Under-Told Stories Project

2010

In Cairo’s Trash City, School Teaches Reading, Recycling

JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: the efforts of two social entrepreneurs to make something better from garbage.
Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro has our report from Egypt.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: If these students seem a bit old for their tasks, it’s because none of them had ever set foot in a school until this one opened two years ago. The kids come from generations of illiterate and poor garbage collectors.
LAILA ISKANDAR, social entrepreneur: This is how we learn numbers. These are ones, so there’s tens of those in this. It’s complicated if you don’t touch and feel. That’s what Maria Montessori taught us, concepts, math concepts.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Social entrepreneur Laila Iskandar has taken it on herself to change the world of those who live in Medina Zabaleen, literally, “Trash City,” on the outskirts of Cairo.
For decades, the collectors, also called Zabaleen, have hauled home what the people of Cairo threw away. Eighty percent of it was recycled and sold, with organic waste fed to pigs owned by the Zabaleen. Pigs are considered unclean in this largely Muslim nation, but the Zabaleen are Christians. Their garbage collection methods earned them little money and even less respect.
LAILA ISKANDAR: They’re perceived to be dirty. They don’t wear a clean uniform. They don’t really wash their trucks. They used to raise pigs, and that’s not a very clean enterprise.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: A decade ago, the government tried to modernize waste management by hiring European firms to handle the trash in major cities. But Cairo’s 17 million inhabitants, who produce 13,000 tons of garbage every day, were accustomed to door-to-door pickup by the Zabaleen.
Iskandar says they didn’t take easily to sorting, recycling and carrying trash to bins. The multinationals also found it hard to hire workers, especially the historically self-employed Zabaleen.
LAILA ISKANDAR: They refused. They said, we are entrepreneurs and we are recyclers. Do you really think we enjoy going out and handling this dirt just because we love dirt? You know?
So, anyway, they tried to hire others, but there’s a stigma to the trade. It’s not such a pleasant thing to do. And they couldn’t retain their labor.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Finally, Iskandar says, the multinationals and Zabaleen made an informal arrangement, allowing these traditional collectors again to work door to door in some neighborhoods.
But, last year, the Zabaleen were dealt a huge setback. In 2009, the Egyptian government, responding to the swine flu epidemic, ordered all pigs killed in the country. Some 300,000 of the animals were culled. The move did nothing to contain swine flu. It did make people appreciate just how much organic waste the animals consumed. The pigs kept the city of Cairo clean.
For the Zabaleen, farming pigs was a source of both income and protein. With no pigs to feed, they had no reason to pick up organic waste. Tons of it is now strewn along streets and in overflowing bins. Neither goats nor the methods of rich countries, where trash is separated by households and dumped in large landfills, have worked here, says Iskandar.
LAILA ISKANDAR: You can’t copy-paste systems that work in the north in the south. It doesn’t work. And it wasn’t smart in the first place.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: She thinks the solution lies in a more educated and competitive generation of garbage collectors, who learn a uniquely tailored vocabulary in the school.
LAILA ISKANDAR: Pert Plus, Pantene, Head and Shoulders, these are the first words we learn in our literacy class.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Pert Plus, Pantene, Head and Shoulders because their maker, Procter & Gamble, pays a few cents for every container that is recycled. The company is anxious to keep them from being refilled and sold by counterfeiters.
The literacy taught here is practical: learning to read city maps, spreadsheets, to negotiate for a better contract, whether with municipalities or multinational companies.
LAILA ISKANDAR: In 2015 or 2017, when the other contracts are up for negotiation, or, we hope, end, these guys here will be ready to renegotiate. Contracts are part of the curriculum.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Even as she tries to improve the lot of garbage collectors, Iskandar wants to raise public awareness of the growing garbage crisis and the need for recycling. It’s a crisis not just in cities, but also rural areas, like the Sinai Peninsula.
Here, she’s worked with another social entrepreneur, Sherif El Ghamrawy. Ghamrawy started the first eco-lodge along this coast in the 1980s. Everything, from food to furniture, is recyclable or recycled. But with the growth of tourism came another opportunity.
SHERIF EL GHAMRAWY, social entrepreneur: After I saw how the development is going on in this area and a lot of hotels started coming up, and little camps, so the trash was all over.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: With Iskandar’s help, he designed a recycling program and signed agreements with the surrounding towns and especially the area’s large hotels and resorts to handle their refuse.
Organic or food waste is given to the livestock of bedouin herders native to this desert region. Plastics and so-called inorganic materials go to a transfer center set up by Ghamrawy’s organization, Hemaya, or “Protection” in Arabic.
SHERIF EL GHAMRAWY: We can see that we work in a touristic area with lots of alcohol.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Glass bottles of every color and shape, cardboard and papers and plastics destined for a variety of recycled uses.
SHERIF EL GHAMRAWY: This is the anti-shock that is used for shoe soles, and also hair for the ladies, you know, the hair…
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Hair rollers?
SHERIF EL GHAMRAWY: Yes.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: But what would happen before you came?
SHERIF EL GHAMRAWY: If its not very well-organized, everyone is collecting his own waste and threw it somewhere in the desert. The plastic bags, they fly into the sea and kill the corals or kill the fish.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Ghamrawy’s project has turned much of that debris into profit, exporting materials like plastic to China.
SHERIF EL GHAMRAWY: Because it’s a very, very expensive material, it can actually — we used to sell it for about 3,000 pounds. That makes about $600 per ton.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: About 100 young men work for him. Most of them are migrants from the impoverished regions of Upper Egypt.
ABD EL NABY, employee (through translator): We came to make a living. There are no jobs. The economy is very depressed in Upper Egypt. We don’t mind doing this. It beats working for the government or a city job.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Their pay, including a share of the revenue from selling the plastic, is about $200 U.S. a month, a decent wage by local standards. Much of it is sent back home to their families.
So, they couldn’t earn this kind of money doing anything else here?
SHERIF EL GHAMRAWY: No. No. Some university graduates, they wouldn’t earn as much money as this guy.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Back in Medina Zabaleen, Laila Iskandar hopes her students can do even better. Among her stars is Moussa Nazmy. At 24, he has started his own business granulating plastic that will eventually be exported to China.
MOUSSA NAZMY, business owner (through translator): At a most basic level, I learned Arabic literacy. If I go to do a trade, I can definitely record it in words. I also learned new recycling methods, because it was different from what my father was doing.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He’s in the first 44 who have graduated from the recycling school, the very first person in his family ever to read.
For Iskandar, it’s the first step in bringing respect for him and for a trade that she says will be critical if developing countries like Egypt are to sustain healthy economic growth.

 

In Egypt, Religious Tensions Erupt in Violence

view from inside a cave looking out to a stone domeTensions are on the rise in Egypt between Muslim and Coptic Christian factions and these religious divisions have begun to escalate to violence.
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FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The church is carved out of El Mokattam, a giant bluff on the outskirts of Cairo. Egypt’s Coptic Church is one of Christianity’s earliest, and its history goes back to 42 A.D. This church was built in the 1990s by wealthier members of the Copt community, many living abroad.

But most of the Copts in Egypt today are poor and a distinct minority in a country that is now 90 percent Muslim. They often complain about being discriminated against.

Sometimes, religious tension has escalated into violence. Six Copt worshipers and a Muslim guard were gunned down outside a church on January 7, the day Coptic and orthodox churches celebrate Christmas.

The attack was an apparent retaliation for the alleged rape of a Muslim girl by a Christian man. The funerals for the dead brought forth more violence, this time angry Copts clashed with police.

Author and democracy activist Alaa Al Aswany blames the tension on a steady rise in the Wahabi brand of religious conservatism, much of it imported from and financed by Saudi Arabia and, he says, promoted endlessly on television.

ALAA AL ASWANY, author and democracy activist: You have, for example, in Egypt more than 17 TV channels every day promoting the Wahabi ideas.

And this way of understanding the religion is very exclusive, in the sense that they are against anybody who is different. They are against Shia, people of Iran. They are against even Muslims who are for democracy, like myself, accusing me of being secular, against the religion. They are against Jews, of course. They are against Christians. They are against everybody who is not with them.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Egyptians who grew up in the ’50s and ’60s say they see signs of this growing conservatism. Most Egyptian women now cover their hair, and growing numbers the niqab, covering all but their eyes. It’s evident even in cemeteries like this one, where you can see disagreement over inscriptions on tombstones.

AHMED THARWAT, TV host: This is the most merciful, whatever, and then somebody says we’re not supposed to do that, and he wipes it. You actually — the culture — you actually see the culture clashing in print right in the front — before your eyes.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Ahmed Tharwat has lived in Minnesota for 25 years, where he hosts a TV show for the region’s Arab-American community. He recently visited the Nile Delta village where he lived as a young man.

AHMED THARWAT: Well, this is all Muslims. This all, as you can see, all Muslim in this section.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He says, when he was growing up, one Christian family lived in the village. But there was no Christian cemetery nearby, so they were buried alongside Muslim neighbors. This departure from custom prompted some debate, but it was resolved by community leaders.

AHMED THARWAT: And I remember when the neighbor, my uncle said, he didn’t hurt us when he was alive. Why would he hurt us when he dies? And I think that really sum up the whole story, you know, that people act based on their values and their tradition, more than their religion. And their interpretation for religion will be through their values.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Would this ever happen today?

AHMED THARWAT: I don’t think so.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Al Aswany says it wouldn’t happen today because both sides have gotten more rigid.

ALAA AL ASWANY: This intolerance has been existing in the society because of the Wahabi people, but also it has been transmitted as an infection to the other side. So, you have also some Coptic fanatics, and you have also Coptic channels who are trying to make the point that the religion of Islam is a whole bunch of nonsense.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Refaat Lakousha, a professor at Alexandria University, says everything now is seen through a religious lens.

