From the Field

  • PRI The World: US Policy Sparks Anti-Gay Attacks in Liberia

    PRI The World: US Policy Sparks Anti-Gay Attacks in Liberia

    Much of the recent debate in Liberia is rooted in misinformation about the Obama policy. Liberia receives more than $200 million a year from the U.S., and the Liberian media have repeatedly reported – incorrectly — that the Obama policy makes American foreign aid contingent on advancing gay rights. One newspaper headline declared: “‘No Gay Law, No Help,’ Obama threatens African Leaders.”

    The backlash has escalated anti-gay rhetoric and triggered some physical attacks.


  • Liberians hope long wait for the web is finally over

    In Liberia, internet is slow, unreliable, and expensive. But eight years out of war, that might finally start to change. Last week, a French ship arrived on the Liberian coast, carrying with it a fiber optic cable, two inches thick and 10,000 miles long. The ship is dragging the cable from France to South Africa.

    My stories on it can be heard and read here: Radio or BBC Online

  • Despite Nobel Prize, Sirleaf’s Re-Election Not Guaranteed

    Photo by Tamasin Ford -- former child soldiers in Monrovia, Liberia

    PRI`s THE WORLD: Liberians go to the polls on Tuesday to choose a president, less than a week after the incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was named a Nobel Peace Prize winner. It’s a pretty heady campaign endorsement, and it’s angered the other candidates in the race. But the Nobel is no guarantee that Sirleaf will win re-election.

    Sao Marwlo drives a motorcycle taxi in the capital Monrovia seven days a week. He’s 19, and he can’t afford school fees to finish high school. He only earns about $60 a month. He said he won’t be voting for Sirleaf.  

    “The Old Ma, she really fooled us,” Marwlo said, using Sirleaf’s nickname, Ma Ellen. “She promised us a lot of things, and she never did it.”

    Listen to my Radio report on PRI`s The World:

  • Reaction From Liberia on Nobel Peace Prize

    Women in Liberia celebrate the Nobel Peace Prize

    PRI`s THE WORLD: This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded jointly to three women – Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian Leymah Gbowee and Tawakul Karman of Yemen.

    They were recognized for their “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

    Reaction from Liberia - home to two of the Peace Prize winners.

  • ‘Ma Ellen’ – and her Liberian Presidential Re-election Bid

    PRI`s THE WORLD: The West African nation of Liberia will go to the polls on October 11th. That’s still a big deal in a country recently emerged from a brutal civil war that destroyed the economy and the country’s infrastructure.

    Liberia made history in 2005 by electing Africa’s first female president, largely due to the overwhelming support of women voters. Now, that president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is trying to woo the women’s vote in her bid for re-election. But not all Liberian women believe that their female President has served their interests.

  • Foster mom serves up food and love...

    Foster mom serves up food and love...

    A recent story that I did about a 22-year old American girl who serves as legal guardian and foster mom to 13 kids in Uganda sparked a lot of controversy. People were somehow offended that I interviewed a child welfare officer in Uganda who said 13 foster kids in one home isn't best practises, and that the young American woman is too young to adopt under Uganda's laws. I can only shake my head at that response - those are the laws in Uganda, and just because a young woman has good intentions and a great heart doesn't mean the law isn't the law.

    That said, I think that Katie Davis is a lovely young woman and that her 13 'adopted' daughters are happy and loved. So when Deutsche Welle radio wanted to feature Katie Davis in its radio program about youth who are making a difference, I had the chance to feature some of Davis' other work - including a feeding program for 15-hundred children five days a week.

    Listen to the radio piece on "Generation Change"

  • Acid Attacks by Women on Rise in Uganda

    Acid Attacks by Women on Rise in Uganda

    Acid attacks are not common in Africa, compared to places like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, where hundreds of women are burned and disfigured every year. Yet, in Uganda, there are several acid attacks every month. The victims are both women and men, and, in many cases, the perpetrator is a woman.

    Most of the attacks are crimes of passion.

    Listen to radio piece on PRI's THE WORLD

  • Baby Rhino Obama under round-the-clock security

    Baby Rhino Obama under round-the-clock security

    Rhino Baby "Obama" was the first rhino born in Uganda in 27 years. He lives at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in central Uganda, where he gets secret-service style protection. The 30-square-mile rhino sanctuary has armed guards, perimeter foot patrols, an electric fence, and constant monitoring.

