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Clara A Swain Md by Mrs. Robert Hoskins


The need for a dispensary and hospital became daily more imperative, and it was opportunely met in the munificent gift of the Nawab of Rampore, who owned an estate adjoining the mission premises in Bareilly. The Hon. Mr. Drummond, the commissioner of the Northwest Provinces, was interested in mission work, especially in the effort to help the women of the city and neighboring villages through medical aid, and he agreed with the missionaries that the Nawab's estate was just what was needed to carry out their plans. He therefore arranged that Mr. Thomas should go to Rampore and in a personal interview represent to the Nawab his desire to procure a portion of his estate in Bareilly which adjoined the mission property, for the purpose of establishing a hospital for women.

Accordingly, on receiving an intimation that the Nawab would receive them, on October 8, 1871, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas and Dr. Swain set out for this momentous interview. An interesting description of this visit is given in Mrs. Gracey's book, |Woman's Medical Work in Foreign Lands,| and in Dr. Swain's book, |A Glimpse of India.| Mr. Thomas's carefully prepared Hindustani speech was not finished before the Nawab replied graciously, |Take it! It is yours! I give it to you with great pleasure for such a purpose.|

Mrs. Thomas naively wrote: |We were so amazed at the readiness and graciousness of the gift that we nearly forgot to make our salaams and express our thanks and gratitude. The Nawab replied that there were two great merits in this gift -- one for himself and one for Mr. Thomas, for taking so great interest in the charitable work. Mr. Thomas then asked permission to found the first hospital for women in India in His Highness's name, to which he replied, 'As you think proper, so do.' So His Highness Mahomed Kallub Ali Khan, Bahadur, Nawab of Rampore, has the honor of making the first generous contribution toward founding the first woman's hospital in India. His Highness again expressed the satisfaction he felt in bestowing this gift, and said he would send his general to Bareilly on Monday to make out the papers and put us in formal possession of the property.|

Before the party left the Nawab's dominions, the ladies were asked to see a sick woman in the Tahsildar's house, and they found her very ill indeed. Dr. Swain prescribed for her and for several others who asked for medicines; then they returned to the Rest House to get their breakfast and talk over the interview, and to thank God for his great bounty to the mission work.

Mrs. Thomas wrote: |We were bewildered and overwhelmed to think that the possessions which we had longed and prayed for these many years were ours. The gift came to us so freely and in such a way that we could take no credit to ourselves for having obtained it. Like all God's free gifts it was given before asked for; no persuasions or arguments of ours would have made any difference. God saw our need and supplied it.|

The estate consisted of forty acres of land, a fine old kothi or mansion, and an extensive garden. The house needed repairs which were soon completed and Dr. Swain and Miss Sparkes, who had been appointed to take charge of the orphanage, moved into their new home January 1, 1872. A part of the house was used for a dispensary until other arrangements could be made, and then followed busy and often weary days, borne with patience, however, for the work was for the Master.

The much-needed and well-planned dispensary building was completed in May, 1873, and the hospital buildings connected with it received the first indoor patients January 1, 1874. From that time on there was no lack of occupants for the rooms. In the published collection of her letters, entitled |A Glimpse of India,| Dr. Swain gives a graphic picture of the buildings, their occupants and their mode of life.

Visits to homes in the city were continued, and Dr. Swain and her assistants were fully occupied every day. Three of the graduates of the medical class were employed by Dr. Swain as Bible women and gave much assistance in the religious work connected with the hospital.

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