WM Winter 07: From Our Readers
February 26, 2007
"A People Held Hostage"
I read with interest "A People Held Hostage," (WM Spring 2006) by Michael Stayton ’68 of the World Food Program (WFP) on the situation in northern Uganda. This past summer, I lived there for five weeks in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps under camp conditions with the exception of bringing clean water to drink.
The WFP does excellent work in difficult conditions—conditions which Mr. Stayton described, for the most part, accurately.
I would disagree, however, with his statement on Pabbo IDP: "The one thing the people in Pabbo have going for them is that they are not hungry."
I lived for two-and-a-half weeks at Pabbo, on the ground and with the people. Most of the people I met subsist on one meal a day. They eat it late in the day so that they can go to sleep at night. Many children who are not of school age and so do not get a school meal have the distended bellies of malnutrition. Adults regularly lifted their shirts to show me their shriveled stomachs. One man that I met while going on rounds with a health care nun was literally starving because he was paralyzed and had no one to bring him the WFP food (we fed and bathed him several times while I was at Pabbo).
The WFP convoy came to one camp I lived in while I was there. There was no advance announcement. United Nations Land Cruisers drove down the main road announcing that the food had arrived. People had to stop whatever they were doing to get the food. People mourning at a funeral had to interrupt their grieving.
Again, the WFP does important work. The people in the camps are much better off because of its efforts. It is also important, however, to be accurate with regard to what that work is achieving and what it is not.
Recent developments indicate that there is reason to hope for better conditions. The rebels and the government have agreed to a ceasefire and are in peace talks. If the talks come to fruition, the WFP will have an important role in the transition to peace and development.
—Todd David Whitmore ’79, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN
The photo essay "Firewatcher," (WM Fall 2006) by Shay Atkinson ’04 stimulated me to reflect on my own summer job experience. Circumstances in my family life required me to transfer from Yale to Wabash the summer of 1940 after working in a summer camp near New Haven. I got a job working on an assembly line manufacturing household stokers; I worked 56 hours a week with time-and-a-half for overtime, and I made enough money to help substantially with my senior year at Wabash. I was a member of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee and have maintained a lifelong interest in the union movement and the welfare of the industrial worker.
My other work experience in Indianapolis came the summer of 1942. I had enlisted in the V-7 program in the Navy shortly after Pearl Harbor. I started work as assistant to the chief inspector in the armor plate division of E.C. Atkins & Co. the day after graduation while awaiting being called up for Midshipman’s School. Again, I worked six days a week, and I took a night course in statistics at the Indiana University Extension in Indianapolis—a course that stood me in good stead both on the job and later in my career.
Summer jobs in my high school and college years played a significant role in my life, just as such jobs have done and are doing for my children and grandchildren.
—Howard Baumgartel ’42, Lawrence, KS
The issue of race
I was not aware of the experiences of Bob Wedgeworth ’59 at Wabash ("The Only Black Guy at Wabash," WM Fall 2006). The situation at Wabash apparently began to change after then. In 1961 the Alpha Alpha Chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon was reactivated and TKE became the only integrated fraternity on campus. This continued at least until I graduated.
I personally remember a group trip to demonstrate where Governor of Alabama George Wallace was speaking in central Indiana. As I remember, Rich Cauthen ’66 was a black fraternity brother who ran cross country. I believe there were less than a dozen black students on campus. I enjoyed the experience of fellowship with some of them.
To my knowledge, race, at the time, did not seem to be a big issue on campus.
—Wayne Lochmaier, PhD ’64, Killen, AL
In response to a question posed in WM Fall 2006: What is essential to a Wabash education?
Nothing in the liberal arts is more essential than to learn, intellectually assimilate what was learned, and then communicate it.
Gee, William Norwood Brigance probably already said that!
—Robert Ivancevich ’72, Indianapolis, IN