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Dr. Green, an American served the people of Northern Sri Lanka.

Updated on March 15, 2013
Dr. Samuel Fisk Green
Dr. Samuel Fisk Green

Dr. Samuel Fisk Green was born in Green Hills, Worcester, Massachusetts in 1822. To his father William E Green and mother Julia Plimpton, he was the 8th child of 11 children. After his schooling he was attracted to religion. In 1841 he went to New York and took employment Protestant Episcopal Board of Missions. During this period he got interested in medical profession and gave up his employment and joined as a student in medicine. He graduated in 1845. In 1846, he offered himself to serve in American Mission and joined a team of missionaries as a missionary physician to go to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

He reached Jaffna, the northern town of Ceylon in 1847. After a brief stay in a village called Thellipalai, he was transferred to another village named Manipay. He established the mission's first clinic there. At that time there were no western physicions in Jaffna area, and people preferred local medicine. However within a short period of time Dr. Green managed to attract many patients to him for treatment. In line with the policies of the mission to train natives for missionary work, Dr. Green decided to teach medicine to local students. The work done in the field of medical education may be the most valuable contribution of Dr. Green to Jaffna.

Dr. Green's First Hospital in Manipay, Jaffna.
Dr. Green's First Hospital in Manipay, Jaffna.

Initially, he instructed the students in English. However, he felt that for a native, to grasp the medical words in a new language would be difficult, and he took time to learn the local language Tamil. His next action was to find Tamil words for medical terms. Soon he prepared a dictionary of medical words. To help his students, he also translated several medical textbooks from English to Tamil. Even today we don't get many medical books written or translated in Tamil. When we consider this Dr. Green's effort is truly commendable.

During his stay in Jaffna, Cholera plagued the region several times and in many occasions it killed many thousands of people, including medical workers, within short period of time. Dr. Green was one of the first to volunteer to the nooks and corners of the area and treated patients. In 1855 he too took the disease and luckily got cured. He commanded high respect among native population and they regarded him as a demigod.


Dr. Green served in Jaffna for 20 years with a gap of 5 years. After his first 10-year period, he went back to America and spent five years there. He got married during this period and return back to Jaffna to serve another 10 years. After his second term he returned to America. He was interested in coming back to Jaffna, but unfortunately, the board of missions decided to cut expenditure on medical works, and Dr. Green was unable to return. After some time this policy was reversed, but it was too late. Dr. Green passed away on 28th of May 1884. He left his last will and he specifically mentioned there as follows:


"Should I ever have a gravestone, let it be plain and simple, and bear the following inscription: viz.,


1822 - 188-
Medical Evangelist to the Tamils.
Jesus my all"






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    • chamilj profile image

      chamilj 6 years ago from Sri Lanka

      A great man. Rmnathan thanks for the information.

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      P.Subramaniyam 7 years ago


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      Vasanthy Asokan 8 years ago

      I worked as a nurse at Green memorial Hospital from dec 1986 to 1990 August.I was forced to leave after the hospital was bombed by the Sri lankan forces in 1990.

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      A G Wicky Wignesan 8 years ago

      I was born in Manipay Green Hospital in 1953. Thank the lord for giving Doctors like Dr. Green to serve the people. Its amazing to read the contents.

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      chris Raj 8 years ago

      A true servent to the island of SL,and a blessing to the humanity. These type of individuals should be studied and honored in schools... not just civil rights leaders!

    • Rmnathan profile image

      Rmnathan 9 years ago from Sharjah

      VickeyK, Mark, Thanks for your comments.

    • Mark Knowles profile image

      Mark Knowles 9 years ago

      Incredibly informative. Thanks very much.

    • VickeyK profile image

      VickeyK 10 years ago

      I had never heard of this man--thank you!