doctors like Theodore Maxwell and Neve brothers.
Dr Elmslie  spoke fluent kashmiri and In 1872, he  published the first ever Kashmiri-English dictionary.

Another name that comes to my mind is Dr Minnie Gomery  .She was a Canadian doctor  who stayed in kashmir for about fifty years. Devoting  her life to Christian Medical Mission , She arrived in Kashmir during the spring of 1900 .In Kashmir ,she found that apart from spirituality  ,people needed body healing  . Poverty ,disease and ignorance moved her heart. She worked as General physician and Surgeon at Mission Hospital Anantnaag and Rainawari. The present Government Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial  Hospital at Surrateng Rainawari was  actually opened by Christian Missionaries exclusively for women.

I am told that like Neve brothers, she  would comfort her patients  saying:
" Balai Lagai .Zoov Vandai "
" This body  at your service . This life for you "

She is reported to have trained hundreds of midwives to perform normal deliveries in Hygienic manner . She performed countless  surgeries and  attended her OPD till 8PM .  Apart from spreading love and compassion, she counselled women on cleanliness and education.She remained at Rainawari Hospital for a major period of her stay in Kashmir . At her insistence , Christian Missionaries started first girls School in Kashmir.
Though officially she retired in  1935, yet she continued to serve kashmir till 1953.  Finally at an advanced  age of 78 , she left left  kashmir and  settled permanently in Montreal Canada.

Some elderly people told me that Dr Gomery  would sing kashmiri  songs to some critical   patients.  She had done  a deep study of kashmiri literature. In 1943, she  had  published a small booklet of kashmiri songs written in praise of Jesus  Christ. In 1967,  After retirement  ,she published her first kashmiri  poetic collection . Written in Roman script ,the book is titled " kashier Geivun Poshmaal"

Unfortunately ,nobody  knows her in Kashmir. Isn't she an icon who deserves a memorial?

(Avtar Mota)

CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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