A Neat Case of Budding
THE EXPERIENCED NURSERYMAN knows full well that sometimes for quick, efficient results, budding is the best method of grafting to use. This in no wise detracts from the value of other methods. But it is one good way to change or improve the fruit of a tree, vine or bush and it is particularly satisfactory under certain conditions.
In line with this quick method of grafting was the neat piece of integration which was brought about in the case of our sanitation program. Although this department was the last of the four "essentials" to be developed in rounding out the Macedonian program it was actually the first to be officially tied in with the government service. This important step was achieved with such swiftness and with so little advance notice that it came as a complete surprise even to those of us who had a definite part in the arrangements. Within the space of a few short weeks we appeared to have accomplished more, in the realm of integration, for this phase of our work than we had after several years of effort in the vitally important field of agricultural education.
One day late in November 1936, when I was on a trip to Bulgaria, our office in Salonica was surprised by an unannounced visit from the Deputy Minister of Hygiene, Dr. Gerasimos Alivizatos. The Minister was accompanied by our good friend Dr. Pathiotis, Director of Hygiene for the province of Macedonia. Fortunately Koskinides was in town that day, and at the office, when the Minister arrived. After the usual exchange of greetings, Turkish coffees were ordered and the group settled down to a lengthy conversation.
The Minister explained that he had followed our sanitation activities through his Macedonian representative, Dr. Pathiotis; through our own written reports transmitted to him by the Near East Foundation office in Athens; and from the many favorable comments he had heard in various quarters. He asked Koskinides to tell him more about some of his major projects and a few of his many minor activities. As can well be imagined Koskinides complied with his usual enthusiasm. He also went on to explain the small size of his own budget and to emphasize how much the little villages themselves were investing in better sanitation. That very year it would amount to around drs. 120,000 not counting the hundreds of individual expenditures which in the aggregate amounted to a great deal more.
His Excellency expressed amazement that we were able to accomplish so much with so little. He stated that this was a feature of our program which had always interested his Ministry very much. It was his opinion, he said, that if this policy could be applied throughout the country the cooperation of the whole population could be enlisted and health would be vastly improved without depending always on huge appropriations from the State.
A month or so later while in Athens I took occasion to return the call of Minister Alivizatos. I expressed my regret over being absent at the time of his visit to Salonica and indicated our appreciation of his personal interest in our sanitation activities. Dr. Alivizatos emphasized again his approval of our methods and the fine results we were so obviously securing. The Minister then proceeded to explain to us the reasons for his special interest in our program.
He stated that with the generous assistance of the Rockefeller Foundation, they had been turning out from the School of Hygiene in Athens scores of young men well trained in practical methods of sanitation. Another group of twenty-two were to receive their diplomas within the next few weeks. This, by the way, was the same training course from which Koskinides had been graduated some four or five years before.
The Minister went on to explain that in spite of the fact the rural sections were urgently in need of better sanitation, these graduates were all too rapidly piling up in the larger cities and towns. Furthermore, when they did go out, they frequently seemed to be at a loss as to how to proceed. They failed to apply the useful knowledge they had gained. For some reason, they lacked the initiative to put over the kind of program that had given Near East Foundation in Macedonia such a reputation for achievements in sanitation. The Minister concluded by asking if it would be agreeable to us to accept some of these men for the purpose of giving them apprentice training in rural sanitation directly under the supervision of Mr. Koskinides.
We thanked the Minister for the kind things he had said about our work and replied to his question by stating that we would be glad to give careful consideration to such an opportunity for additional service to the country; that we would discuss the matter further with His Excellency as soon as we could develop a feasible plan. The truth of the matter is that we were stalling for time; we wanted at least a short period in which to think the whole matter through. For this reason, we were rather more vague than we should have been in our reply to the Minister.
The fact is that calls for assistance in sanitation problems had become more insistent; offers of all kinds of village cooperation had grown so numerous that Koskinides' time and energy seemed to have about reached the saturation point. The home welfare girls were all active under his supervision and were making an excellent contribution to this important phase of village life. The agricultural men were adding their bit. The Future Farmers had undertaken all kinds of special projects that were within their abilities to perform. Village school teachers were helping. To attempt anything more might mean that the whole system would break down.
We had thought recently of approaching the Minister to provide an assistant for Koskinides; but we had hesitated to push this matter as our budget was too limited to cover the additional transportation costs that this would involve, although we would try to make sure that such a worker received his salary from the government. There was also the fact that additional projects required additional expenditures on our part even though most of the costs were borne by the people concerned.
We had given serious thought to the idea of requesting civil service for Koskinides, in line with our usual policy of transferring trained workers, and especially supervisors, to the government. But we had already spent years of effort in trying to achieve this status for our agricultural men and we had not yet succeeded in gaining our point. Just at this time the problem looked rather hopeful of solution, but we felt it would he much the better part of wisdom to hold in abeyance the question of civil service for Koskinides, or any other additional person for that matter, until we had made sure of this one proposition on which we had been working so long.
These are some of the reasons which made us rather hesitant in taking on additional responsibilities at that time. They represent also a few of the hopes and thoughts which we wanted to marshal in our minds before committing ourselves to the Minister.
