"And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; there
stood a man of Macedonia and prayed him, saying,
'Come over into Macedonia and help us.'
"And after he had seen the vision, immediately we
endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering
that the Lord had called us for to preach
the Gospel unto them."
ACTS 16: 9, 10.
ONE GOSPEL that the Macedonians have needed since the beginning of our generation, as possibly they did in Paul's time, has been the "Gospel of the Plow." This is the call that I was privileged to answer from 1928 to 1938. It is the call that will be heard again and in more insistent form after the present conflict is over; and this time, the prayer for help will come not only from Macedonia, but from many other scorched parts of the earth as well.[Previous] [Next]
The story that is told in these pages deals with that Macedonian call. It is a story of rural reconstruction. The writing originally was undertaken purely as a personal hobby in order to summarize for my own satisfaction ten years of educational pioneering that had been extremely interesting and enlightening. Before the narrative was completed responsibilities of a different nature resulted in putting aside this self-imposed task.
But it became obvious a few months ago that Macedonia would be calling again, and more desperately and prayerfully than ever before; and not only Macedonia but vast portions of the earth that previously had received little attention from the Western world. And when it becomes possible to answer these calls in an effective manner, the experience that was gained in working out a program of rural reconstruction for Greece after World War I should be available to everyone who may find need of such assistance in the present tragic situation. This is the conviction that led to the decision that this story should be completed without further delay regardless of other duties.
This publication is intended mainly as a reference for all those who are interested in the agricultural, educational, economic and social reconstruction of war torn, impoverished people. I hope that the plain facts pertaining to the chronological development of the Macedonian project will be sufficiently interesting to carry the reader to the end. No attempt has been made to do anything other than to present the simple narrative of the evolution of this four-fold program as it actually took place during a period of ten years. The story is divided into three parts—exploring the field, developing a program, integrating the work— in order to emphasize, as appropriately as possible, the procedure that is normally followed by Near East Foundation in all of its overseas projects.
As Overseas Director of Education for Near East Relief in its closing days, and for Near East Foundation during all the years of its expanding activities, I was sent up and down the Balkan and Mediterranean countries preaching the Gospel of rural reconstruction and developing programs in collaboration with the various governments concerned in order to carry out this mission. In the case of Macedonia, that project was made my personal responsibility from the first exploratory steps that were undertaken in 1928 to the fall of 1938 when the approaching World War II and the already partly integrated program brought an important cycle of the work to a natural conclusion. Programs of rehabilitation and reconstruction which occupied the full attention of Near East Foundation came about almost by accident, rather than by design, after many years of activities that were primarily relief, even though frequently of an educational nature. It is hoped that when the present fighting and wholesale destruction finally come to an end every welfare agency, whether private or governmental, will work purposefully and energetically for an early day when emergency relief will be ended and systematic programs of rehabilitation will be the main objective. That this happily is already the trend seems to be indicated by the name given to the new agency which was recently created by the Administration in Washington—The Office of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation.
One purpose of this book, which must not be overlooked, is to emphasize the slow, careful, and painstaking approach which must characterize all rural programs among people living under primitive conditions if sound progress is to be brought about; also the most effective system of securing permanent results is to help the people to help themselves. It is believed that the methods outlined in this publication have a wide application in all retarded sections of the globe. If this story should result in helping others more quickly and more effectively to bring stability and prosperity to these places, the purpose of this book will have been achieved.
It would be difficult to express proper appreciation to all those who helped to make possible this account of rural reconstruction in Macedonia. I can indicate only in a general way a few who assisted me greatly.
First of all should go my debt of gratitude to those many co-workers, both American and Greek, who helped to create the sound program on which this story is based. Without their loyalty, devotion, and hard, grinding work in the midst of mud, snow, bugs, and malaria, neither this account nor the ten-year development which it attempts to record would have been possible. Limited space will not permit my listing all of these good people.
My American associates will be kept gratefully in mind for the several distinct contributions which each one made to the developing program. Among the Greek members of our Macedonian staff there were many who rendered outstanding service, others who showed remarkable development of character and leadership, others who will be remembered on both counts.
Several of these people were keenly interested in having an account of this kind written and they were untiring in their efforts to supply me, before I left Greece, and even after, with details which long had been forgotten, but which had to be unearthed if I were to present a true picture of certain early phases of the work. After Greece is finally rid of the barbarians who now infest the country I fervently pray that all of these friends may be still alive to read this account of themselves.
I am indebted to members of the History departments of Salonica University and Anatolia College who assisted in providing important material on the historical background of Macedonia; to Professor Eleutherios Theocharides of The American Farm School for information on Orthodox Church history.
Then there is my friend, Laird Archer, Foreign Director of Near East Foundation, whose wise counsel and constant support contributed to the development of the Macedonian program, and especially its integration into the educational and agricultural framework of the Greek Government. There is Frank W. Ober, my 84-year-young friend, who at seventy-five tramped through the hot valleys and the snowy mountains of Greece in order to become acquainted, first-hand, with a worthy piece of work that he was selling to his American friends.
Then there are the executive officers and the Board of Directors of Near East Foundation who provided the financial means with which we worked, the encouragement to keep us going, and the confidence which permitted us to proceed slowly and cautiously when a little more speed might have seemed to many to be just as effective.
Finally, there are the many thousands of American contributors whose individual donations added up to a total which made this and similar projects possible. We hope, after reading this account, they feel more than ever that they have made sound investments in rural improvement and world brotherhood.
To all of these, and many others, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks.
H. B. Allen