Reporters on the Job

Serendipity Defined: Reporter Fred Weir didn't go to Georgia with the intention of writing about the Caspian oil pipeline. But he had a few extra days after the recent elections and thought he'd poke around. "I drove out with my interpreter to see the pipeline. Just before we pulled over into the village of Khaishi, I was trying to explain to her, not too successfully, what 'serendipity' meant."

When they got out of the car to ask a local about what was going on in the area, their car was soon surrounded by villagers eager to tell their story (this page). Grinning, Fred turned to his interpreter and said, "This is serendipity.'"

Reporter as Courier: Readers touched by the coverage of the Methboub family in Baghdad since 2002 (page 1) have been filling Monitor staffer Scott Peterson's in-box with letters, drawings, and photos. Some readers write a single note, others- including one group of students and their teacher in Elkhorn, Wis. - establish a kind of pen-pal relationship.

"Every time I go to Baghdad now, one of the first things I do is get the letters translated and take them to the Methboub family," Scott says. Some of the letters are addressed to the matriarch - a widowed mother of eight - while others are for one of the children. The wartime diary of Amal brought a hail of mail; the young irrepressible twins also receive their share. Often, the girls send back drawings and letters of their own, thanking the American readers for their support.

"One letter came from an American inmate in Oregon, writing from prison," Scott says. He had the letter translated and gave it to the family. Amal wrote back a very touching letter, and even included a small metal crucifix, to encourage the inmate. "The letter came back from Oregon saying it violated inmate regulations, because the cross was included," Scott says. "I brought the cross back to Amal - and sent her response back to Oregon."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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