Orleans Woman Starts Humane Work in Mexico, ca. March 1921


Orleans Woman Starts Humane Work in Mexico

The children of Mexico have a staunch friend and ally in a New Orleans woman, Miss Alva C. Blaffer, niece of C. Ad Blaffer, a director of the Canal-Commercial Bank. Miss Blaffer, who is a graduate of the Sorbonne, has traveled widely and has been identified with both social and professional activities of New Orleans, has given up everything else to establish a branch of the American Humane Association for the prevention of cruelty to children and animals in the City of Mexico.

"My niece has always been interested in humane work," said Mr. Blaffer, "and while she was traveling in Mexico she was so much impressed by the poverty and misery among the lower classes and the need for both educational and medical relief work particularly among children that she wrote to the American Humane Association which has its headquarters in Albany, N.Y. They immediately suggested that she go to Mexico and open up headquarters there. At first there was a little resentment on the part of the Mexican people but this quickly wore away and she now has the [cooperation] of both the government and the prominent officials of Mexico. They are all immensely interested in the work and my niece thinks it is only a question of time before its scope is widened to embrace provinces all through Mexico. Unfortunately they have little money to proceed on and are hampered by the lack of facilities that the society boasts in the North.

My niece has a diploma from the Sorbonne qualifying her to teach French and she is an excellent linguist -- a facility that has aided her tremendously in her work. The language of Mexico is, of course, Spanish, and there is no doubt that ability to speak it fluently, has won her the sympathy of the children and those among whom she works."

Mexico as a Latin country has probably made less progress in its treatment of animals than many countries of its size. The rapid shifting of governments and the natural temperament of the people has also hampered the progressive attitude towards education for children. Such things as juvenile courts and child welfare stations were practically unknown before Miss Blaffer went into the field. Hygiene and medical precautions were generations behind those of Northern states. Miss Blaffer's first effort was to have the City of Mexico apportioned off into districts and committees appointed to take charge of the work in each district. Educational propaganda was distributed among both men and women and financial contributions solicited to carry on humane activities. Temporary homes for little destitute children are being arranged where they will receive trained care, wholesome food and a certain amount of education.

Dr. William O. Stillman of Albany N.Y., is the president of the American Humane Association and among the vice-presidents are: President Harding, Honorable William H. Taft, Mrs. Minnie Madden Fiske. The association was organized in 1877. Miss Blaffer is on the board of directors and returns to New Orleans from Mexico every six or eight months.