Friday, July 13, 2007

The African Journalist

Sorry for the break in posting... I'm just drained and by the end of the day I have no energy left to blog!
I vowed this week never to complain about being a journalist in North America again, so someone hold me to that when I get back. You can spend an entire day here - and I mean the time that I would spend in Canada reading, researching, interviewing 5 or 6 people, and writing an article - just trying to get a hold of ONE person. The other day I spent 8 hours calling about 20 different numbers in Chad and could not get through to ANYONE!!! You call and get the busy signal (which doesn't actually mean it's busy, just that you can't get through), over and over again until you're ready to throw the phone against the wall. And when you do get through to someone, the line is so bad you can barely hear them. Add to that the fact that they're speaking in French, very quickly, with an accent. It all makes for a very difficult and frustrating reality!

In any case, I finally did get the article written. It was about different aid groups disputing whether there was in fact a malnutrition crisis in eastern Chad where about 150,000 people have been displaced because of attacks on their villages. In the end, it was a delicate topic, because some agencies were commenting on othersm, etc. etc. Once it was finished, someone quoted in the article realized that what he had said was perhaps undiplomatic, and complained. IRIN (who I work for) actually decided to change it and take out what he said! I've never seen that happen before.

Anyways, today, I did my first interviews outside of the office (most are done by phone). I went to a school in a poor neighbourhood of Dakar that has a pilot project going with computers in elementary school. When they told me about the story, I said, 'what's the big deal, they don't have computers in schools here?' And the answer was, 'they don't even have pencils and paper in the universities!' That was an exaggeration of course, but it's still pretty remarkable that in a shanty neighbourhood, where mountains are trash pile up on the streets and sheep roam free that classrooms have computers!

Here are some of the kids from the school:

Anyways, another post to follow shortly on my new living arrangements... that's a whole other story

1 comment:

Still.Searching said...

best smiles I have seen in a long time!