Story of "Honmyoji-first saw lepers" #2

Miss Ada Hannah Wright

She carried on Miss Riddell's work among the patients. She had been educated in Switzerland, which was traditional among the British high society of her day.

After coming to Japan she worked for 27 years in Kagoshima, Saitama, Ibaragi, and Iwate Prefectures until she came to work for her aunt in 1932.

Miss Riddell was a tall dignified and brave woman, as opposed to Miss Wright, who was a small, neat woman with an everlasting smile. Miss Wright always seemed to be walking behind Miss Riddell, who was the more outgoing and active of the two. Nevertheless, since the patients had called Miss Riddell mother, she humbled herself by asking them to call her mother-in-law, because she loved them just as much as Miss. Riddell had.

In 1940 international tension became stronger and the British and American people who were living in Japan at the time, even those at the hospital, were sometimes considered spies. Tension became so severe that plainclothesmen sometimes stayed overnight. British and Americans at the hospital were allowed to converse with patients, but only in the presence of a policeman and conversations could only be held in Japanese. When the manager of the hospital was put into prison, Miss Wright wrote to influential Christians in Kumamoto saying, "Please ask the police to release the manager and put me into prison instead."

On February 3, 1941, the 9th anniversary of Miss Riddell's death, Miss Wright had to close the hospital, after 47 years of operation. The grounds and building, together with a fund, were contributed to the Leprosy Prevention Association. The 59 patients were to be sent to the Kyushu Sanitarium. As they were departing for the sanitarium, Miss Wright said good by to each of them, put shawls on the disabled patients, and bowed saying, "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! Take care of yourselves."

In April of the same year, just as Miss Wright was to leave for Australia, she received a comforting telegram from Her Imperial Majesty, the Empress Dowager. Though at the time it seemed that it would be impossible for her to return to Japan, she was able to do so in 1948. After her return, Miss Wright continued to look after the children of those whose parents had contracted Hansen's disease, and spent hours in prayer for the parients who had gone away. Two years later Miss Wright went to heaven in peace.

The work of Miss Ridell and Miss Wright's Old People's Home is currently carried on by the Tofu Association. It no longer has the feeling of the Kumamoto Hospital for the Resurrection of Hope, partly because the eucalyptus which inspired the patients and after which they named their published collection of poems, fell down one day and had to be removed. The chapel of Kourin Church was overridden by termites and had to be taken to pieces. A memorial chapel has been built, however, and contains some of the pieces taken from the original Kourin Church building. It also houses many articles left by these two brave women, which serve to remind visitors of their pioneering work.

The building which served as a research center for the hospital and later its offices and Miss Wright's apartment, was remodeled to become the Riddell & Wright Memorial Museum. It was contributed to the City of Kumamoto, which manages it and exhibits all of the articles left by these two medical missionaries. It is a place to research about the history of their work.

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