REFAAT LAKOUSHA, professor, Alexandria University (through translator): You will always find a religious interpretation of any conflict between Coptics and Muslims, because we live in an era of tension between the religions that I’ve never seen registered at this level.

And that’s why, in any conflicts between Muslims and Coptics, in the subway or the market, it will always end up being taken in the religious context.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: After the January riots, religious leaders from both communities succeeded in restoring calm. Copts and Muslims have lived side by side for centuries, with only occasional spasms of sectarian violence.

The key question is, are things different this time? Will the current tension escalate into an enduring religious conflict? Author Al Aswany thinks it’s not in the Egyptian character.

ALAA AL ASWANY: It could be repeated, but I don’t think this is an opening of an era of killing in Egypt, because, as I said, the Egyptian culture, which is very old and very civilized, will never tolerate — will never tolerate it.

So, we have had one positive aspect to be belonging to a country which has been existing for six centuries — 60 centuries, 6,000 years, because everything you are having now, you will discover that it happened before many times.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Now everyone is bracing for the upcoming trial of the Copt man accused of rape and of the three Muslims accused of the Christmas Day killing.

 

Droughts Feed Hunger Crisis and Violence in Sudan

starving child hooked up to medical equipment on a bedFred de Sam Lazaro reports on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, where drought and food shortages are contributing to violence, political instability and death. Click here to watch the video.

 

 

JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: growing violence and hunger in southern Sudan.

Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In a remote Doctors Without Borders field hospital, a newborn arrives

WOMAN: What a good man. What a good man.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The little boy emerges with no medical complication.

WOMAN: Three-point-four.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Three-point-four kilos?

WOMAN: Yes.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He weighs in at a healthy 3.4 kilos, or 7.5 pounds. But these happy moments are few and short-lived. Just yards away are children months older who weigh less than the newborn.

MAN: He’s five months old now.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: How much does he weigh?

MAN: He weighs 3.3 kilos.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The U.N. says half of south Sudan’s population is desperately short of food. That’s a fourfold increase in hunger this year, due to drought and growing violence, violence stemming from age-old local conflicts and, some fear, echoes of the north-south civil war.

Sudan’s mostly black African south has long fought the predominantly Arab north. A largely ethnic conflict took on economic dimensions when oil was discovered in the 1970s in the south. Its benefits have mostly flowed to the national capital, Khartoum, in the more affluent and powerful north.

Fighting ended five years ago with an internationally brokered comprehensive peace treaty. It recognized a semiautonomous government in south Sudan and called for nationwide elections. Those will be held in April. But, under the treaty, there will also be a referendum. It is now set for early 2011, just in the south, to determine if it will break off into a separate country.

As the votes draw nearer, there’s been a noticeable breakdown in security in many parts of this vast territory.

The United Nations estimates that some 360,000 people last had to flee their homes from violence and about 2,500 lost their lives due to violence. That’s even more than happened in Darfur, in western Sudan, last year.

A lot of the conflict likely has to do with local rivalries and deteriorating living conditions, especially the lack of water for crops and cows, the major source of wealth here.

WOMAN: Can you ask him why — who shot him?

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It’s what landed Tut Bidong in this field hospital for three months. He was shot in the leg in a fight with a rival clan.

TUT BIDONG, Sudan (through translator): Somebody cut the ears their cattle, and they came back and to take revenge on us.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Zach Vertin, an analyst with the International Crisis Group, says this kind of fighting has gone on for a long time.

ZACH VERTIN, International Crisis Group: Traditionally, among the pastoralist communities in south Sudan, cattle rustling during — during seasonal migrations is a primary source of conflict.

You also have rising food insecurity, minimal access to state institutions, minimal access to justice mechanisms, and a huge number of small arms and light weapons.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: There also are fears that Sudan’s leader, Omar al-Bashir, internationally indicted for war crimes in Darfur, might be inciting the intertribal conflicts to disrupt the elections or to prevent the breakup of the country.

ZACH VERTIN: Previously, Khartoum did offer financial and military support to certain tribes within the south, but also in other regions, in the east and in Darfur, as part of a broader sort of divide-and-rule strategy. And, so, it’s important that the parties and the international community keep an eye on that.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: We spent the day in an MSF clinic up north, north of southern Sudan. And the struggle to just get enough food in children’s bellies is so arduous.

How realistic is it to — to juxtapose an election in this environment, and how meaningful is it in the grand scheme of things?

ZACH VERTIN: It’s going to be difficult, particularly among communities that haven’t — haven’t exercised this democratic experience before. We can hope for the best, and that this is the beginning of something much longer-term.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Despite the infighting and their difficult living conditions, most experts say southern Sudanese are likely to come together and vote to become an independent nation. We heard this from people we talked to at the field hospital.

MAN: Because we are still together with northern Sudan, that’s why the government does not provide enough facilities here in southern Sudan.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: So, the northern government has not taken care of the south properly, you’re saying?

MAN: Yes, yes, yes.

In southern Sudan, there is no hospital, there is no schools, there is no water, there is no anything. Southern Sudan will get the money from the oil and support in another country, like the USA and Africa.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Many experts agree it will take significant international oversight to ensure the elections, referendum, and the consequences, drawing up borders and agreements to share the oil, all proceed without conflict.

But Doctors Without Borders says it is preparing for the worst. Even under the most optimistic scenario, this region will remain largely without access to basic health services for a long time, says Akko Eleveld, one of the group’s country leaders.

AKKO ELEVELD, Doctors Without Borders: We will be here for — I suspect, for the coming years, for sure in 2009 for the elections — 2010 for the elections, 2011 for the referendum. But, even after that, access to basic health care is minimal. And, if we look on the ground, what we see is an unfolding humanitarian crisis.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And field hospitals like this are on the front lines of the crisis and malnutrition on the leading edge.

Nurse Tim Harrison runs this emergency feeding center, a place some patients walk days to reach, a space designed for far fewer patients.

TIM HARRISON, Doctors Without Borders: This ward will hold 12, and this ward will hold eight, so 20 in-patients.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And you have today?

TIM HARRISON: Fifty-four.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That’s not counting the overflow of dozens under a tarp and hundreds of outpatients. The first challenge is to get emergency food aid, not ballots, to the population of southern Sudan.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Fred’s report is part of our collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

 


In Ethiopia, a Daily Struggle for Clean Water

WOMAN (through translator): We have no choice, this is the only option we have. We’re really desperate. We don’t have strength and we don’t have donkeys. Yes, my children are always getting ill, stomach aches, stomach aches, stomach aches.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Keria Salo must balance concerns about her kids health against the perils of walking miles to what is called a community water point, or sometimes to an open pond or a river.
WOMAN (through translator): We usually go to the town to get water, but, even there, we always have to fight for a place in line. If you’re not from that area, you don’t get first preference. When you go further out, you always run into conflicts. The people with access to water are stronger.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Perhaps three quarters of Ethiopia’s population do not have easy access to clean drinking water.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It causes ripples throughout society. At a nearby school, the principal says water chores fall mostly to girls, who often come late or not at all.
ZERIHUN TEKLE, principal (through translator): It causes severe problems like dropouts, coming late, repeating classes, just regressing in terms of education. Plus, when they go further in the summer, when there’s less water, they get beaten up or abducted for marriages, which is another problem.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: For years, development experts thought, if they just put in enough water points, the problem would be solved. It didn’t take long for many they did install to stop functioning, says Meselich Seyoum, who works for a Britain-based non-government organization called Water Aid.
MESELICH SEYOUM, Water Aid: In most cases, those failures happened because there was no involvement of community from the beginning. There was this feeling of, we know what’s good for the people, and then we just go in, put the system, and leave. There was — there was no ownership, and there was no capacity of the community, not knowing how to even manage the system, so that it can last for a longer period of time.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: She says her agency now works in partnership with groups based in the country and with local communities.
In the village of Falka, this well-used facility was designed by an Ethiopian non-government group, Water Action. Because it’s arid here, the well is more than 1,000 feet deep and the water pumped up has to be treated for excessive fluoride.
Under the new approach, the aid groups provide engineering and scientific expertise, but it’s the villagers who must chip in, at least with their labor. In Falka, the community was given ownership and responsibility to maintain this facility. Every household pays about 50 cents a week, a rate set by local leaders. So far, the user fees have generated a fund balance of more than $1,000.
ABARRASH MUNATI, committee member (through translator): We have seven committee members who collect the money. They also educate on health issues. They bring it in once a week. So far, we have not had any complaints.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Abarrash Munati is on a committee set up by community leaders to manage the water point. She lacks much formal education, but she knows about her community’s system and what it has accomplished.
ABARRASH MUNATI (through translator): The white tank takes water from down below. The blue one treats this thing fluoride, which we hear is bad for people. Our kids used to suffer from diarrhea, stomach aches, typhoid. It was also difficult for us to keep clean because we couldn’t get water and we couldn’t afford it. Plus, also, pregnant women would have to go a long way to get water. We had a lot of miscarriages.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The fact that Abarrash Munati does not have to spend hours every day fetching water allows her time to be productive in other ways. And her family’s relative affluence is immediately visible in this home when you see these bags, stockpiles of cereals good for months for her family.
Her husband, Muhammad Hajji Siraj, agrees life is a lot easier for him and their five children.
MUHAMMAD HAJJI SIRAJ, Ethiopia (through translator): When she was away, we had to tend the farm, as well as the household. When the kids want their mommy, we have to tend them. Also, when they are late, we have to leave home and go in search of them. Now, with water closer by, we don’t have to worry about such things.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: They also don’t have to worry about interruptions in their water supply. Several local residents have been trained to maintain it. Some day, they plan to install another water point.
The key question, why are villages like Falka so rare? Experts say there isn’t enough money to cover all of rural Ethiopia. Yet, at the same time, only a fraction of funds the government has set aside have been spent.
Adane Kassa heads the group Water Action.
ADANE KASSA, Water Action: Fund scarcity, on one hand, is a problem, but, in reality, fund absorption is also a problem. This is because of the lack of — of capacity, capacity in terms of manpower, absorption, capacity in terms manpower and skills.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That shows up in the report card from regions like Alaba, where the village of Falka is located, says Nuredin Hassan Lamacho, a regional government executive
NUREDIN HASSAN LAMACHO, regional government executive (through translator): So far, we have 16 dug wells. In addition, with help of governments and donors and our administration, we have dug a total of 34 boreholes. But this only reaches a third of the population. Two-thirds remain without clean water access.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: At the rate they’re going, he says, it will take 40 years to get a source of clean water to every village in his jurisdiction. So, mud puddles and risky treks will continue to be a way of life.

