Clyde Sanger’s 1969 profile of Lotta Hitschmanova

I have just come across a 1969 book that Clyde Sanger wrote two decades before his biography of Lotta Hitschmanova: “Half a Loaf: Canada’s Semi-Role Among Developing Countries” (The Ryerson Press).

One chapter highlights USC Canada’s work in Korea, in which Clyde provides an insightful profile of Dr. Lotta, excerpted below.

And as you can see, Lotta bucked the trend of other agencies sending Canadian “experts” overseas; it was a source of pride for her that all of USC’s programs were run by locally-engaged staff in partner countries.

Some Canadians tend to find Dr. Hitschmanova, with her beribboned uniform and unquenchable energy, a daunting person. I suppose she is, if you try to keep up with her, rather than simply admire her.

She spends four months of her year travelling through Korea, Hong Kong, India and the Middle East, devoting hours of a day to interviewing young children whom her USC has sponsored.

She was once a journalist in her native Czechoslovakia, and the circulars she writes after her trips have a vividness any newspaperman would envy. No sooner home each year than she sets off on a three-month speaking tour to raise 1,300,000 dollars.

In 1968 she made some 150 speeches on her tour, and said it was the hardest year. to raise money since she began as executive director in 1945: a reaction after the generosity of Centennial year, public preoccupation with Biafra, a poor season for her faithful friends the farmers, were some of the reasons she had identified.

Though her dedication can seem formidable to more easygoing Canadians, for those at the receiving end she is the embodiment of humanity. And this shines back in her Ottawa office room: a wall full of photographs of children, a bowl of chrysanthemums on her desk about which she says, “I love yellow. It’s warm, like hope.”

And she also is humble, and stresses: “Our greatest achievement is to have a completely Korean staff. I’m very humble about what we’ve done. And should be, because it is their doing.”

David Rain

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