Doctor Susie Rijnhart
Susie Rijnhart was born in Western Ontario in 1868, and was educated in medicine. She was a Christian from when she was 16, but after she met her husband Petre Rijnhart and got married to him in 1894, they set off for Tibet. Her journey in Tibet started from Kumbum, “in the province of Amdo, on the extreme northwestern Chino-Tibetan frontier.” (Rijnhart, 9) In Kumbum, she started to provide medication to the lamas and the people who were living there. Afterwards, she and her husband went to Gansu province (Amdo in Tibetan). Even though Mr. Rijnhart left her in Amdo and left for Lusar alone to prepare their house, Mrs. Rijnhart followed him and stayed there. She explains, “being the trading station of the Kumbum lamasery, Lusar is visited by merchants from China, Mongolia and various parts of Tibet.” (Rijnhart, 29) This is where she met a diversity of peoples and experienced various cultures.
During these times, she and her husband still tried to work as missionaries and tried to disseminate Christian belief, as well as providing western medical skills. Especially in 1895, when Mohammedan rebellion had broken out, which later was subdued by Chinese, she saved many lives with her medical skills. Afterwards, she took a journey to Kokonor and lived with the nomads, teaching them the gospels. Moreover, she also wanted to visit Lhasa, the heart of the Tibet and “the home of the Dalai Lama.” (Rijnhart, 205)
During the four years that she and her husband stayed in Tibet, she gave a birth to a little boy, who did not survive to return Canada, like his father Mr. Rijnhart. The couple lost the baby, Charlie after having crossing the Kunlun Mountains and when they got near the Dangla Mountains. Aew days later, their group was attacked, and Mr. Rijnhart went to find some help for their situation, but never came back; he was apparently murdered by Tibetans. After she took in her family’s doom, she came to Chinese border, and went back to America in 1899.
Dr. Susie C. Rijnhart, With the Tibetans in Tent and Temple. (New York, 1901)
See also her biography on Christian missionaries to China and Tibet.