 

In Cambodia, Verdict Nears in Khmer Rouge Genocide Trial

woman holding infinantThirty years after the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, those accused of perpetrating genocide in Cambodia are facing justice for the first time.
Click here to watch the video »

 

 

JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: a step toward justice in the Southeast Asian nation of Cambodia.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: For several months, as many as two million Cambodians tuned in to a weekly court drama on TV.

NEWS ANCHOR (through translator): Hello, and welcome to the 22nd program in our series “Duch on Trial.”

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: This is no fictional series. The genocide being described killed almost two million in the 1970s. However, most viewers know little about what is now distant history.

Two-thirds of today’s Cambodians weren’t even born when the Khmer Rouge were in power. And few Cambodians know much about the international tribunal that is trying a handful of prominent survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime for their role in the killings. The TV series is intended to change that.

NEWS ANCHOR (through translator): Now we’re going to see a selection of evidence given to the court about some of the crimes which with Duch has been charged.

NEWS ANCHOR (through translator): Viewers should be aware that some, but not all of the stories told here were denied by Duch.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The first to trial was Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Comrade Duch, now in his late 60s.

KAING GUEK EAV, former Khmer Rouge prison chief (through translator): We treated them as if they were already dead. I allowed four torture methods.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The trial itself is taking place just outside Phnom Penh. The capital is also the sight of the prison Duch commanded where at least 14,000 men, women and children were photographed and documented in a macabre administrative process, then tortured and killed.

Van Nath was one of only seven people who came out alive. Today, he paints and sells pictures of the painful memories. He talked about his imprisonment with Eric Stover, a human rights scholar and expert who is studying the impact of international courts on societies and individuals.

ERIC STOVER, Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley: How long were you held before you were asked to come and draw the portraits?

VAN NATH, former prisoner (through translator): One month and four days.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Van Nath’s life was spared so he could paint portraits of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge leader who went into hiding and died in 1998.

VAN NATH (through translator): In that six months, about 67 pictures of Pol Pot.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Testifying at the trial left him angry at being cross-examined and at seeing how well the defendant seemed to be treated.

VAN NATH (through translator): It was just like a shock when I go there to the court and see him. When I tell them the truth, they doubt me, ask me a lot of questions. I don’t feel the trust when I tell them, and that makes me feel bad. It seems like the accused person has more rights that the civil parties do, and I’m really not satisfied with that.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Many also aren’t satisfied with the slow pace of justice. It was delayed for years by Cold War politics and the reluctance of the Cambodian government, which still has former members of the Khmer Rouge in it.

Stover says the tricky negotiations limited the scope of the court, which was set up with two international and three Cambodian justices.

ERIC STOVER: The Cambodian government itself was not that in favor of this court. Even the negotiations to create it took a long period of time. We say that with evidence, over time, evidence loses its value. You’re 30 years later, people’s memories have been — people have forgotten. People have died. So they — going after those most responsible is really all you’re going to get at this point.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Justice delayed may be justice denied for many victims, but Chum Sirath, who started a group called the Victims Association says, despite the limited number of defendants, the court sends an important message.

CHUM SIRATH, Victims Association: If you can have a bigger number, more people, it would be better. But, if not, it’s better than nothing. When you commit a crime, there will be people who try to put you — to take you into account. This is one of the lessons that young generation can learn.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Eric Stover says the court itself has had to learn how to teach some of those lessons.

ERIC STOVER: I don’t think any court should be expected to be a social engineering institution. They’re just not designed to do that. But what we can expect from them is that they should have vigorous programs to try to go out into the population and describe what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and what their limitations are.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He says, after a slow start, the court did launch outreach programs. Twice a week, buses have brought in thousands of Cambodians on field trips.

I asked this group of visitors how many had ever heard of the court before coming here. The international community wanted the word spread even further. That’s why the British government and the U.S.-based East-West Center sponsored the television series.

MAN (through translator): Do you think the trial has gone well? The process has been pretty impressive. I have supported it because I was one of the victims. I was in prison under the regime.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Matthew Robinson was hired to produce the court series.

MATTHEW ROBINSON, television producer: We had to devise a language and to base our understanding of what was going on in the court that would be intelligible to people who — whose basic knowledge of — of legal proceedings, indeed, court proceedings, is minimal indeed.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The program has also urged viewers to engage in more dialogue about the trial and about the genocide.

NEWS ANCHOR (through translator): Thanks to everyone here for this discussion of Duch’s trial.

NEWS ANCHOR (through translator): We hope that this will encourage you at home to talk together about this topic so vital to Cambodia’s future well-being and progress.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Those conversations aren’t easy, says Robinson.

MATTHEW ROBINSON: I mean, anybody from 25 down are not so much skeptical about it, but they lack knowledge. And parents seem to be reluctant, maybe even embarrassed, to — to talk about what happened to them.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Youk Chhang, who survived the Khmer Rouge killing fields, wants to make sure young people get the knowledge they need, even if their parents won’t talk about it.

YOUK CHHANG, director, Documentation Center of Cambodia: This is the textbook for grade nine and 12.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He’s director of the Cambodia Documentation Center, which has published a textbook that is now in the hands of one million Cambodian students.

YOUK CHHANG: Start from the creation of the Khmer Rouge movement all the way to the fall of the Khmer Rouge in ’79.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Most kids growing up in this country have never learned about it?

YOUK CHHANG: They never learned about this, but they heard about this. Right now, for the first time in 30 years, from grade 9 through 12, also the foundation year of every single university, allowed to study Khmer Rouge history.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The verdict and sentencing are expected in early June, six months after final arguments ended and two years after the trial began. Youk Chhang hopes it will help the country move on.

YOUK CHHANG: The court helped to put the past behind, and that gives us the direction we are going to be turning next for the future. And the court put the past into perspective, so that we can learn from it.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Survivors, like Van Nath, hope it brings justice.

VAN NATH (through translator): The verdict should be balancing what Duch has done, how many people he killed and how many he caused suffering. For me, I can’t forgive.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Eric Stover says the court, by example, can be an important building block for the future of this country, still recovering from years of war and genocide.

ERIC STOVER: People will have basic needs and need to be attended to, but, if you’re going to have real progress, you also put in the infrastructure for democracy, infrastructure for the rule of law, infrastructure that will support human rights, because, without that, you will always be in an uphill battle.

Fred de Sam Lazaro: The tribunal’s next case will be a joint trial for four elderly defendants. It’s expected to start in 2012.

JIM LEHRER: Fred’s reporting is in partnership with the Undertold Stories project at Saint John’s University in Minnesota.

 

Vietnamese-American Entrepreneurs Seek Opportunity in Homeland

vietnam girlsThirty-five years after the United States military pulled out of Vietnam, some Vietnamese-American entrepreneurs are returning to their homeland. Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on the growing business opportunities in the Vietnamese economy. Click here to watch the video »

 

 

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: From his office, software entrepreneur Victor Luu has a view of the Saigon Airport, a daily reminder of how he escaped from his native country at the end of the Vietnam War.

VICTOR LUU, software entrepreneur: There have two active runway, OK? And you see next to those hangars there’s a taxiway. I took off from that taxiway.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: On April 28, 1975, 23-year-old Luu was in the scramble to evacuate on the last remaining American military aircraft, hours before North Vietnamese soldiers took the city and unified a divided nation into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

VICTOR LUU: So, the pilot had to zigzag and to take off.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Like tens of thousands of Vietnamese loyal to the American-backed South, who fled after the war ended, Victor Luu became a refugee in America. He never dreamed he would be back so soon, he says, but the Soviet Union collapsed, and the Internet began shrinking the world.

VICTOR LUU: The third thing is, Vietnam opened up and joined WTO.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Vietnam’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2007 capped a 15-year transition from a Soviet-style, socialized economy. It sparked robust growth, over 7 percent for several years, until the global recession in 2009.

Luu got a six-year tax break from the Vietnamese government to move some of his California-based business here. He found a wealth of capable, educated workers who adapted quickly to a capitalist, global system.

VICTOR LUU: They are a very quick learner, and they have a lot of these Ph.D.s, went to Russia studying, and came back with very high degree in math, artificial intelligence. And these are the people that end up in our company.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: One floor down from Luu’s office, in another Vietnamese-American-owned firm, 100 video game artists and engineers program games that will soon show up on American and European store shelves. The workers are a postwar generation.

VICTOR LUU: Most of our people here, the average age was born after 1975. They have no idea about the conflict.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Those who do have an idea about the conflict, the victorious communist-led government, used to brand people who left as traitors. But, today, those who return are welcomed back, many as investors.

Andrew Lam was 11 when he left with his family in 1975. He’s now a San Francisco-based journalist and author of a book on the overseas Vietnamese experience.

