Reporters on the Job

On Each Visit, a New Insight: Monitor photographer Andy Nelson has spent a lot of time with Alamsyah and his family in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, since the Monitor began following the path of the family after the devastating December 2004 tsunami.

"I remember mornings of pouring rain and watching his roof leak and the river rise; scorching hot days when that leaky roof offered much-needed shade; and nights sitting inside with the family zapping mosquitoes," Andy recalls. "I feel like I have gotten to know the family pretty well, albeit through the filter of my trusty translator, Vida."

But on his latest visit, Andy was surprised to learn something about Alamsyah that Alamsyah had never revealed. "We were talking about the upcoming election and the registration process, and he pulled out his old identity card," Andy says.

Correspondent Simon Montlake examined it and handed it over to Andy, pointing at one line – date of birth.

"Alamsyah's birthday was on Dec. 26, the day of the tsunami. Simon and I remarked about the coincidence and Alamsyah gave a slight smile, knowing that his life had begun on that day in 1970, and on that day in 2004, his life had changed forever."

City Boy at the Zoo: Contributor Cristian Lupsa went to the Buhusi Zoo curious to observe the contrast between a failing zoo and an emerging country. What he didn't expect to witness was the contrast between his urban upbringing and the traditional ways of a small town – including butchering the meat for the animals. "Many people in rural areas still grow their own food, a reality that is increasingly foreign in cities," says Cristian. Watching the keepers' roughened hands load meat into a wheelbarrow, he says, was like watching the country's rural past try to make a final stand.

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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