Reporters on the Job

Debunking Insurance: Microinsurance is just starting to take off in Mexico (see story), so staff writer Sara Miller Llana was curious about what people who work as vendors or taco sellers around her neighborhood had to say about it. "Not surprisingly, many were deeply skeptical. Unlike microcredit loans, which give the immediate benefit of allowing an entrepreneur to start a tiny business, insurance is a "what if" scenario that is not really part of the culture yet," she says.

Alfredo Honsberg, the head of an insurance company in Mexico, told Sara that his clients would never just walk into a store and ask for life insurance. At least not yet. Similarly, Bob Annibale, who works at Citigroup in microfinance told Sara that his clients in Mexico, mostly rural women, first have to be educated about what exactly insurance is and how it works. There are simple misunderstandings: many women want their money to go to their children but by law an insurance company cannot pay out to a minor. That's why many women choose other women – neighbors or relatives – as their beneficiaries, he says. "They say, 'she would know what I would do with the money, the needs of my children, and of the house.' "

Looking For Rebels: It was surprisingly easy to meet Darfuri rebels for today's story (see story), says staff writer Scott Baldauf. He met some in N'Djamena, Chad's capital, and others closer to the Sudan-Chad border. They wore suits or simple clothes and lived in newly built homes or grass huts. Most promised that they would be unifying soon, but Scott says it was only Col. Jabbar Mahamat Hasabal who seemed to be realistic about how hard it would be to unify 18 rebel groups, many of whose leaders had no experience in politics.

The colonel lived on a grass mat in a thatched roof hut, with all his possessions hanging from a single peg on the wall. "I could only imagine what this man had given up to join the Darfur cause, and what he stood to lose if the Darfur cause failed, said Scott."

– David Clark Scott
World editor

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