From the Field

  • EGYPT TO LIBYA -- A Revolutionary Call to Action

    EGYPT TO LIBYA -- A Revolutionary Call to Action

    photo: Young Egyptian men load donated medical supplies and food onto a transport truck headed for Libya.

    U.S. Public Radio:

    As the international community scrambles to ship humanitarian aid to Libyan refugees and people affected by war, Egyptians have quickly taken matters into their own hands. Despite their own uncertain future, volunteers have moved hundreds of tons of food and medical supplies across the border to Libya.

    As Bonnie Allen reports, many Egyptians say their own revolution has stirred them to help in ways they never did before.

    Listen to radio piece

  • EGYPT: New Freedom, New Music

    EGYPT: New Freedom, New Music


    Massive protests throughout the Middle East are inspiring artists of all kinds. In Egypt, the revolution has been an awakening for many musicians and writers who had been forced to censor themselves, or suffer threats from secret police, under Hosni Mubarak's repressive regime.

    Arabian Knightz is one of the groups expressing their new-found freedom with a new song. It's a far cry from the government-censored lyrics they recorded in the past.  Bonnie Allen reports from Cairo.

    Listen to radio piece

  • South Sudan Referendum

    South Sudan Referendum

    I'm in Southern Sudan covering the landmark referendum, expected to give the South independence from Northern Sudan after decades of war and marginalization.

  • CBC DISPATCHES: Women Keeping the Peace

    CBC DISPATCHES: Women Keeping the Peace

    photo: UN policewoman Rewti Arjunan teaches unarmed combat to teenagers while off-duty.


    The west African state of Liberia is rebuilding after a protracted civil war, and a special unit of UN peacekeepers is there to see that it does.

    Liberia is another of the UN's largest deployments, and embedded in it is a police unit most others don't have. 

    It is entirely female, and it says it brings something to the dangerous game of peacekeeping that men just can't, as we hear from Canadian journalist Bonnie Allen.

    Listen to radio piece

  • While working in Liberia, I helped train young journalists to cover human rights stories, including sexual violence. One project was this 30 min. documentary that we produced for the Norwegian Refugee Council that features the voices of rape survivors, frontline health workers, emerging women activists, Liberia’s Chief Prosecutor for sexual assault crimes, the Minister of Justice, and the Gender Ministry’s GBV Unit. The production isn't top-notch, given the limited editing capabilities in the post-war country, but I'm proud that we used an entirely Liberian crew - including aspiring journalists Kula V. Fofana, Zekar Payweyne, and Jim-ngormoh A. Kamara. Already, NRC has played the documentary for 150 defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges in Liberia - many of whom ignore the plight of victims and dismiss rape as a crime, contributing to a dismally low conviction rate.
  • Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

    Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

    The tough-talking 72 year old woman is the first female President of an African nation. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a bit of a "superstar" internationally, and has won awards and high praise for some of her incredible strides (including wiping out 5 billion dollars worth of foreign debt), but living in Liberia reveals that the average Liberian is less impressed. They are frustrated that jobs are still scarce, and more than 1/2 of Liberians live on less than a dollar a day. Unrealistic expectations, just seven years out of war? Perhaps. But EJS will have to deal with that when she runs for a second term in 2011. I cover some of these problems in my report - see above.
  • Sex for Grades

    Sex for Grades

    During my time in Liberia, I was disturbed by a particular social issue that everyone in Liberia knows about, but no one reports on locally or internationally. Sex for Grades. It's believed that the male-dominated schools, combined with a longstanding patriarchal society, the accepted practice of older men marrying young girls, and a culture of rape from the civil war, contributes to the 'accepted practice' of male teachers demanding sex for grades. I interviewed an impressive young lady named Lovetta Swen, who is training to become a teacher so she can shift the balance of power in the classroom. But my report was only possible because another young lady, Precious Gaye, was willing to share her story. Gaye was forced to have sex with her math teacher to graduate from high school. As she told me, she wasn't very good at math and her math teacher refused to help her - he knew that he could exploit his power over her and demand sex in return for a passing grade. To listen to the story, go to: (or click on the link above)