30
APR
2014

The First Chinese Canadian Nurse and Mother to Chinese Orphans: Agnes Chan

The First Chinese Canadian Missionary Nurse: Agnes Bertha Fungho Ai Chan (1904?-1962)

We are fortunate now to have enough to eat, and a house to live in, and clothes to wear. It is like a dream the hard years I had with the children. But I am glad of them, for they brought me nearer to the real values of life, and showed me how wonderful is God’s love and mercies.

Agnes Chan, May 2, 1947.

Agnes Chan, also known as Ah Fung as a child, was born in China to a poor family with six daughters. Ah Fung was bought by his father’s friend but unfortunately, her mistress, decided to sell her to another family when she was fourteen. By the providence of God, she was received by a Christian family where she came to know Jesus Christ. Due to the passing of the husband of the family, Ah Fung was sold to another family in Victoria, British Columbia.

One evening after unjust treatment from her new master in Victoria, she left the home and knocked on the door of the Chinese Rescue Home, a missionary home school in Victoria. She was welcomed into the home and given a new Christian name, Agnes. Agnes interpreted for the missionary whenever they visited Chinatown.

Agnes was an earnest Christian with a sincere faith. When Agnes heard the news that her baby sister was sold, she wanted to quit school in order to earn the money to redeem her sister. The Women Missionary Society (W.M.S.) of the Presbyterian Church in Toronto decided to lend Agnes the money so that she could redeem her sister and also remain in school.

After Agnes graduated from high school, she was sent to Women’s College Hospital in Toronto by the recommendation of the W. M. S.  She graduated from the Women’s College Hospital in 1923 and received the “highest standing in theory – and practical obstetrical nursing.” Following her graduation, she took post-graduate courses in Detroit, in children’s work.

In the Fall of 1924, Agnes was recommended by the Methodist Mission to serve as the Assistant Matron at the large hospital and Girl’s School in Fatshan. Before she finished her first term, she was appointed as the Superintendent of Nurses in the hospital. She was appointed as one of four official delegates from China to attend the International Congress of Nurses held in Montreal in 1929. Afterwards, she received additional education in public health in Toronto.

In addition to her contribution in nursing and hospital administration, Agnes developed a special passion towards the care of orphans. When the city of Canton fell in the autumn of 1938, Agnes and other missionaries established the Springfield Orphanage as a home for the abandoned children.

Agnes was later transferred to the hospital in Wuchow. She stayed at the hospital until the very last minute in order to rescue a baby from the Japanese invasion. Her assistant and all the other children had left by boat. When all her hope was gone, her faith “never wavered.” A farmer appeared with a little boat and he took Agnes and the baby to join her friends and the rest of the children. Once again Agnes experienced the faithfulness and miraculous care of her God.

“During the year of evacuation, Miss Chan, Miss Taam and other nurses, were able to support the family of 17 children, and 4 refugees by their medical work” and God looked after them. When word about her work with the orphans reached home in Canada, her friends from Victoria, Vancouver and Toronto all sent financial support for the orphans.

Reference Sources:
“The Story of Miss Agnes Chan, R. N.” Bob Steward Archives, United Church of Canada, Vancouver.
Agnes Chan Clipping Files. The Women’s College Hospital Archives, Toronto.


陳素懷:首位加拿大華裔護士宣教士及中國孤兒的母親 [中譯文]

「現在我們很有福氣,吃得飽,有屋住,還有衣服穿。我與兒童所遇的艱苦年日如發了一場夢。然而我為那些日子感恩,因為它們令我更靠近生命的真正意義,並且使我經歷神的慈愛和憐憫是何等的浩大。」

