Albert Schweitzer

by Stephanie from New York

In his time, Albert Schweitzer once said, "Every patient carries her or his own doctor inside." Albert Schweitzer, the great humanitarian, is known around the world for his skill. When he was in his twenties, he had an excellent career, was a respected teacher, preacher and an accomplished musician. Yet he practically threw it all away to train to become a doctor and sailed away to Lambarene, Africa. Doctors were needed badly there. As soon as he arrived, the next day, Africans had already started gathering by the beat of drums and messengers. He was dismayed because there were so many Africans already and he only had the medicine and drugs that were in his few packing cases. The 70 packing cases that he had shipped from Europe had still not arrived. He found relief, yet he knew not to rely on it for the fact that some family members would accompany a sick or wounded patient. They would care for the family member until dismissed from the hospitable. He saved many lives of the Africans who lived in Lambarene. The Africans knew Albert as the "Witch Doctor." Others claimed after a surgery that he could "stitch up their bellies with a string." Albert Schweitzer is the world's well-known, great humanitarian.

Albert Schweitzer was born in Gunsbach, in the province of Alsace. Alsace lay right between France and Germany. His family consisted of his three sisters, himself and his mother and father. Albert's Father started teaching him piano at five years old. A problem, you can say, is that every living creature he saw that got hurt pained him. When Albert was ten years old, he left his school in Gunsbach to go live with his Great-Aunt Sophie and Great-Uncle Louis. His father sent him to Mulhausen for a better school since at Gunsbach there was no gymnasium or secondary school (middle school). Albert knew that he should be grateful, but homesickness was quite a powerful feeling for him. Since his Great Aunt and Uncle were childless, they had no tolerance for any "boyish feeling" or homesickness. At his school, he tended to daydream quite often. His grades were low. While he was living with his Great Aunt and Uncle, he took piano lessons. His piano teacher, Herr Munch, taught him weekly about piano and gave him pieces of music to try. Albert's Great Aunt and Uncle thought music needed no feeling and the problem was that Herr Munch thought music was nothing without feeling. One day Herr lost his cool when another beautiful piece that Albert had been practicing came out with absolutely no feeling. He shouted at Albert that he didn't deserve such beautiful music because he had no feeling and destroyed the music. Albert never forgot that day. Herr Munch gave Albert a piece called "A Song Without Words." That whole week Albert practiced hard, working with everything he could spare. At his next lesson, Albert played his piece for Herr Munch. When he was finished, Albert was afraid to look up at Herr Munch. Herr Munch inside felt satisfied and handed Albert one of the most beautiful pieces. Albert knew he had succeeded and practiced hard again for his lessons. Interestingly enough, Albert's grades got better and better. Early life always starts everyone's life.

Even though Albert Schweitzer was a quite successful man, he still had many, many challenges and obstacles. When Albert signed up for agreeing to become a doctor he never thought about his few years of training he would have to take for becoming a doctor. He toiled hard and long. At last, he finished his training. Yet he didn't realize that there would be plenty more difficulties ready for him when he arrived in Africa. The Africans greeted him warmly. He and his wife, Helene, went away to the "house" and then they settled their belongings there and ran off to the old chicken house. They reached the chicken house and there it stood before them. It looked like it had been abandoned for quite a while. The filthy shack had holes in the roof and chickenplop all over the floor. How was he supposed to make a hospitable out of this horrible place? The other problem was, what could he do with his food, since there was no refrigeration and bugs everywhere he went practically? The hardest part of all was probably that he could not speak their dialect, since there was no official language among the Africans, and they mostly depended on drums and other musical instruments-let alone understand it! He had hired a translator, but he had not arrived yet and Africans were already coming like a continuous flow of water. There was no way he could understand what they were saying as they tried to tell him what had happened and what was wrong. Albert was steadily getting more and more frustrated each day, a man came back the next day asking for more salve since he had put it all on at once, another had no idea what was wrong, but just kept on moaning. There was also another problem, there was a short list of rules for the Africans to know, but trying to tell them was like trying to get a wild shark to kiss you. There was Joseph though, he solved being able to talk to the Africans. That is only the beginning of Albert Schweitzer's problems and obstacles.

As we know every hero has at least one contribution. One of the contributions that most amazed almost everybody was, what man would give up one of the best careers to become a doctor? If someone ever would ask you that, you could say Albert Schweitzer, and chances are they'll ask you: who's he? Other things he did was in Africa he had a leprosy village and two hospitals built. He had his ways and through both of the World Wars his life span went. Each World War he was forced to go back to Germany. But when the World War ended, he again returned to his work in Africa. One thing that was totally definite was that he saved many, many African lives. Even if he didn't manage to save every single one, he still is known around the world.

As you might have guessed every hero, one way or another, has received awards and recognitions. One of the first awards that he received was an honorary degree. The U.S.A. greeted with every news reporter possible when he arrived. He made his speech and then answered many questions. When he finished, there was an applause that was longer and louder than he had ever known. He said it was deafening. In 1952, he was asked to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He actually received it in 1954, two years later. Being recognized by the world, well, there's no gold or silver worth that. Everybody asked if he did this to become world famous and his answer was, "No. I only did this to try to accomplish God's will." Therefore the whole world recognizes his as a hero for the Africans.

There are usually at least three easy character traits for people to spot out on heroes. Mine for example is (1) Perseverance, (2) Determined, and (3) Successful. His determination started when he was just a child when he had a scuffle with his friends. He was determined to win it and he won. That, I think, is a good omen for his near and far future. Again, he showed determination in trying to show Herr Munch that he could put feeling into his music. In his young years he showed perseverance in practicing his piano over and over again, and like I said, quite often his Great Aunt Sophie had to remind him practice time was over. He didn't just show perseverance and determination in his childhood. He also showed those two traits in his adulthood. In his adulthood he showed perseverance by getting the hospitable up and running after a war, by getting that old chicken house working as an okay substitute until his hospitable was built and received permission to build both hospitals. Determination for his later years is originally determined to become a doctor and determined to write the few books he had been planning to write. Trait three is the most important. He was successful by saving birds from getting killed, got his music for Herr Munch to have feeling, he finished-at last! -his training to become a doctor, in 1913 he got all the preparations done for sailing away to Africa and he finally got to Africa. Also when he arrived he was successful at accomplishing finding an interpreter and managing to get his two hospitals and the leprosy village built. In my opinion, the most important thing that he was successful at was doing God's will.

Related Links

Albert Schweitzer - Association Internationale Schweitzer Lambarene