Charles Emile Benjamins: 2. SEMARANG 1901-1911 - Page 2

Charles Emile’s activities to promote the establishment of a hospital for Semarang

Already early in his Semarang period he strongly felt the need for a modern hospital and was one of main promoters for the establishment of a hospital for Semarang. Unfortunately this hospital, the Juliana hospital, only materialized several years after his departure from Semarang. In 1913 Charles Emile wrote a short paper in support of the establishment of the hospital: “Het Juliana Ziekenhuis te Semarang published by van Rossen, Amsterdam.
After the hospital was established, Charles Emile regularly corresponded with the medical director of the new hospital from Holland, trained several of the medical staff in his clinic in Groningen and continued to support the hospital till he passed away in 1940.

Charles Emile’s interest in Chinese medicines: his Chinese patients

During his Semarang period Charles Emile, was very interested in Chinese matters, in particular in Chinese medicines. One of his Chinese friends, with whom he often discussed medical issues, was Mr Xiao Yao Chang, originally from Long Wen, Mei Xian, Gangzhou, China, the owner of the Chinese apothecary: Toko Obat Tiongkok or: Drugstore China of which drugstore photographs 035 to 038 are included in the photo collection.  

Charles Emile learnt to speak and read Chinese at such a level that he was able to read the local Chinese newspapers. The result of this was that most Chinese from Semarang and surroundings, who wished to consult a modern European doctor, became Charles Emile’s patients.

In this context there is another anecdote from grandmother:
After the Chinese patient was cured, it was the custom to show his gratitude by sending the doctor a large cake on a porcelain plate. Grandmother faithfully collected the porcelain plates and took these with her to Holland. When she passed away in 1976, we learnt that most of these plates were original Qing Dynasty porcelain and were worth a small fortune!

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