陳素懷,一九四七年五月二日

陳素懷,少時家人叫她亞鳳,出生於中國一個有六名女兒的貧苦家庭。當一個家庭陷入窮困苦境時,當時常見的做法,就是賣自己的兒女給較富有的家庭,希望他們能過較好的生活。亞鳳就是這樣被賣給她的父親一位朋友。買主承諾會當她如親生女兒那樣養育她。不幸地,亞鳳14歲時,女主人聽算命先生之言,認為亞鳳會出走,就決定在這事發生前將她賣給另一家人。在神的安排下,她被接待到一個基督徒家庭裡。她跟她的新家庭到教會去,認識了耶穌基督。兩年後因男主人逝世環境有所轉變,女主人再無力留她在家中。這一次她被賣到卑詩省維多利亞市的一個家庭。

亞鳳聽聞市內有一間宣教士主辦的收容中心和學校 — 中華救援之家,她十分渴望能進去。有一晚她受到維多利亞的新主人虐待後,出走家門,便去敲中華救援之家的門。她向宣教士解釋她的處境及提到自己是個基督徒,她們歡迎她加入這個家,並為她起了一個新英文名:Agnes。她在救援之家除了上課讀書和遊戲外,還陪同宣教士探訪唐人街,替宣教士翻譯。在救援之家讀完小學後,她就上中學,接受Grace Baker小姐的教導。

素懷具真誠的信心,是個認真的基督徒。當她從一位朋友的口中得悉自己的親生父母終於生了一個兒子時,她歡欣雀躍,說:「神答應了我的禱告。我多次的求祂給我從父母而來的消息,結果今天我得著了;我的禱告蒙應允。」不過,聽到好消息後,壞消息接踵而來:她的妹妹被賣到另一個家庭去。當素懷接獲這消息時,她差點想綴學,出外工作賺錢來贖回妹妹。她將這重擔放在神的面前,並且將她的擔憂告訴宣教士。多倫多長老會的婦女宣教聯會決定借錢給她,讓她能贖回她的妹妹,並且繼續學業,更安置她的妹妹在佛山循道衛理女子學校。

素懷中學畢業後,馬田小姐幫助她向多倫多婦女宣教聯會的董事會申請,安排她進多倫多女子大學醫院學習,因為當時的加拿大西岸沒有一間醫院願意接收華裔學生。素懷於一九二三年畢業於女子大學醫院,並獲「產科護理的理論與實踐兩科最高的名次」。畢業後她往美國底特律深造,進修兒童護理課程。

一九二四年秋天,循道差會推薦素懷到佛山最大的醫院和女子學校做副總管。還未做滿首個任期,她已晉升為醫院護士學校的總監。一九二九年她被委派出席在滿地可市舉行的國際護士代表大會,是中國官方四名代表中的一員。隨後她在多倫多進修公共衛生教育課程。

除了對護理和醫院行政的貢獻外,素懷培養了一份照顧孤兒的特別熱愛。一九三八年秋天,廣州市淪陷,許多嬰兒,尤其是女的,被棄置於街頭。這些孤兒先被安置在循道醫院的兒童病房裡。當數目不斷增多時,素懷和其他宣教士創立春田孤兒院,收養被遺棄的兒童,讓他們有一個家。其後素懷被調往梧州市醫院繼續她的護理和照顧孤兒的工作。

當日軍撤出梧州,下令摧毀全城時,素懷留在醫院直至最後一分鐘,為要援救還被棄在醫院內的一名嬰孩。那時她的助理和全部其他兒童已乘船離開。看見所有船隻已被人租用了,她起先不知道自己如何能帶著那嬰孩逃難。她幾乎灰心絕望,但她的信心「從不動搖」。一名農夫,搖著小船,要運送自己種的菜蔬到市場去販賣,就在此時出現。結果他乘送著素懷和那嬰孩去與她的朋友和其他兒童相會。素懷再一次經歷到神的信實和對她奇妙的看顧。

「在撤離期間,陳小姐、譚小姐和其他護士們藉救援工作養活了十七名兒童和四名難民」,並且神照顧她們。當關於她的孤兒事工的消息傳到加拿大,她在維多利亞、溫哥華和多倫多的眾多朋友都紛紛匯錢來支持孤兒們。


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