AFGHAN BEGGARS: With all the aid (and foreigners) pouring into Afghanistan (page 1), there has been an increase in beggars on the street.
At any decent Kabul restaurant, says the Monitor's Scott Baldauf, Western aid workers have to walk briskly through a a group of a dozen women in blue burqas in order to reach the door. But one beggar on crutches in the upscale neighborhood of Wazir Akbar Khan at least pursues his trade with a sense of humor.
"One day, he walked up to our car and asked our interpreter, Lutfullah Mashal, 'Do you want a fox or a lion?' Mashal thought a moment and chose the fox. With a big grin, the beggar jammed his crutch into the car window, stopping just short of Mashal's face. 'Thank God I didn't ask for a lion,' Mashal laughed. We gave the beggar 20,000 Afghanis (50 cents), and the beggar said he hoped we lived forever," says Scott.
AN INNOCENT AFTERNOON: As the Monitor's Danna Harman worked on today's article about Ugandan children who are kidnapped to serve in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) (page 1), she felt a mixture of emotions.
"The idea that they were 'bad guys' never left my head, but on the other hand I just wanted to hug each and everyone of them. They all had slightly dulled eyes, especially the young mothers," Danna says.
She spent some time with an orphaned toddler who had been named "Innocent." "The rumor about Innocent is that he is the son of a top commander, maybe even the leader of the LRA himself. He was found walking around the bodies of several top commanders on the field.
"I played with him and carried him around for close to an hour and wished in a way I could take him home with me. He had on this ripped plaid shirt and was as cute and as miserable at the same time as I have ever seen anyone be."
SUMMIT ACCESS: Reporter Nicole Itano covered last year's UN conference on racism in Durban, South Africa. She says this week's World Summit on Sustainable Development (page 7) is not quite as well organized, but it's also several times as bigger. "This is a hard city to hold a meeting of this size in. Some of the workshops are 15 to 20 miles away from the main convention center," says Nicole. Reporters have good access to officials, but their status is signaled by the entry rules. "The media must walk around to the back of the building to enter by the service entrance even if they've just exited through the front entrance."
David Clark Scott