ANDREW LAM, journalist: The people who belong to so-called the losing side are connected internationally. You know, uncle will send money home, and the son will start a little shop. If he’s good, it might turn into a chain, especially when Vietnam was very impoverished. You know, there’s been estimating which, you know, Vietnamese overseas sends back money that was at one point considered about 16 percent of the GNP.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Overseas Vietnamese may be welcomed for their business acumen and American education, but Vietnam remains a tightly controlled society, with reminders everywhere that the Communist Party remains all-powerful.

Nguyen Qui Duc, from a prominent South Vietnamese family, fled when he was 17. He became a journalist and had come back over the years to report from Vietnam. But when he decided to move here permanently three years ago, he discovered what he calls extreme suspicion.

NGUYEN QUI DUC, journalist: I never got a journalist visa. And they assumed that you must work for a spy agency if you speak English. And, because I speak other languages, I have lived overseas in many parts of the world.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Nguyen decided to stay on anyway. Like an estimated 3,000 other overseas Vietnamese, he opened a business. Nguyen opened a bar in Hanoi, a venue for music and book readings, a hangout for many Vietnamese-Americans.

MAN: But you were born in the States, right?

BENNY TRAN, The Clinton Foundation: Yes.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Benny Tran works here for the Clinton Foundation on HIV issues. His brother, Ben, is a college professor in Tennessee and a frequent visitor.

BENNY TRAN: The irony is that we know Vietnam better than our parents.

MAN: Why?

BENNY TRAN: We know the current Vietnam. I mean, they are actually right now, as we speak, as we sit here, they’re on a tour of Northern Vietnam. They have never…

MAN: … been back before.

BENNY TRAN: They have never been north of — outside of Saigon.

MAN: My parents’ generation, they just don’t want to have anything to do with this regime and this government. And they always discourage their children from participating in returning. And, yet, I see that it’s their children who return and become very active in playing a central role in changing Vietnam.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Yet, there’s growing concern that much of the economic change, the business investment, is taking place in big cities, and creating an elite increasingly removed from the rural areas, where 70 percent of the population lives.

It’s in those rural areas that social entrepreneur Diep Vuong found her calling. She’s trying to protect young women from being sold into prostitution. Although the poverty rate has dropped significantly, to 12 percent, Vietnam remains a major source of women trafficked into the sex trade in Southeast Asia.

Vuong started a foundation to educate women like these to make them less vulnerable to traffickers. This group is among 25 who have been housed and trained in culinary school in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. And near Vietnam’s border with Cambodia, Vuong’s staff runs a shelter and provides hundreds of scholarships to keep girls in school.

They also watch out for families in crisis that might be exploited. The day we visited, Vuong dropped by the home of one scholarship recipient, 14-year-old Nyugen and her 6-year-old sister, Nyan, who live with their elderly grandparents.

These girls’ widowed mother works in a factory in the city. She’s away most of the year, a common occurrence in poor rural households. Vuong is worried that these girls have been going to see their mother during the school holidays.

WOMAN (through translator): There are a lot of kidnappings there. You cannot let them go to the city.

DIEP VUONG, Pacific Links Foundation: The mother, being 36, may be not at risk, but the little girl going to Saigon, where the mother has no time to take care of her, will be at extreme risk.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Of being kidnapped and trafficked?

DIEP VUONG: Of being kidnapped, being tricked, and trafficked, yes.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: She warned the grandparents of the dangers, and is trying to find a way to bring the girls’ mother home more often. Vuong raises most of the money to support her foundation in the United States, where she landed as a high school kid in 1980, fleeing Vietnam with her family on a boat.

DIEP VUONG: I did relatively well in school and whatnot, and I realize that that few months of statelessness was enough for me to — to want to do something.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: A good student from a well-to-do family, Vuong went on to a Harvard education and a prosperous career in Silicon Valley with her husband. She considers herself American, but has a strong tug to Vietnam.

DIEP VUONG: I always remember my mother saying to us that we were born Vietnamese for a reason, and it is up to us to figure out what that reason is.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Nguyen plans to stay in Vietnam, and, in his own small way, says he pushes for more open exchanges of political ideas, something that he says has attracted the attention of authorities.

NGUYEN QUI DUC: I have people coming in here ranging from the diplomatic community, some ambassadors who come into here. I have had people work on human rights issues come in here.

So, they give me a bit of extra attention. I live with that, and I don’t let it bother me too much. But I think I am pushing some envelopes. I am talking about issues that are generally not talked about, like human rights, like democracy.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Software entrepreneur Luu stays at arm’s length from such issues, but he hears other people wondering what path Vietnam should take.

VICTOR LUU: People around here also look at a place like Thailand and say, well, they have democracy. It’s a big mess. That is something that the next generation have to define it.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Journalist Lam worries that the only ideology being offered the new generation is that making money is what it’s all about.

ANDREW LAM: I think that, for a country that is ruled by materialism, it inevitably loses its moral compass. And Vietnam has always been a spiritual country. This is how they fought against the French, the Chinese. It’s a kind of sacrifice for the greater good. And that has completely disappeared.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: On Vietnam’s streets, the communist-era slogans continue to praise workers and peasants, signature of the party elders still in charge, the last generation with ties to the war. But the clearest message from Vietnam today seems to be: open for business.

 


Ethiopia’s Farming Investment

JEFFREY BROWN: Now a story of unlikely abundance in a land known for hunger and the questions that is raising.
Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: For decades, Ethiopia has been synonymous with chronic famine and hunger. Even today, at least five million people depend on food aid to survive.

But a growing number of foreign investors are discovering a little-known fact about this East African nation: Ethiopia has vast acres of fertile, arable land.

MAN: I want to welcome you all, particularly our guests from Japan and Pakistan and India.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Recently, in the capital, Addis Ababa, local officials for a Saudi investor announced a partnership to vastly expand a commercial farm in western Ethiopia, aiming to produce a million tons of rice per year.

MAN: For us, it is a cornerstone. I think others will follow as well.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Others will likely come, and still others have already come. Over the past two years, by some estimates, 50 million acres of African farmland was leased to foreigners, most from the Middle East and Asia, for up to 99 years. That’s about twice the arable land in all of Germany.

The cost to lease land in Ethiopia is cheap, and there’s lots of it. So, why aren’t local farmers growing more?

Esayas Kebede, with the government’s agriculture investment agency, says they use only a fraction of the 180 million acres of land, and lack the technology needed.

ESAYAS KEBEDE, Ethiopian ministry of agriculture: The productivity is very low due to technology. Most of our farmers are plowing with ox.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That’s in sharp contrast to the carefully irrigated and fertilized commercial farms, like this one owned by a Saudi group. It raises specialized crops, melons, green beans, radishes, artichokes. Three hundred people work here. Most are subsistence farmers themselves. And, for some, employment has improved life, even allowed for a bit of dreaming.

EMA TAFA, Ethiopia (through translator): Previously, we can’t afford vegetables. It used to be a novelty. Now we eat them regularly. I would like to invest in my kids’ education. I never got an education. That’s why I’m in the state I’m in today.

ADEGNEW ABEB, Ethiopia (through translator): I’m continuing to receive knowledge. If I’m lucky enough to get married, I will start a family and, hopefully, with some seed money, start a farm like this one.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: There’s one big problem that some economists and government opponents see with all of this. They say the benefit to ordinary Ethiopians is minimal. To begin, all of the produce is intended for supermarkets in rich countries, in this case, Dubai.

Merera Gudina is political science professor and member of the opposition Oromo People’s party. He likens it to a colonial arrangement.

MERERA GUDINA, opposition leader: Food is growing — is grown on your land. And you don’t — you simply see, but don’t eat. Where is it going? It’s not for the local consumption.

He says the government of longtime Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who took power in 1992, has given land away to favored investors, that it hasn’t arranged for proper compensation, bolstered employment, or managed to keep some of the food at home.

MERERA GUDINA: For example, proper compensation to the local people, in terms of bringing real employment to the local people, and also in terms of retaining the food, some of the food for internal consumption.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Instead, he says, commercial farms displace small peasant growers and herders. He cited a 17,000-acre farm near the western town of Bako. It’s been leased to an Indian company, which is planting corn. These small farmers say this development has come entirely at their expense.

How many people used to farm on land that’s now farmed by the commercial farm?

Wedajo Gonana spoke for the group.

WEDAJO GONANA, farmer (through translator): This land has been in our families for centuries. We were growing oil seeds, tafe and grain for our animals to sustain ourselves. They offer jobs only to those who would accept 10 birr. They raised it from seven birr.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That wage, fairly common on commercial farms, is well below a dollar a day. And even though it’s more than most subsistence farmers earn, these men say it’s hardly enough to improve life in their impoverished community.

WEDAJO GONANA (through translator): They swindled us. They promised roads, schools, water and whatnot. But the only evidence we saw is when they wanted this piece of land for a road, they came in with excavators and created huge mounds. It was extremely muddy, and it was hard to get around.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The company declined to participate in this story. However, the government’s Kebede took strong issue with allegations that people are being kicked off their land.

ESAYAS KEBEDE: It is false. You know, it’s false.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Kebede says, for the most part, the government is leasing acres that have never been farmed. He also argues that the open market already has caused wages to rise on some commercial farms. And he says you can’t ask profit-oriented investors to work in development to tackle a community’s social problems. That’s a joint responsibility, he says.

ESAYAS KEBEDE: Because, you know, the investor has not come in for heaven. They are coming in for profit. Our problem is resolved by our community. The problem is resolved by our government. The development is coming with — jointly with the community, with the government, and with the investor

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Nebiyu Samuel, spokesman for a prominent Saudi investor, agrees

NEBIYU SAMUEL, investor representative: I will be very frank. At the outset, I said we are here you know to do business.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: However, he says his company’s investment will bring lots of development benefits: new infrastructure, for example, in a country that sorely needs it.

NEBIYU SAMUEL: Recently, we just ordered close to 1,000 trucks from Volvo. And we’re going to be utilizing it hopefully to transport this production. People are going to get involved in that sector.

