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The 1940s


President 1940


During the years of the Second World War the EAWL found more and more work to do. Sewing for the Red Cross and the Army (1,000 pairs of socks and 500 shirts urgently needed in 1940), comforts and later hospitality for the troops, and assistance for victims of the blitz in England (Bombed Babies) all appear in annual Reports. Lady Delamere was the first woman Mayor of Nairobi.


President 1941


Lady Baden Powell found many up-country Branches of the EAWL in difficulties, Petrol rationing and the fact that many women were running farms while their husbands were at the War made voluntary work a burden. She toured all the Branches in the country during her term of office, and brought them inspiration and courage to carry on.


She returned to England at the end of 1942, where she formed the England Branch of the EAWL, of former Kenya residents. This branch has been a constant supporter of the League, and worked for the good of all ex-Kenyans up to the present day. In 1976 it became an autonomous society registered in England, the EAWL (U.K.), the League having given them permission to retain the name 'EAWL'


During her world tours as Chief Guide, Lady Baden Powell often revisited Kenya and the League.


President 1942


When Colonel Grogan applied to Gertrude's father for permission to marry her, before World War I, he was told to come back when he had done something to show he was worthy of her. What he did was to walk from the Cape to Cairo, and so earn his bride! Mrs. Grogan had been an officer of the League since 1937. She became President in 1942, but died tragically after six months in office.


Lady (then Mrs. F. O'B.) Wilson stepped in in 1943 to take up the work until 1945. During her Presidency, a memorandum for post-war reconstruction was put up to Government.


The Post-war era was a time for building. Hospitals and schools were put up, and the EAWL found itself more than ever involved in supporting these projects.

Gertrude’s Garden Children's Hospital


The proposal for a memorial to Mrs. Grogan was put forward in 1945, when money was first collected towards it. Colonel Ewart Grogan donated his house and grounds in Muthaiga. His first idea was that it should be used as an orphanage for children whose parents had been killed in the War, but happily there was no demand for this, so the decision that Gertrude's Garden should be a Children’s Hospital was made. Funds were raised by many other organizations, but the League's contribution was to pay for equipping the hospital, and Shs. 200,00/- was raised in 1946, every branch contributing generously. Gertrude's Garden was opened in 1948, Later a further Shs. 240,000/- was raised for extensions. The EAWL has always had a Trustee on the Board and a representative on the management committee, and continues to support the hospital in every way. Lady Wilson was the League Trustee until her death in 1975, since when Mrs. Jean Anderson, MBE, has been the League's Trustee.

District Hospitals


Another hospital, which owes its existence almost entirely to the EAWL, is the Government Hospital at Molo, for which the Branch pressed, and for which it raised Shs. 28,000/- from 1942 until it was opened in 1947. The Mount Kenya Hospital was first planned in 1946, and the Nyeri Branch raised Shs. 60,000/- for it. Londiani Hospital was built through the enthusiasm of the local farmers and their wives in the EAWL


President 1946


Lady Eleanor Cole (Left), though elected to the Presidency of the League in 1944, was not able to get a passage from England until 1946, when she took up office. Already well known for her work with the ACWW, and in representing the interests of the women of Kenya on many Government committees and enquiries in London, she was a most suitable person to put forward the EAWL's point of view to the Colonial Secretary when he visited Kenya.


Memorandum to Mr. Creech Jones, Colonial Secretary, from the EAWL


A summary of the main points:

1. The Soil. Unless fertility can be maintained in the soil all welfare work is useless, as the people will starve.

2. A Children's Act for Kenya.

3. A better site for the only mental hospital (Mathari)

4. Better accommodation in hospitals for Asian and African women and children.

5. More country dispensaries.

6. Better prison accommodation for Africans and especially for the criminally insane.

7. Better and more education for African women.

This memorandum, presented to Mr. Creech Jones by Lady Eleanor Cole in person, is included as it epitomizes so much of the work that the EAWL had been doing for the welfare of other races in this country for the past thirty years.


Child Welfare Legislation


The League had a representative on a Government Committee first formed in 1934 to draw up recommendations for a Children's Act. This committee beat even the elephant, being in "gestation" for nearly 20 years, attended by EAWL members. Mrs. Sheelagh Silvester, Mrs. Charles Taylor and Mrs. Jean Anderson throughout the period.


Miss Miriam Janisch (Right), a member of the EAWL joined the Education Department in 1943. In 1947, as Assistant Director of Education, she spoke at the First Conference on the Education of Women and Girls, also attended by League members. She was a great supporter of the EAWL’s efforts towards better education of girls in Kenya during her ten years in Government office.


St. Nicholas School for Mentally Challenged Children

The EAWL called the first meeting to discuss the urgent need for such a school under the chairmanship of Lady Eleanor Cole. The school was opened in 1950 by Lady Eleanor. It is now known as the Jacaranda School. The League has been represented on its board ever since. and has contributed generously towards the school funds.

Nursery Schools

Schools were being built all over the country. The League played its part, opening in 1949 the first of many nursery schools to be run by the branches in Mrs. Michael Wood's home in Muthaiga. The school building was completed in 1953. Other branches who built schools were Nakuru, Nyeri and Kericho.


President 1948-1950


Mrs. Silvester (Left) had been a Vice President, and also the League's representative on the Government Child Legislation Committee since 1942. After her term as President she continued on this committee until the legislation for the Care and Protection and Prevention of Cruelty to Children became law. From 1951 to 1958 she was the League's executive officer.


Helping Hand Bureau

During Mrs. Silvester's presidency the EAWL employment Bureau was re-opened as the "Helping Hand" Bureau. The Kenya Regiment was at last presented with the colours that the League had been trying to obtain since 1939, and Shs. 200,000/- was raised for the Campaign against Polio. Gertrude's Garden Children's Hospital was opened.

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