My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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SANTIAGO, Chile , Monday—In contrast to the gray day on my arrival here on Saturday this morning dawned clear and beautiful, with the sun streaming into my window.

At 10 o'clock the United States representative of our Point 4 program here, Dr. Gandy, arrived to take me to the Quinta Normal Health Center. This center was built through Chilean and American cooperation, and a tablet simply states this fact without a lot of excess wordage, which is one of the nice things about it. This particular building was completed during my husband's administration, so it bears his name and that of the President of Chile at that time.

At the Trudeau Hospital, which is for tubercular patients, the tablet bears the name of President Harry S. Truman and the President of Chile at the time the building was completed.

I think perhaps we have been a little negligent in not understanding how valuable certain words or appellations can be in some countries. These buildings were started when the good-neighbor policy was a phrase on everybody's lips, and those words became a symbol of that policy. Nelson Rockefeller, who was chairman of the Inter-American Development Commission, at that time was carrying out what has now become the Point 4 program. However, under Point 4, we are continuing many of the projects started during the past few years and are expanding into new ones that will in the long run be of greater assistance to the Chilean economy.

Still, the words "Point 4" fail to mean as much to the people because they do not have attached to them: "good-neighbor policy." This may seem to be a trifling thing, but I think if something can be done to bring the two phrases together it might be a very helpful gesture.

In this city of Santiago there resides within the limits about one-third of the whole population of Chile. Housing is very much needed, and the extension of modern sanitation is one of the most urgent problems. In the poorer districts about a third of the houses have no running water, and the sewage system is still primitive in certain areas.

At the health center, however, there are modern conveniences and accommodations for the care of mothers and children. Records are kept of the whole family and its condition, and the center is doing much more in addition to its medical program. For instance, I was showed rows upon rows of washtubs equipped with running hot water, where the women of the district can come and do their wash, paying only a nominal sum for the hot water. There also are public showers, which are widely used.

Those in authority are now trying to educate the people to feed their children milk of which previously they've had very little. This move has been made in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund. A milk-processing plant has been erected and this unit is now selling powered milk at cost. This has many ramifications, however, and more milk must be produced. In this connection, though, a movement is in progress to increase the dairy herds of Chile.

Here, also, dried fish is sold at cost. Fish is abundant and cheap and though the populace has not been accustomed to using it a great deal the people are gradually going over it. The diet generally seems to have been bread and potatoes, with very little meat because it has been too expensive.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Santiago (Chile) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 4, 1952

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.