Reporters on the Job
CHARITY WITHOUT CORRUPTION: When reporter Colin Barraclough went to interview Juan Carr, founder of Argentina's Solidarity Network, a charity group, he expected to find a huge warehouse filled with food packages, medicines, and other donated goods (this page). Instead, Mr. Carr's improvised office was attached to a sports complex. There were no donated goods in sight, and the interview was constantly interrupted by squash players on their way to the changing rooms.
Corruption, Carr told him, is now so commonplace in Argentina that even charities have been accused of pocketing funds, or selling donated goods on the black market. To retain his group's integrity, the Solidarity Network receives requests for donations from those in need, searches for individuals or companies who can donate what is required, and puts the two together, never touching the goods itself (Tel. from US: 011-54-11-4796-5828; www.redsolidaria.org.ar). "It's a powerful idea," says Colin. "The group's only asset is a telephone number, yet they are able to help thousands of people every day."
COMPETING WITH CHICKEN WINGS: The Monitor's Danna Harman says that today's story about the clash of Madagascar's oratory traditions with modern culture (page 1) was difficult to do on many levels. All the political upheaval made it impossible to set up an interview with anyone to talk about anything besides politics. "So, I just dressed up and went to the postinauguration party at President Marc Ravalomanana's mansion. I set about tackling the various guests poets, elders, teachers, etc. with questions about kabary and Madagascar traditions," says Danna.
But a party is not the best place to understand complex foreign cultural traditions at times Danna says that she could barely hear the answers over the band. And there was free food. "Every time an hors d'oeuvres plate would come by, I would inevitably lose my interviewee to a chicken wing.
"The last problem I had with this story is that it seems impossible to translate kabary from Malagasy into any other language. Every single time I asked for an example of the oratory, I was given a long speech in Malagasy, and when I asked for a translation they looked at me as if I were mad and said: 'But that's kabary, it can only be in Malagasy.' And then they would walk off in a huff in search of a miniature egg roll."
David Clark Scott