Reporters on the Job

Hopes on Hold: One of the more heart-tugging stories the Monitor's Abraham McLaughlin came across while visiting the Oure Cassoni refugee camp near Bahai, Chad (page 1), was that of Asama Haron, a striking 20-something who'd fled Sudan's Darfur region when Janjaweed militias attacked her village. She had completed a university degree in Khartoum, Sudan, and returned to her village to teach secondary school. She isn't married and has no kids, unusual for a woman of her age in her culture.

As an English speaker, she served as Abe's guide. "She was articulate, whip-smart, funny, and feisty," says Abe. "In another time, she might have been headed to Harvard Law School. But when I asked about her future, she simply said, 'I had dreams once.' "

Asama told Abe that she figured she'll be in Bahai for at least another year or two. "That's what makes me so mad,' she said.

Abe says it's too easy to overlook the fact that those in the refugee camps have dreams and aspirations. "Their lives were interrupted," he says, "and many want desperately to get them back."

Losses from Leaving: During the 15-year civil war in Beirut, Lebanon, any number of people fled the country - an understandable choice, given violence that claimed 150,000 lives. But correspondent Samar Farah was struck by the burden that choice seemed to place on returnees (page 6). "Most of my sources who had left, however briefly, felt their voices were discounted as those of foreigners upon return," says Samar. "A sort of credibility ratio exists: The more 'war years lived' you can count, the more your credibility goes up." Roseanne Khalaf, a Lebanese editor, spent a decade in West Beirut during some of the worst years of the war. Yet because she left for the US before it ended and didn't return until rebuilding was under way, she says many people don't want to hear her views of the war."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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