And then the other attending jobs around that, the fuel suppliers, the food suppliers, the restaurants man, the hotel man, I mean, it’s immense in terms of employment and job opportunities. And this is — this is where people can really think positive, rather than saying, oh, money is coming from outside.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Many experts say Africa’s vast pastures could be the world’s next breadbasket. They say the world’s supply of arable land is dwindling due to urban development, climate changes and soil degradation.

Lamourdia Thiombiano of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization says African land leases could work if handled correctly.

So, this is a potential win-win situation, is what you’re saying?

LAMOURDIA THIOMBIANO, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization: Absolutely.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: But he says the history of deals with foreigners for natural resources in Africa is not reassuring.

LAMOURDIA THIOMBIANO: They don’t respect, for instance, the indigenous living conditions. They don’t treat the people who are in this land appropriately. They don’t have any gain. All the timbers and all the goods are removed from the forests, destroying the environment, polluting the land’s water.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: His agency is drawing up a code of conduct to make such farmland deals more equitable to all parties. The document will merely be advisory, but he says it will shine a spotlight on the biggest scramble for African land since this continent was colonized.

 

Acumen Fund’s New Kind of Capitalism

woman smiling towards camera in front of a shop A report on social entrepreneur and Acumen Fund founder Jacqueline Novogratz. She’s developed a new idea called “patient capital”, that is funding innovative approaches in tackling some of the worlds most entrenched social problems. Tonight, a look at one man’s vision for cleaner and greener public toilets in Kenya. It’s part one of our two part series. Click here to watch the video »

 

JIM LEHRER: Finally tonight: a story about toilets, investment bankers, and the poorest of the poor in the slums of Kenya. Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: A poverty- and disease-ridden Kenyan slum isn’t exactly something that whets the appetite of most investment bankers.

DAVID KURIA, entrepreneur: This was the toilet. We just demolished this and that and this.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: But it’s exactly the kind of project Jacqueline Novogratz is looking to finance. Novogratz has an MBA from Stanford and works in New York City, not far form banking’s movers and shakers. But she leads a team at the Acumen Fund that’s invested some $40 million to support enterprises that serve the poor. With donations from 200 philanthropic individuals and organizations, they have invested in a dairy farm in Pakistan, a mosquito net factory in Tanzania or a seed factory in Kenya. It’s a new approach to venture capital. She calls it patient capital, an investment that pays off slowly, that encourages profit, not excessive profit. She insists this middle way will work better in today’s globalized economy.
JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ, CEO, Acumen Fund: If our current situation teaches us anything, it’s that unfettered, unbridled capitalism isn’t working, certainly not in interconnected worlds, where we need to find ways to include everyone into the global economy. And, on the other hand, charity alone typically can reach low-income people, but often not at any level of scale, and, too often, it creates dependence, rather than a sense of dignity.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: She’s spread the word far and wide that private capital can bring public change. She talked to a book club in Nairobi about those slum toilets.
JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ: Think about toilets. We need a public sanitation system that will sustain itself. We don’t have to depend on the government alone to do it. We can create a model that we can own.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: She found architect David Kuria had the same idea. He had been trying to solve the toilet problem for years.
DAVID KURIA: The issue of sanitation, to me, is one of the most complicated issue dealing with the community, because it’s a behavioral issue. There are cultural issues and barriers, and also a lot of perception, in terms of, this is a service. According to our people, it needs to be free. It’s not free, because you still have to pay in terms of cost of medicine, or even death, when you’re talking about typhoid and cholera outbreaks.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Those diseases have been all too real in Kenya.
DAVID KURIA: Last year alone, we had about 300 deaths of cholera recorded in Nairobi, and the highest was the slum.
JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ: Well, and this is where people don’t make the connection enough between sanitation and health.
DAVID KURIA: Hygiene and their health.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In slums like this one, people for generations have lived without functioning or sometimes even indoor toilets. They use the bush or streets instead.
DAVID KURIA: And everything flows. There is no septic. There’s no sewer system. So, everything flows to the river, downstream, yes.
JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ: Well, and you can see the kids play right in…
DAVID KURIA: Yes.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Kuria thinks the only solution is to charge for the toilets, to make them pay for themselves. But the idea was a tough sell, not just with people in slums, who weren’t used to paying for it. He ran into problems getting land and licenses. And nine banks refused him financing. Then came the Acumen Fund. After a year teaching him how to design a business plan, the fund invested $600,000. And Kuria deliberately chose not to market to poor people at first, but to show the toilets were worthy of Kenya’s wealthiest.
DAVID KURIA: So, what I did was to start in the upper market, you know, outside Hilton, near our parliament, you know, for high, high-class people. And that’s where I started with putting the first model, purely to be able to influence the mentality and thinking. That became a bit easier than selling eco-toilet as a product for the poor.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Every day, 35,000 people come through this toilet in Nairobi’s Central Business District and 35 others, paying just five shillings, or about 7 U.S. cents, per visit.
Rent from a convenience store and shoe shine stands helps make the enterprises profitable. Piped-in music is but one surprise that greets the user of this eco-toilet. It’s spotless, uses very little water, a lot of it collected rainwater. Wastes are recycled into fertilizer and methane gas. But the acid test of the model is in a new one open in Mathare, one of Nairobi’s most violent and depressed slums.
JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ: So, David you were trying different pricing models. In Nairobi…
DAVID KURIA: Yes.
JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ: … you charge five shillings. And, here, you thought, well, we will charge three?
DAVID KURIA: We ended up developing a monthly card, which each family buys for 100 shillings. That’s about $1.20, yes, for the entire family.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Pricing is just one of the challenges for the slum branch. Ethnic tension, which flared up in deadly violence in 2006, still simmers. And lawlessness keeps people indoors after dark. Kuria wants to stage events in this area to make it feel safe at night. And he has invited a local group to form a committee to help run the facility.
JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ: So, what did you have to do to convince the community?
WOMAN: We were educating them about the cleanness, about the diseases.
JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ: And so how many people are now using the toilets? Ninety-eight per day?
DAVID KURIA: Families.
WOMAN: Families.
JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ: Ninety-eight families?
WOMAN: Yes.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Kuria needs 200 people to make this toilet break-even. He’s halfway there, but his goal is more than just money.
DAVID KURIA: To me, I think my ultimate goal is more for social transformation. I see myself purely as a change agent and change-maker, and trying to really provoke a lot of really debate at different levels, from the community level, whether it’s from the business community level and also from the political level.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Novogratz eventually wants the toilets, indeed, all of her investments, to reach not just hundreds of thousands, but hundreds of millions.
JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ: It’s going to be a combination of private sector resources, philanthropy, certainly to get it started, and ultimately government.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In the next several months, David Kuria hopes to be up to 100 toilets. He’s branching out to Tanzania and Uganda as well.
JIM LEHRER: Fred’s report is part of our collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
In his next piece from Kenya, Fred looks at another investment by the Acumen Fund into safe, affordable housing in Nairobi’s slums.

 

Jimmy Carter Campaigns to End Guinea Worm Disease

two people outside of a cone shaped hut Former President Jimmy Carter is leading a campaign to eradicate Guinea Worm from remote Southern Sudan. Click here to watch the video.

No transcript available.

 

 

Out of the Slums

kenyan children playing jumpropeCorrespondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports from Kenya on new efforts to help poor residents of Nairobi’s crowded, unsanitary slums find adequate housing through entrepreneurship and microfinancing. Click here to watch the video »

 

 

JEFFREY BROWN: And now to Kenya and a story about helping the poorest of the poor find homes and hope.

Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In the shadow of one of Africa’s most modern cities, the sprawl of slums. Almost two million of Nairobi’s three million residents are jammed into just 5 percent of the land.

They have come from the country’s rural areas. Tens of thousands have poured in from neighboring Somalia. And most ended up in slums like Mathare, desperate, unsafe, unsanitary places that lack the most basic amenities. Poverty is so entrenched that families have lived here for two, even three generations.

JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ, CEO, Acumen Fund: So beautiful.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That was the case with Jane Ngoiri, one of a small, but promising community of former slum dwellers who found a way to escape.

Ngoiri showed Jacqueline Novogratz around her new home recently. Novogratz heads the New York-based Acumen Fund, which invests private capital in entrepreneurial projects to help the poor, like the community where Ngoiri lives.

JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ: I love the color. This is so great, freshwater, clean.

JANE NGOIRI, Kenya: Freshwater, clean. Beans, spinach, onions. There are beans.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: A third-generation slum dweller, Jane Ngoiri has running water inside her home for the first time in her life.

JANE NGOIRI: Then I open the top, no struggling.

JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ: No struggling. No buckets outdoors.

JANE NGOIRI: Yes.

I have no stress. I have a kitchen. If I want to eat, well, I can manage. So, for stress, I don’t have.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Ngoiri, who is HIV-positive, used to be a prostitute, but sewing classes opened up a whole new world. She began buying up old clothes to recycle into children’s dresses that she now sells.

JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ: This is beautiful.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Even with a stable and increasing income, buying a home is normally out of the question for someone like Jane Ngoiri.

JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ: It’s very difficult to get any access to bank credit, as Jane, for instance, HIV-positive, ex-prostitute who does informal tailoring and lives in Mathare with no legal address, not exactly your perfect candidate for a bank.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: So Jane Ngoiri turned to a micro-finance group called Jamii Bora, which gives housing loans to low-income people. They must demonstrate the ability to handle credit and save money regularly, as Ngoiri did by saving for a down payment and paying back a sewing machine loan.

Impressed by its sound lending practices, Novogratz decided to invest $250,000 Acumen Fund dollars in Jamii Bora.

JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ: Jamii Bora is extraordinary in that it is completely based in the community. Jamii Bora now has people with seven, eight years of credit experience who are repaying on a regular basis, who buy — using incrementally larger loans, have increased their businesses to the point where they are making four or five or six dollars a day, and where they can afford to buy a house, if you can structure the mortgage for a long enough time so that the monthly payments are equal to or less than the monthly payments that people were making in the slums.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In other words, by stretching out the length of the mortgage, Jane Ngoiri pays the same here for her house as she did for renting one room in the Mathare slum. She saved for five years to make the down payment of 10 percent.

Her home is in the suburb of Kaputei, a new development of affordable, ecologically friendly homes that Jamii Bora built from scratch. Community members are helped by some engineering experts, but they do much of the building themselves. They even make the bricks and roof tiles here.

MAN: This is our new town, the general layout plan. What we have, we have a composite of eight neighborhoods. And, in between, we will have our light industry, our markets, our police stations, and all other social amenities.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: So far, they have built 700 homes.

For all its successes, the town has far to go. The local economy is not yet able to sustain itself. And the road to markets in Nairobi is in bad shape. They hope such services and development will eventually come, especially if the government decides to help.

Novogratz sees Kaputei as a model for housing developments worldwide, one that can be scaled up to serve many more than the 2,000 families planned here. But, to her, it is a reminder of another critical element in helping the poor.

JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ: We need hope in the world. And that you can move people from Mathare to houses like that, that are cheerful and airy, with bathrooms, and have those sunflowers standing right there, to me, was almost a sign of, you have just got to keep going, and that we scale these, we have the numbers, but don’t forget the hope, because we need that in the world, too.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Jane herself is full of hope for the next generation.

JANE NGOIRI: Now my first one, she is in high school. She’s in the fourth year. She will complete her high school in this year. So, she says she would come — she would like to become a doctor, a surgeon. And I hope she will.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And perhaps the most hopeful sign that housing developments like this can work is that, last year, Jamii Bora paid back its entire loan to the Acumen Fund.

 

South Africa Looks For Economic Boost From Hosting Cup

fredAs Johannesburg prepares for the first match of the World Cup, Ray Suarez talks to Fred de Sam Lazaro about how hosting the world’s biggest sporting event is playing out in South Africa. Click here to watch the video »

 

 

JIM LEHRER: Ray Suarez talked to Fred after he sent that report earlier today.

RAY SUAREZ: Fred, welcome.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Thank you, Ray.

RAY SUAREZ: We have just seen your report on all the work that South Africa has done to prepare for the World Cup. How much is this costing the country in all.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It’s costing South Africa approximately $6 billion in just stadium construction and — and renovation. It’s taken 10 stadiums to — to put this tournament together, and that is just the cost of bringing those up to — up to standard and, in some cases, just building them from scratch. So, it’s a substantial amount of money for a country with the size of economy that South Africa has.

RAY SUAREZ: In such a poor country, with such a tremendous gap between rich and poor, is there a national debate over whether this was worth doing in the first place?

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Indeed, and it will go on for a long time. These are things that are debated in much richer countries as well, that is to say, the virtue of holding such events and what they bring to the host country.

Now, this, of course, is the very first time that such a huge event, the world’s largest sporting event, is held in — on the continent of Africa. And, in terms of the intangibles, what it brings to this continent, that is where people see benefit that is difficult to measure.

Will it mean that this country, if it pulls it off well, will attract investment, will change its image, for example? It’s also very much a Pan-African event, as it’s being marketed, at any rate. We will see no fewer than 22 African heads of state show up for the opening ceremonies for the World Cup.

So, it’s a big deal for Africa. And how you measure that dividend is a very good question. In straight revenues to South Africa, tourists, 350-odd-thousand of them, 370,000, will pour in probably a couple of billion dollars. It won’t recoup the stadium costs, but there will be some revenue to the tourist economy here.

RAY SUAREZ: This may not be something that gets a simple yes-no, black-and-white reaction, because some of South Africa’s poorest people are among its most rabid soccer fans.

But are there those who are glad the World Cup is there and worry about all that money being spent on it at the same time?

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Exactly. And it all depends on where you happen to be in the grand scheme of things.

There are a number of homeowners who were asked to prepare their homes, spiff their homes up, and they spent a lot of money to do that, in expectation that there would be people coming to stay with them as house guests.

In many cases, that has not materialized. It’s a bit disappointing. FIFA, the world soccer federation, has a very good deal for it negotiated with the South African government. The government has taken quite a — quite a bit of criticism for selling out too cheaply, for example.

So, it all depends on — on who you are, in terms of what you will get out of this at the very grassroots, personal level. There aren’t many vendors around stadiums, for example, because they’re not allowed under the FIFA rules for hosting this tournament here.

But, yes, it’s all across the board. What there is at this juncture is a great deal of fever, South Africans coming together, a great deal of national pride. And, at least for the sporting value, for the event, there is a great deal of enthusiasm. And that’s pretty unanimous.

RAY SUAREZ: As you mentioned, this is the first time the World Cup has come to South Africa. Is there both a desire among everyday South Africans to show the country off to the world and demonstrate that they can manage such an extensive task as holding the World Cup?

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: There’s a lot of breath being held — there are a lot of breaths being held that this goes without too many hitches. There have been a few odd mishaps.

There was a well-known — or a well-publicized robbery last night. They apprehended some suspects. There’s a great deal of nervousness and nimbleness on the part of law enforcement to show that this will go off very smoothly.

We’re also going to have a number of people, you know, helping the visitors out. I mean, it — they are rolling the red carpet out to put — put on the Sunday best in this country.

RAY SUAREZ: Now, if this goes off without a hitch, can it solidify the domestic position of the recently elected President Jacob Zuma? He’s had his problems, hasn’t he?

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He’s had his problems, and there may be a momentary bump that comes from the visibility in which he will be greeting all of these heads of state. He will be in the ceremonial events.

But he’s been plagued by all manner of scandal, as I pointed out in the report a little earlier. But, beyond that, there are domestic problems and a great deal of unhappiness among people who voted and supported — voted for and supported him for not delivering on promises like bringing jobs to the economy.

The economy has lost jobs under his tenure, which hasn’t been very long. So, Jacob Zuma has a lot of work to do, is not perceived as being a very strong leader right now. And, if he gets any bump out of this event, it will be a very momentary and fleeting one.

RAY SUAREZ: Our Fred de Sam Lazaro joining us from Johannesburg, South Africa — good to talk to you, Fred.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It’s good to talk with you, Ray.

 


World Cup Invigorates South African National Pride

JIM LEHRER: Next: the World Cup of soccer in South Africa.

A star-studded cast took the stage at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto tonight. Tens of thousands sang, danced and waved flags at the opening concert. The month-long tournament begins tomorrow on a continent and in a country that will be playing host for the first time to the world’s largest sporting event.

In South Africa’s capital, fans are streaming in, including Vice President and Mrs. Biden, Brazilian soccer legend Pele, and fans and journalists from around the world.

Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro begins our coverage with this report from Johannesburg.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: For the 370,000 tourists who will attend the World Cup, South Africa will present a glitzy, modern face, a brand-new bullet train into town from Johannesburg Airport, fancy cars on broad freeways to booming suburbs.

There’s even a new mall in the historically black township of Soweto, also infected with soccer fever. Not long ago, the only blacks in places like these would have been cleaning them. But, today, few South Africans of any color could match the consumer appetite and buying power of Tim Tebeila, one of the new class of black industrialists.

He arrived the other day to check on the progress of a new multimillion-dollar home he’s building.

MAN: I’m still waiting for the Italian chandeliers to come in that you chose.

TIM TEBEILA, industrialist: Yes.

MAN: And I think it weighs, what, one-and-a-half tons?

TIM TEBEILA: Well, I’m blessed. That’s what I can say.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Tim Tebeila, son of a preacher and housewife, grew up in humble circumstances, like most black South Africans. He joined the African National Congress, the ANC, which was banned for fighting apartheid.

Racial segregation officially excluded the 85 percent black majority from all but the most menial jobs in an economy based on diamonds, platinum, and gold that gave the white minority one of the world’s highest standards of living.

MAN: Please raise your right hand and say, so help me God.

NELSON MANDELA, former South African president: So help me God.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The struggle culminated in the 1990 release of ANC leader Nelson Mandela, after 27 years of imprisonment. He was elected president of a new democratic multiracial Republic of South Africa in 1994.

TIM TEBEILA: My business career in 1994, I can say, has improved dramatically.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Tim Tebeila was trained as a teacher, but says he’s a natural salesman who quickly found success in the insurance business. By 1995, with the new government came new opportunities.

TIM TEBEILA: I then established a company called Tebeila Building Construction. Now, that was also in response to a new trend — new trend in government in terms of trying to empower the blacks and to advance particular policies.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Tebeila went on to acquire the rights to vast holdings of South Africa’s rich coal deposits. He’s one of the earlier and most successful beneficiaries of new and increasingly sweeping policies to increase black participation in the economy: more ownership of shares in industry, affirmative action in hiring and training, and more government contracts.

But, to many experts, Tim Tebeila is one of all too few success stories.

Aubrey Matshiqi is a political scientist at a Johannesburg-based think tank.

AUBREY MATSHIQI, political scientist: South Africa has become one of the most unequal societies in the world. In fact, in the past, prior to 1994, the inequality was between black and white. But, today, inequality has taken both an interracial and an intra-racial dimension.

So, you have black people who have benefited quite a lot since 1994, but you still have the majority who are still plagued by conditions of poor social and economic conditions.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In fact, black unemployment in South Africa hovers around 27 percent, if you don’t count people who have completely dropped out of the work force.

Meanwhile, whites, 12 percent of South Africa’s 50 million people, still occupy nearly 80 percent of all professional jobs. White unemployment is around 5 percent. Whites have lost jobs in the public sector, mostly to blacks, many to ANC members. They have also lost some private industry jobs because of affirmative action.

