The Magic of Dr Korczak,not his medicine, made the "children well".The true anecdotes of the children" and about them are inexpressible and beyond words. A case in point is the experience with the mug and Zofia. He would stay 7 years at the hospital yearning for a solution surpassing aspirin to cure the poverty of the children now going back to the streets whence they came.What was the prescription he could offer to cure the world of the dirty and hungry children? "Keep your mouth shut if you are not helping".
Still, inveterate actor that he was, Korczak did not easily admit the harsh
reality of hospital life. When the daughter of a colleague exclaimed: "How
terrible it must be to wake up in a strange hospital with no mommy or daddy," he
replied: "Oh, we know how to cope with that. Every child has a pillow made of
chocolate and whipped cream. If she wakes up and feels unhappy, she breaks off a
piece, and feels much better."
The truth of the matter was that the
frightened child would wake and see the twinkling eyes of the doctor trying to
put her at ease. It was apparent to everyone at the hospital, from the director
to the lowliest orderly, that it was not so much the medicine as the magic of
Dr. Goldszmit´s way with children that made them well. When a girl named Zofia,
who was becoming weak from not eating, refused her mug of broth, he told her how
sad the mug was at being rejected. If she did not drink the broth, it would roll
right out of the hospital into the street and be run over by a tramcar. Zofia
clasped the mug, then drank the broth right down.
Henryk Goldszmit, the
doctor, would stay at the Children´ s Hospital for seven years, but Janusz
Korczak, the writer and future educator, was restless. The doctor saw a feverish
child through the dramatic crises of his illness, but the educator was aware
that when the child was released, he disappeared back into a dark, sunless world
that the doctor could neither enter nor alter. "When the devil will we stop
prescribing aspirin for poverty, exploitation, lawlessness, and crime?" he would
complain to his colleagues. But what could he prescribe to change his patients´
lives? it was the same frustration the five-year-old reformer had felt-how could
he remake the world so that there would be no more hungry or dirty children?
Complaining about injustice wasn´t enough. As a schoolboy he had once been
rebuked by a tram conductor whom he had criticized for cracking a whip on the
horses to make them pull the tramcars more quickly: "If you are so full of pity,
get down yourself and pull, young man. it will be nicer for the horses." He had
taken the message to heart: "Keep your mouth shut if you´re not helping. Don´t
criticize if you don´t know a better way. "
Thinking back to that tramcar
incident, he had to admit to himself that for all of his dissatisfaction about
social inequities, he had not yet found the means to offer a better way of life
to deprived children.