Reporters on the Job

A Helping Hand: Correspondent Faiza Saleh Ambah says she had heard and read there was poverty in Saudi Arabia, but had never seen it before a trip distributing zakat, or aid, this week in the University and Sabeel neighborhoods of Jeddah. "I was not prepared for the squalor of what I saw," Faiza says.

The problem, she notes, is that most of the people she and a friend visited were illegal immigrants who are not eligible for government charity. "They must rely on handouts, which thankfully there is a lot of during Ramadan: Free meals in most mosques during iftar [the meal that breaks the daily fast], the annual zakat, and the distribution of sacks of rice, another form of zakat called zakat al-fitr," says Faiza. Many illegal immigrants went to the tents where zakat al-fitr is distributed to get free sacks of rice and grain.

Faiza says that there are no accurate figures on how many illegal immigrants there are, but they are believed to be in the hundreds of thousands.

"I was pleased that my friend was setting up a fund to pay for these immigrants' children to attend local schools," she says. "It made me feel less hopeless, like there's some way out."

Comic Revelations: Tom Hennigan, who lives in Buenos Aires, became acquainted with Argentina's famous cartoon character Mafalda when a Portuguese friend was visiting some years ago. "As we passed a newspaper kiosk one day, he noted the little cartoon girl's mug, and was shocked when I didn't know who she was."

Tom's friend immediately bought him a book of the cartoonist Quino's work. "I started asking friends about him after that, and everyone said I had to know about Quino. It was one of those cultural cornerstones you need to be aware of. I started buying his books as I didn't want to be left out."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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