Reporters on the Job

DRIVE TOWARD THE T-SHIRTS: "It was a squatter camp. So, it's not like they could tell me to turn right at the local McDonald's," says Rena Singer. Reporting today's story on South African homeless women forming a club to build homes was an inspiring experience (see story). But finding the women wasn't easy. "Their community has neither street signs nor paved roads. As most of the homes are shacks, there are also no useful landmarks," says Rena. "I called Anna Mofokeng, the club's founder, on my cellphone from the nearest highway exit, and she guided me as I drove toward her neighborhood. The women wore their white, Masisizane Women's Club T-shirtsso I could find them when I finally reached their neighborhood.

"The women sang as they took me on a tour of their community. I saw each of the new homes and some of the shacks they are planning to tear down. With the metal and wood from the old shacks, they have built a day-care center for their children.It was little more than a hut with a dirt floor, but it allowed the women to go out and look for employment."

Rena asked them how they - a group of poor, uneducated women - could do so much to change their community. "Anna said to me 'you don't need a fancy degree to do great things.' As I left, they sang a song of thanks to me."

FOLLOW-UP ON A MONITOR STORY

YOUNG TURKS TAKE OFFICE: A record five women were appointed to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's cabinet yesterday, as Japan's new leader underlined his desire to break with the past. On March 13 in "Japan's frustrated young pols," we reported that several Liberal Democratic Party members were backing Mr. Koizumi's bid for prime minister. Yesterday he rewarded two of them - Nobuteru Ishihara and Makiko Tanaka - with cabinet positions. Ms. Tanaka is the nation's first-ever female foreign minister, and the most popular politician in Japan, according to some polls.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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