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St George’s News - Waterlooville’s Parish Magazine

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New Year 2020 issue

Audrey Mentor: Life with Save the Children - Part 4

Q: were you in basic camps yourself?

A: not always no, very often we were working in very tough conditions particularly in Africa. We had our bed rolls in the tents and we would pick it up and give it a good shake before getting into it as you were never sure what might be at the bottom of it. It could be quite hair-raising from time to time.

Q: how were you fed?

A: we had supplies that came to us but sometimes we were short of water.  It was very difficult at times and not an easy life.

Q: Medically were you well looked after?

A: Lorries came through from the city but sometimes didn’t make it through as they were raided and we had to improvise sometimes.

Q: can you tell us a little more about your life in China?

A: I lived in North China, Sichuan, right at the top miles from anywhere.  It’s all on my mother’s side of the family funnily enough. Her parents and grandparents were missionaries over there. You may have heard of James Hudson Taylor who was a missionary and relative of ours. Missionary work goes back a long way on that side of the family and still is today.  There are still some family members working out in India now.  

Q: How did your family meet Gladys Aylward?

A: We were 30 miles from Gladys Aylward’s mission station. She was on the main road where they were bringing donkeys and camels through with food and she used to give them meals and house them in the mission station.  What made her famous was the children. My family was the same. We were all caught up in the Second World War and were advised to get out and Gladys travelled down to Shanghai travelling with children as described in the film The Inn of the 6th Happiness.  There was a lot of truth in that film except the ending as she didn’t have a boyfriend! We travelled down at the same time as her. She did a wonderful amount of work for her children. Not everyone was successful.  Gladys’ mission was raided on several occasions by the Chinese and by the Red Army who are known as Communists today. It took us nearly three months to get to Shanghai, going from mission station to mission station and when we got there we had to wait to see if we could get a ship home or a ship somewhere. Many went to Australia and New Zealand. We finally got a cargo boat which took 12 passengers and came back to England. My father stayed behind as did all the men and sadly he died in the intern camp in Shanghai and we did not see him again after we left that country. That’s the reason I think why when I first joined Save the Children I was rather nervous to go back to the Far East it held a lot of memories which I would have perhaps rather have forgotten. Nevertheless the Lord works in wonderful ways and I did go.


Q: How did you cope with saving the children in the various countries if food did not get through or you had a limited amount how did you decide who to treat or feed?  

A: You are asking a question which we could hardly answer.  Yes we had to ration food and there were times when we gave them our own food. Sometimes they did go hungry as we couldn’t get the supplies through. It wasn’t easy. Lorries coming through were often raided as they got out into the country by people wanting food and the drivers had no protection for themselves. They were very brave people.


Q: I have heard of missionary schools in Africa but not heard of missionary schools in China.  Were there any?

A: Oh yes. In the main cities there were schools but out in the wilds/rural areas – I am going back a few years so I imagine things will have changed now but it is now much more Westernised. I imagine possibly if you went out to the rural area there must still be quite isolated places as China is such a large place.

This is the fourth part of a record of a talk given by Audrey Mentor at St George’s on Monday 17 December 2018, and moves on to the Question and Answer session which followed Audrey’s presentation.

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.

James Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission (now OMF International)