Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Nobel prize winning scientist and humanitarian, celebrated his 85th birthday Jan.14 at?
Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Nobel prize winning scientist and humanitarian, celebrated his 85th birthday Jan.14 at the hospital he built in 1913 at Lambarene, in the heart of equatorial Africa.
The Alsatian born doctor - also an internationally famous organist - returned to Lambarene after visiting his home village of Gunsbach, Alsace, and several European countries.
During his recent three-month European tour, Dr. Schweitzer - holder of the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize - received yet more recognition of his philanthropic work among sick Africans. In Copenhagen Sept.29, 1959 he was awarded the Sonning Prize--worth GBP5,000. In Brussels Nov.18 became the first recipient of the Joseph Lemaire Prize.
Dedication and sacrifice have been the key words of Dr. Schweitzer's 47-year old battle against disease. Son of a Pastor, Doctor of Philosophy and Licentiate of Theology at the age of 25, his early intentions were clearly to become a Minister of the Church, but after listening to an appeal by the Paris Missionary Society for doctors to work in Africa, he began a seven year course of medical study.
Qualifying as a Doctor of Medicine in 1913, he and his wife Helene - whom he married in 1912 - were sent by the Society to a deserted mission station at Lambarene on the banks of the Ogowe River, fifty miles form the Equator. There, together at the edge of the dank, disease ridden African jungle they built a primitive hut-hospital.
They began by concentrating on the treatment of Leprosy, then the scourge of jungle inhabitants. When news of the "White Witch Doctor's Magic" spread through the jungle, disease Africans and their families trekked thousands of miles to receive treatment. Already banished by their tribes, families of the diseased built huts for themselves around the hospital, thus forming the basis of Lambarene as it is known today.
When World War One broke out in 1914, Dr. Schweitzer was interned by the French authorities for a while, but was released and allowed to continue his work.
As his fame spread, so the number of patients increased. The hospital soon became a haven for Africans suffering from all types of diseases and injury. To help finance much needed extensions and equipment, Dr. Schweitzer wrote books on philosophy, and toured Europe giving organ recitals and lectures on composer Johann Sebastian Bach, upon whose life and work he was a world acclaimed expert.
International recognition was a long time coming, but with it came offers of financial and physical assistance. Both were eagerly accepted by the overworked doctor and his wife. Latter years brought triumph and tragedy to Dr. Schweitzer. Nations showered him with awards, but his wife died in 1956.
Lambarene today - filmed by VISNEWS staff cameraman Joergen Tamm - is a thriving community. Fourteen European assistants, including three doctors, nurses and voluntary helpers, work with the man whose vision, skill and dedication make Lambarene a centre of hope....Dr. Albert Schweitzer.