Meanwhile in ... Sierra Leone, restaurant owner teaches prostitutes to cook, run business

And in Berlin, young tech entrepreneurs gather to listen to their peers talk about their worst business mistakes, while former mining town Houtong, Taiwan is now the country’s second-largest tourist attraction because of stray cats.

N.DeVries/Voice of America
Mariatu Sesay outside her cafe

Sierra Leone: Mariatu Sesay runs a cafe outside the country’s capital of Freetown. That’s her profession. But her passion is teaching prostitutes to cook and run a business so they can exit the sex trade. Ms. Sesay’s drive comes from her own experience, she told Voice of America. When she was 11, her parents were killed during Sierra Leone’s civil war, and she was forced into prostitution. When the war ended in 2002 she was able to return to school – a gift that she now tries to pass along to others. Sesay says she has helped more than 40 women leave the sex trade.  

Berlin: Once a month young tech entrepreneurs gather to enjoy an unusual form of entertainment: They listen to three or four of their peers talk about their worst business mistakes. Politely known as Failure Nights (the series actually has a more vulgar name), the practice is part of a worldwide movement that started in Mexico and now has spread to more than 250 cities in 80 countries. The idea is to learn from the errors of others. But in Berlin the event has particular resonance, one participating entrepreneur told the BBC. “The Germans really have problems talking about their failures,” he said. In Germany, “You learn how to make money, but you never learn how to fail.” 

Houtong, Taiwan: A decade ago, this former mining town appeared to be fading away. Today it is the country’s second-largest tourist attraction, all thanks to a photogenic group of stray cats. According to the Nikkei Asian Review, families began leaving Houtong after the local mine closed in 1990, and some left behind their pets. The remaining families fed them, and soon the stray cat population swelled to 200 – twice the size of the dwindling human population. When cat photographer Jian Peiling visited the village in 2008 she fell in love with the cats and began publishing their photos. Today almost a million feline-loving tourists are reported to visit the “cat village” each year.

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