There’s been particularly stiff resistance to the so-called black empowerment programs among conservative Afrikaner farmers, descendants of Dutch or Boer immigrants who were the backbone of the apartheid regime. They complain about pressure to sell to or partner with blacks, and they point to violent attacks that have taken place on their farms.

ANDRIES STEYN, farmer: They are trying to take the farms and all that sort of things. If you put them together, there’s only one conclusion you can get to, and that is, they want the whites out of this country.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: John Duncan Prinsloo a farmer and veterinarian, has decided to sell his farm, the result of a tragedy that struck late in 2009. Armed robbers broke through his security system and killed his wife of 34 years, Leticia. Prinsloo himself hasn’t recovered from gunshot wounds to his back.

JOHN DUNCAN PRINSLOO, farmer: I want to be able to move around in this country and do my work and be productive in this country, without having to walk around with a firearm in my — in my pocket, without having to stay in a house. Look, this is a bloody jail, man. It’s not a house. This is a jail.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Crime, which used to be confined to the black townships, now indeed is rampant throughout the country, with 50 homicides daily, despite the government’s tripling its spending on tackling the problem.

And that’s not the only tough issue facing the post-apartheid country. All South Africans complain about the declining quality of public services, police and government workers falling down on the job, underperforming schools, and universities that don’t turn out enough and qualified black candidates for skilled jobs.

Jenny Cargill is the author of a new book on the country’s black empowerment programs.

JENNY CARGILL, author: We didn’t link our empowerment policies with education. Government is also responsible for the delivery of these targets that business has been given, because they must improve the education services, and they must produce the graduates.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Even the empowerment programs that created new wealth are becoming difficult to crack.

NONHLANHLA MTHETHWA, businesswoman: Corruption. Corruption kills me. I actually get emotional.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Nonhlanhla Mthethwa and her husband, Peace, run an events management business. They have benefited from some contracts, called tenders here, but she says they feel increasingly shut out.

NONHLANHLA MTHETHWA: For you to be able to make it as a black person, you need to know somebody that — including the tenders — that require a status today. You need to know somebody that could award that, so you can get that tender. And, hence, that’s why you discover that a lot of contracts and tenders, everything else today has failed in South Africa because you have to know somebody to get it, not because you can deliver a service.

JENNY CARGILL: The general perception among people — and the evidence seems to be building on it — is that it’s not a question of just being black. It’s a question of being connected. And it really is a select few that are politically well-placed that are gaining access to the licenses and to the contracts.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Some analysts worry that corruption has become pervasive in the public sector.

Lumkili Mondi, economist for a semi-public company that promotes industrial development, blames a lack of leadership.

LUMKILI MONDI, economist: The leadership we have in (INAUDIBLE) party for me leaves a lot to be desired.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Current President Jacob Zuma survived a corruption trial on a technicality just months before taking office. He’s been plagued since by ongoing stories of marital infidelity in an already polygamist marriage, which is legal in South Africa. He has three wives.

LUMKILI MONDI: It all talks to a lack of long-term vision, the leadership, because people respond to what they see at the top.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: But he and others predict people will sooner or later respond as voters. The African National Congress, though still popular as the party of Mandela, the one that delivered the country from apartheid, will suffer from its complacency, says analyst Aubrey Matshiqi.

AUBREY MATSHIQI: Change is inevitable. So, when President Jacob Zuma argues that the ANC will be in power until the second coming of Christ, my interpretation is that that’s one of the most optimistic things President Zuma can say, because it means Jesus Christ will be with us much sooner than we think.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Coming more predictably is the opening match of the tournament. It’s brought South Africans together like no event before.

TIM TEBEILA: FIFA 10 has brought all races, all nations in South Africa together, more than anything else. The spirit is different altogether. This, we have never experienced it before.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: South Africans can only wonder whether and how long it will last beyond the World Cup, which concludes on July 11.

 


Doctor Stresses Intuition of Touch, Not Technology

JIM LEHRER: Finally tonight: a doctor’s call to healing.

Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro talks to author and physician Abraham Verghese.

A version of this story aired on PBS’ “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.”

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Abraham Verghese has all the credentials and

degrees befitting a professor at Stanford Medical School. But he is best known and acclaimed for his writing — two bestselling memoirs and a new work of fiction that evoke a different kind of medical vocation.

DR. ABRAHAM VERGHESE, author and physician: My desire to be a physician had a lot to do with that sense of medicine as a ministry of healing, not just a science, and not even just a science and an art, but also a calling, also a ministry.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: His goal is to have today’s medical students aspire similarly to a calling, as much as a career in medicine, to awaken a more basic curiosity as they sharpen their clinical acumen. These third-year medical students were studying abnormalities on a scan, specifically the prominence of certain blood vessels

DR. ABRAHAM VERGHESE: This is what’s called pulmonary redistribution. Have you heard that term? It’s an early sign of heart failure. Who’s got good hand veins that I can borrow?

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Verghese offered a simple physics explanation of why blood vessels should not normally be visible above the level of the heart.

DR. ABRAHAM VERGHESE: The level of her right atrium is about here. OK? So watch what happens as I raise her hand. You still see the veins, nice three dimension, right? See how they’re flattening out? They are gone.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The bottom line: Well before an X-ray, a doctor might spot telltale signs of disease.

DR. ABRAHAM VERGHESE: And you see their neck veins, and they’re not coughing, speaking, singing, straining, they have increased venous pressure.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Increasingly, he says students and practitioners of medicine in the West rely on technology, in a system that stresses cognitive knowledge and machines over the skill that comes from touch and feel.

DR. ABRAHAM VERGHESE: I’m the first to admit that the resolution of a hand feeling the belly doesn’t compare with the resolution of a CAT scan scanning the belly, but only my hand can say that it hurts at this spot and not at this spot. Only my hand can say that. Only my hand can say that this pulsatile mass, which might be an aneurysm, is also painful, which is therefore maybe a leaking aneurysm. You know, there are nuances to the exam that no machine is going to give you.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It’s a theme Verghese has sounded repeatedly over

the years, writing in magazines, including The New Yorker and Atlantic, and now in a bestseller called “Cutting For Stone.” It fulfills a long-held desire to write fiction, as he told this book club in Menlo Park, California.

DR. ABRAHAM VERGHESE: Dorothy Allison, wonderful American writer, she says, fiction is the great lie that tells the truth about how the world lives.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The setting for Verghese’s novel is far from Silicon Valley — a mission hospital in Ethiopia. It is a textured 650-page narrative set amid that country’s turmoil in the ’60s and ’70s. Its stories of medicine, doctors and future doctors at the hospital all illustrate what the author calls the samaritan role of the healer.

Verghese went from med school in India to Boston, Tennessee, Texas, then Stanford. He was born and raised in Ethiopia to parents originally from Kerala, India, and from its Syriac Orthodox traditions. Faith was a big part of life for this and other expatriate communities in the Addis Ababa of his youth, which may unwittingly have shape some of the novel’s characters.

WOMAN: You said that what really inspired you to write the book was that you wanted to write a book that would get people interested perhaps in medicine.

DR. ABRAHAM VERGHESE: Yes.

WOMAN: But there was so much in the book about faith…

DR. ABRAHAM VERGHESE: Yes.

WOMAN: .. and different types of faith. And so how did you come to have so much of this — of another theme in your book?

DR. ABRAHAM VERGHESE: Well, you know, the honest answer is that I don’t really know. It all just sort of evolved that way. And I think, when you’re in medicine, you — you — you agonize over matters of faith.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Verghese says most students today enter medical school with the same deep commitment to caring for the sick as the missionaries in his fictional African hospital, but he says that zeal often gets lost in today’s health care system.

DR. ABRAHAM VERGHESE: I joke, but only half-joke, that, if you show up in an American hospital missing a finger, no one will believe you until they get a CAT scan, MRI, and orthopedic consult.

(LAUGHTER)

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: All the emphasis on machines, he says, adds cost to the health care system, and comes at the expense of one of our most important rituals, a visit with one’s doctor.

DR. ABRAHAM VERGHESE: Rituals are about transformation. You know, we marry with great ceremony to signal a transformation. We are baptized in a ritual to signal a transformation.

The ritual of one individual coming to another and confessing to them things they wouldn’t tell their spouse, their preacher, their rabbi, and then even more incredibly, disrobing and allowing touch, which in any other context would be assault, you know, tell me that that’s not a ritual of great significance.

And if we short-change the ritual by not being attentive, or you are inputting into the computer while the patient’s talking to you, you basically are destroying the opportunity for the transformation. And what is a transformation? It’s the sealing of the patient-physician bond.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Ironically, Verghese says, research is emerging that corroborates the importance of this bond, the virtue of the samaritan healer.

DR. ABRAHAM VERGHESE: We’re learning that you can have a powerful effect on patients, or a powerful negative effect on patients, based on context, based on your tone of voice. They are actually associated with significant chemical changes in the brain.

The Parkinson’s patients’ dopamine levels go up with a placebo. We’re now able to show that the words of comfort trigger biological reactions which are the very things that you want, and you can use drugs to get there, or you can use words of comfort to get there, which would make your drugs so much more effective. It’s an incredible insight, and, you know, a couple of decades now of practicing medicine, it’s lovely to come full circle to where I started, but with the science to back it up.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Verghese has already started on his next work of fiction, the story of an elderly small-town doctor in Texas.

 

CAMBODIANS SEE FIRST GENOCIDE SENTENCING

under-told stories logo against green backgroundA U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal handed down its first sentence related to that genocide in Cambodia. Click here to watch the video »

 

 

JEFFREY BROWN: And we turn to a judgment in Cambodia narrated by special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro. He’s been covering the international efforts to bring justice to some of those involved in the killing fields genocide.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Cambodians gathered across the country to watch today’s proceedings in Phnom Penh at homes, cafes and community centers like this one.