Within a few days, however, and before we had had time to give proper attention to the matter, a letter was received from Minister Alivizatos indicating that he considered the question more or less settled, that as soon as possible he would like to assign graduate sanitation inspectors to work under our supervisor, and that in regard to the item of civil service for our man (which had been mentioned to His Excellency only casually, and somewhat fearfully) this question would be settled in due time by appointing Mr. Koskinides a government employee.
To say that we were surprised at the speed and aggressiveness of the man is to state our reaction mildly. We were in the habit of spending months and sometimes years in maneuvering ourselves into positions of closer relationship with government departments. This was only natural, since it is rather unusual for organizations to work in the manner in which we did; and, in spite of our years in the country, individuals were sometimes skeptical or fearful of undue competition from a foreign organization. This time, however, it appeared to be Near East Foundation that was hedging.
We wrote at once to the Minister stating that we appreciated deeply his desire to collaborate closely with us, that this was exactly what we desired and that we would immediately draw up a definite memorandum of agreement. This step was always essential as one means of safe-guarding our program in the event of later changes in the cabinet. We concluded our communication by stating that we would give immediate attention to this matter and that early in February, which was only a few weeks off, I would be in Athens to discuss the proposition further and bring the whole question to a final conclusion.
Without loss of time, we drew up a systematic program of post-graduate training for sanitation inspectors. We decided we could handle three men at a time and that five months of intensive training under the personal supervision of Koskinides should give these men just the experience they needed. Once we got under way, one group would be taken through the late winter, spring, and early summer months. The other group would be enrolled for the late summer and fall. In this manner each individual would be able to devote part of his time to actual practice in malaria control and, during the same five-month period, spend some time on problems of general sanitation.
An important problem that faced us, as an organization, was the matter of financing the increased number of sanitation projects that would be undertaken as a direct result of having three additional workers devoting full time to this program. Our small sanitation budget had no padding through which we might absorb unforeseen items of this kind; and the organization as a whole did not have unlimited funds that could be re-allocated at a moment's notice. But this was too important an opportunity to let slip even though the several difficulties involved included that of financing additional activities. After all the extra money required was not large, certainly not more than a few hundred dollars, and so we simply sat down with paper and pencil and figured out a way to readjust our budget to take care of this unforeseen project.
We reviewed very carefully the items we should include in our memorandum to the Minister. We would expect the Ministry to cover the travel of their men and to provide a per diem allowance to meet living expenses in the field. We would also include, as one of the conditions to be listed in our memorandum of agreement, that Koskinides must be given full civil service status and then returned to us as a government employee to direct this training program. We would emphasize the fact that Koskinides would eventually need an assistant if this work were to receive proper direction. We should also outline in detail the program of training we had finally worked out. All these points and several others were included in a formal letter to His Excellency the Minister.
Very shortly thereafter I stopped over in Athens on my way to Beirut. During my brief stay in Athens we called on Minister Alivizatos. Our conference was short. The Minister stated that he had read the memorandum. He liked the program of practical training we had drawn up, and he approved heartily of all the conditions we had named. He concluded by saying he would see to it that these items, as far as the government's side of the cooperation was concerned, were fully met. The Minister seemed to take the attitude that the matter was all settled and expressed the hope that the work would get under way very shortly.
The same day I called on one of my American friends who was engaged in important work for the Greek government. I explained the status of our negotiations relative to the sanitation program and my friend congratulated us on the progress we seemed to be making. However, he expressed the fear that our requirement of civil service for our supervisor might prove to be a serious stumbling block. He had been unable to secure this for some of his men who were virtually government employees already, but without civil service. He was exceedingly anxious to arrange this for these men in order to protect the long careful training he had provided.
That evening I boarded my ship for Beirut and two days later arrived at this interesting Mediterranean port. Upon disembarking, I found a cable from the Athens office stating that the Minister of Hygiene had submitted Communication No. 27,555 approving our post-graduate training program for sanitation inspectors, agreeing to all of the conditions we had named and expressing the hope that the program would get under way at the earliest possible moment.
By the time I returned to Greece a few weeks later, our Macedonian sanitation program was a government project. The postgraduate training was in full swing and Apostolis Koskinides was an employee of the Ministry of Hygiene assigned to Near East Foundation to direct this work. Furthermore, Koskinides was receiving a salary from the Ministry as a sanitation inspector and this released funds which we were able to apply toward the enlarged program of activities. And so it happened that even the problem of financing our share of this work was not nearly as difficult as we had feared it might be.
It was difficult for us to realize that we had achieved such an official relationship in so short a time. The arrangement represented a goal such as we had been attempting to reach for the Agricultural division of our work for several years, but as yet without much success.
Under the new arrangement the sanitation program continued to flourish. Three excellent young graduates of the Athens course reported for post-graduate training early in March. By the end of July their five months of practice was completed. A new group reported at once and they were out by the end of December. After that, February to June and August to December inclusive were the two periods utilized each year for this special activity. The months of January and July were kept free of this particular responsibility in order to devote these two brief interims of the year to matters of a purely organizational nature.