    All this security is to stop a repeat of history. All of Uganda’s rhinos – hundreds of them – were killed by poachers in the early 1980s. Rhino horn, which is made of thickly matted hair and keratin, is a considered a precious commodity. One pound of ground rhino horn can fetch $40,000. In Asia, it’s used in traditional medicines to treat headaches and fever.

    Listen to radio piece on PRI's The World

  • LIBERIA: Ivorian Refugees

    LIBERIA: Ivorian Refugees

    Photo: David Nemlin starts a fire to clear enough land to grow food for his family in Liberia after they fled Ivory Coast.


    A story of the human spirit under pressure in Liberia.  The tale of a farmer and the want of some seed.

    Listen to radio piece

  • LIBERIA: Ivorian Refugees snub camps for border villages

    LIBERIA: Ivorian Refugees snub camps for border villages

    I'm in Liberia for a couple weeks to report on the refugee situation. More than 150-thousand people have fled the violence in Cote d'Ivoire and crossed the border into neighbouring Liberia. Most of them -- 90 % - have chosen to settle in small, impoverished border villages rather than moving into formal refugee camps. That's putting a huge strain on resources in post-war Liberia, a poor country with limited infrastructure and food production. Stay tuned for a few reports.

  • EGYPT: The Missing

    EGYPT: The Missing

    photo: Mohamed Alshrqawi, recently freed after 16 years in an Egyptian prison without charges.

    U.S. Public Radio:

    Egypt's ruling military council recently announced that it would lift the country's emergency law before September's parliamentary elections. The law, which has been in place since President Hosni Mubarak took power in 1981, gives the state sweeping powers to arrest people without charge and to detain prisoners indefinitely.

    The military-led transitional government has released almost 2,000 prisoners. But by some estimates, there are still thousands of people being held without charge in Egypt's prisons, including activists, bloggers, and members of Islamic groups.

    Reporter Bonnie Allen followed one family's struggle to free their father.

    Listen to radio piece

  • UGANDA: Surgeon Shortage

    UGANDA: Surgeon Shortage

    Photo: Orthopaedic surgeon Patrick Sekimpi repairs a broken leg inside operating room in Kampala, Uganda.

    U.S. Public Radio:

    Uganda is desperately in need of surgeons. In a country of 32 million inhabitants, there are only about 100 surgeons, and accident victims wait weeks or months for critical operations. As Bonnie Allen reports, one reason for the shortage is that medical students in Uganda are increasingly choosing to work in the better paying field of HIV and AIDS

    Listen to radio piece

  • LIBYA: Acts of Kindness

    LIBYA: Acts of Kindness

    So ...this one is a bit more personal. A first person account of some of the acts of kindness received while reporting in eastern Libya!

    U.S. Public Radio:

    For four decades, foreign journalists have been banned from reporting in Libya. And Moammar Ghaddafi's government has kept tight control on Libyan journalists, dictating exactly what the state media covers.

    When the recent revolutionary movement began, foreign journalists managed to enter the country through the east, which was controlled by those rebelling against the Ghaddafi regime. In this Reporter's Notebook, Bonnie recounts how the people in eastern Libya gave journalists a warm welcome.

    Listen to radio piece

  • UGANDA: Somalian journalists form community

    UGANDA: Somalian journalists form community

    Photo: Ahmed Omar Hashi, 44, displays a photo of himself taken in a Mogadishu market after suffering a near-fatal gunshot wound.

    U.S. Public Radio:

    Somalia's government collapsed two decades ago when civil war broke out. Since then, a weak transitional government has been in place, but militant Islamic groups continue to fight for control. Journalists are pressed to keep quiet about the violence in the country, to report propaganda, and to take sides with either the government or the militants — or suffer the consequences.

    As a result, Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists: more than 20 reporters have been killed in the last five years, and many others have fled the country.

    Radio news director Ahmed Omar Hashi sought refuge in Uganda after suffering a near-fatal gunshot wound. There, he has found a community of refugee journalists from his homeland. Bonnie Allen reports.


    Listen to radio piece


  • 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