As might be expected, Koskinides took his new responsibilities seriously. He followed a systematic program of training with these men. Primarily, of course, they learned to do by doing. Each man was placed in turn in complete charge of the Makriyalos malaria control project for a definite period. Then, during the off-season for mosquitoes, each one was given a group of three villages which he covered according to a definite schedule very much as our itinerant agricultural workers made their rounds.
The work in the field was supplemented by frequent seminars in which Koskinides discussed with the men the philosophy of the whole program of rural sanitation. He explored carefully the psychology of the peasant, which he knew so well. He taught his men the art of helping the peasants to help themselves. At the end of each five months' period Koskinides gave his trainees examinations and carefully graded their papers.
As Koskinides developed his organization and worked out methods of delegating authority, he found that he had the equivalent of three good assistants. The results they achieved when added to the sanitation accomplishments of our other workers were tremendous. Whole villages attained practically one hundred per cent in private homes with latrines, public schools with sanitary toilets, bedrooms screened, standing water removed, clean-up campaigns promoted, public meetings attended for the education of the adult population in matters of elemental sanitation.
As these men completed their training with us an attempt was made by the Ministry to have them assigned to villages not too far distant from our center of activities. This enabled Koskinides to give these inspectors some additional assistance as they inaugurated their own rural programs. Having gained first-hand experience under expert guidance in promoting better sanitation on a systematic basis, these young men now achieved notable results from the very beginning of their work. As a consequence, an already finely conceived program of rural sanitation was now injected with a vitality which really made it function.
One result of this experiment of post-graduate training was to point up the Ministry's undergraduate course of instruction. With the National School of Hygiene providing the funds, Koskinides was requested to organize an intensive program of sanitation in ten villages, with one good inspector for each village. This area was then used as a laboratory for the men who were undergoing their primary training in Athens. As a result of this plan, the quality of the instruction was improved and the graduates came to Koskinides for their final period well qualified to absorb what he had to give.
As a further step in the direction of complete integration the Makriyalos project was designated by the Health offices in Salonica as the Macedonian Training Center in Malaria Control. Under this arrangement the program was financed in large part out of the national budget. The village itself continued to participate in the cost of this work to the extent of its ability and this item was regularly included as a recognized part of the annual budget of Makriyalos. But the Near East Foundation share was not taken over by our friend Dr. Pathiotis as a part of his responsibility to all of Macedonia.
Somewhat later the Governor of Thrace sent for Mr. Koskinides to discuss with him a program of better sanitation for that northern province of Greece. As a result of this conference, arrangements were made to send in inspectors from Thrace who were also graduates of the Athens school to follow the same intensive program of apprenticeship training as had been provided for the Macedonian workers.
The sanitation end of the four-fold Macedonian program seemed to be reaching its goal. Its original explorations had brought to light an important field of health and sanitation; impressive demonstration had been made; finally the methods developed had been definitely incorporated into the health and welfare programs of Greece. It was time for our man Koskinides to be thinking of setting his course for some new point on the distant horizon.
When the Germans swept into Macedonia in the spring of 1941 Apostolis Koskinides moved out just a few jumps ahead. Sometime before this he had sent on his wife to find a somewhat safer haven with her parents in Athens. Now the time had come when he must join her. The Nazi hordes were only a few miles out and nothing was to be gained by remaining longer at his post.
Koskinides went to the docks but every boat was filled to the gunwales. Perhaps the pressure would ease a bit a few hours later, he thought. So he proceeded to a distant part of the city for one last farewell to his aging mother who considered herself too old to attempt to leave her little home and, as she said, "of no particular value to the Germans anyway."
By the time Koskinides got back to the wharf the place was in a turmoil. While he was debating what he should do he was suddenly surrounded by the milling crowd. Before he knew exactly what had happened he was swept into a little fishing boat and knocked down into the hatch as the straining vessel hurriedly pushed off to save itself from certain sinking. With hundreds of other wretched humans squeezed into this little tub that was designed to hold not more than a few dozen he spent five fearsome days getting to Athens. They were storm tossed, bombed on the way and finally put ashore to make the last few miles across country on foot as best they could.
Locating his wife and quickly getting reorganized under the direction of the Near East Foundation office in Athens, Koskinides was soon conducting an important program of sanitation for the thousands of refugees, civilians and retreating soldiers alike, who were then crowding in on that part of the country.
All too soon the Germans overran all of Greece; there was no other place on Hellenic soil left to flee. Even the islands of the Aegean were mostly swallowed up. So Apostolis Koskinides returned once more to Macedonia to do what he could to ease the load of his suffering people now completely under the crushing heel of the Nazi aggressor.
The cycle was complete. The Germans had succeeded thoroughly in wiping out all the progress that had been so painfully achieved during the previous twenty years. Once again, through no fault of their own, the Macedonians, and in fact all the Greeks, were face to face with starvation and disease. Eventually a new day will dawn, another program of rehabilitation will be attempted. When that hour arrives we trust that Apostolis Koskinides may still be on hand to help lead the way.
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