NIL NONN, chief judge (through translator): The chamber finds Kaing

Guek Eav guilty.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The former jailer for the communist Khmer Rouge, also known as Duch, watched stone-faced as his sentence was read. The 67-year-old was found guilty of overseeing the deaths of thousands of Cambodians in the late 1970s during the time of the killing fields.

NIL NONN (through translator): The majority of the chamber sentences Kaing Guek Eav to a single sentence of 35 years of imprisonment.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The judges shaved off 16 years for time served and for Duch’s illegal detention in a military prison. It was the first ever verdict rendered by the U.N.-backed tribunal on the Cambodian genocide.

But it sparked anger among survivors and family members who were in the courtroom today, expecting a much longer sentence.

CHUM MEY, S-21 Prison Survivor (through translator): I’m not happy. My people are not happy. I’m angry once again. We suffered once under the Khmer Rouge, and now we are suffering again.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Theary Seng, now an American human rights lawyer, lost both parents at the prison that Duch oversaw.

THEARY SENG, Khmer American Victims Advocate: It comes down to serving 11-and-a-half-hours per life that he took, which is just not comprehensible or acceptable.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Rob Hamill’s brother was one of the few Westerners to die under the regime after his sailboat was captured by the Khmer Rouge in 1978.

ROB HAMILL, Brother of Khmer Rouge Victim Kerry Hamill: All I can say is that my family who are no longer here to see justice would not want to see this man walk free, even if it is in 19 years’ time.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: When Duch’s trial commenced two years ago, few Cambodians knew much about the international court, which has three Cambodian and two foreign judges. Two-thirds of today’s Cambodians weren’t even born when the Khmer Rouge were in power. The regime’s kingpins are either elderly or long dead, including the reclusive leader Pol Pot.

Their genocidal legacy, two million deaths, is memorialized in modest museums visited by Cambodian and foreign tourists. These include Tuol Sleng, the high school Duch supervised when it was converted into a prison, where some 15,000 people died.

Several nongovernment organizations and the court itself launched campaigns to educate the Cambodian public about the legal proceedings. Tens of thousands of citizens and school kids from around the country have been bused in on field trips.

MAN (through translator): Hello, and welcome to the 22nd program in our series “Duch on Trial.”

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And, for several months, as many as two million Cambodians tuned in to a weekly TV show about the Duch trial.

WOMAN (through translator): Now we are going to see a selection of evidence given to the court about some of the crimes with which Duch has been charged.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Like the court, the TV series was funded by international donors.

MAN (through translator): Do you think the trial has gone well?

MAN (through translator): The process has been pretty impressive. I have supported it because I was one of the victims. I was in prison under the regime.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The Khmer Rouge regime fell three decades ago, but the tribunal was slowed, first by Cold War politics and then negotiations with the reluctant Cambodian government, some of whose leaders were young Khmer Rouge lieutenants, although none will stand trial.

Still, Chum Sirath, who helped start a group called the Victims Association, says the court sends an important message.

CHUM SIRATH, Victims Association: When you commit a crime, there will

be people who try to put you — to take you into account. This is one of the lessons that the young generation can learn.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Until recently, young Cambodians were never formally taught Khmer Rouge history.

Youk Chhang, himself a killing fields survivor, has worked to change

that.

YOUK CHHANG, Cambodia Documentation Center: This is the textbook for grade nine and 12.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He is director of the Cambodia Documentation Center, which has published a textbook that is now in the hands of one million Cambodian students.

YOUK CHHANG: Start from the — the creation of the Khmer Rouge movement all the way to the fall of the Khmer Rouge in ’79.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Most kids growing up in this country have never

learned about it.

They never learned about this, but they heard about that.

Youk Chhang hopes this knowledge and the publicity surrounding the court trials will finally help the country move on.

YOUK CHHANG: The court helped to put the past behind. And that give us the direction and we return next to the future. And the court put the past into perspective, so that we can learn from it.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Even though most of Cambodia’s 14 million people struggle more immediately with poverty and economic survival, the international court is a critical building block for a sound, democratic future, says Eric Stover, a California-based human rights scholar who has closely followed the court.

ERIC STOVER, Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley: People will have basic needs and need to be attended to, but if you are going to have real progress, you also put in the infrastructure for democracy, infrastructure for the rule of law, infrastructure that will support human rights, because, without that, you will always be in an uphill battle.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Yesterday, survivors and relatives held a ceremony to remember those who died at the prison. The prosecution and defense have one month to appeal today’s verdict.

Bridging the Technical Divide in Johannesburg
dabba sign

One man’s attempt to bridge the digital divide in one of Johannesburg’s poorest neighborhoods. Click here to watch the video »

 

 

RAY SUAREZ: Now, as the World Cup matches move into the semifinals, we turn to the poorer neighborhoods of Johannesburg, in the shadow of the soccer stadiums.

Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on one man’s efforts to

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Downtown Johannesburg is not in many tourist brochures. It has a reputation for drugs and gang violence.

But Rael Lissoos thinks that is exaggerated. He was happy to take an American television crew around neighborhoods like Hillbrow. Lissoos says this area is inhabited not by gangsters, but ordinary folks struggling to make ends meet. Many are immigrants from other African countries. Most live without one of the most basic tools of modern life.

RAEL LISSOOS, entrepreneur: A lot of these people have not had decent and cheap and affordable access to the Internet or to telephone services.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He says fewer than 1 percent of households here or in South Africa’s rural areas can afford landlines. People are forced to use prepaid cell phones at rates three times what Americans pay for similar service, even though people here earn much less.

Lissoos says the huge fees to connect or terminate calls to even local phone networks hurt South Africa’s competitiveness against countries with much lower telecom rates, like India and China.

RAEL LISSOOS: For us to terminate a call onto a mobile network in China costs a lot less than if someone phoned a landline in that shop down there, a lot less. So, it does show that the (INAUDIBLE) India and China, their telecommunications costs are low, low, low. And look at their growth. Here, we are being exploited. Imagine, someone, they speak for 10 minutes, let’s work it out in dollar terms. Like, 20 minutes is 50 rand, is almost $8.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: For a 20-minute local call?

RAEL LISSOOS: For a 20 minute cell-to-cell call.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The big telecommunication providers like Vodacom and MTN say the prices reflect the cost of building infrastructure across a vast country.

Their critics say the companies are simply ignoring poorer neighborhoods they perceive as less lucrative, and they say the government hasn’t helped. The government still owns a share of what used to be a public telecom monopoly and it shares in the windfall of phone and broadband profits. Flying under the radar of these sky-high rates, Lissoos saw an opportunity to start his own business called Dabba Telecom.

RAEL LISSOOS: We can buy in bulk at like one rand, and sell it at 1.2 rands, and, actually, people normally would be buying it at three rands. That’s win-win. We have got a margin. People are saving money.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Across the downtown, Dabba has installed relay antennas that connect one building to the next. Routers connect the buildings to the Internet and make Internet-based phones possible.

RAEL LISSOOS: We have got a pair of cable going into every single apartment.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Rael Lissoos describes himself as a geek with Robin Hood urges. He made a fortune selling education software mostly in Europe. He sold his company and with a few other investors began Dabba Telecom as a social business two years ago.

He is an economist and teacher by training, and the new business has brought out his inner door-to-door salesman.

RAEL LISSOOS: Do you want cheap telephones in your room?

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He randomly knocks on strangers’ doors.

WOMAN: Phones are free?

RAEL LISSOOS: The phones are free, and then you pay for the Internet, but you have got to buy prepaid airtime for the phones as well.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Dabba has placed phones free in about 9,000 apartments. To use them to call cell phones or landlines requires prepaid credit, which is sold at nearby convenience stores. It’s how Dabba recovers its costs, though Lissoos points out Dabba cards are far cheaper than the large company ones.

For more and more people, phone and increasingly Internet connections are making a huge difference.

MAN: So, now you connect to the Internet.

Lucas Ramaganda (ph) is a bus driver with a catering side business. Internet access is essential, he says, but, until now, getting online via cell phone connection ate up most of his business profits.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And now your business is going to pick up also, your side business?

MAN: I really hope so. That is my wish.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Lucas and his wife, Queen Ramaganda (ph), are most excited for what it means in the future for their son, Mutsidsi (ph).

MAN: Like, there’s something that they need from school, and we can get it from the Internet.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: One connection at a time, Lissoos says the neighborhood is being transformed.

RAEL LISSOOS: In this street, there’s probably about 1,500 Internet terminals, which is amazing.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Collins Moyo owns two Internet cafes. Without Dabba’s lower connection rates, he says, he would have no profit

COLLINS MOYO, business owner: If, say, I can pay 10 rand to telecom, maybe Dabba, I can pay two rand, so I’m saving eight rands.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The 80 percent savings is allowing him to expand to a third store, he says.

And Dabba is also growing.

RAEL LISSOOS: Our revenue is now growing like quite a lot. It’s like probably 30, 40 percent a month now. And now the Internet, so I will reckon we will probably break even in the next four or five months — on our running costs, not on our investment. And it will probably take us another year or so.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: His immediate goal is to more than double the number of households with Dabba phones, to 25,000 by the end of this year. If it proves sustainable, Lissoos says this could be the model across the developing world.

RAEL LISSOOS: You could bring in one bulk connection to the Internet. You could distribute it, prepaid to your neighborhood. And, also, you can create a telephone system. And then that person would have enough money to make a nice living and service — service their users.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: If such enterprises prove profitable, he says, large companies may be attracted into underserved inner-city and rural markets, not just here, but in many other countries. That would bring competition and lower prices for all.

 


ABRAHAM VERGHESE AND THE SAMARITAN HEALER

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Abraham Verghese has all the credentials and degrees befitting a professor at Stanford medical school. But he is best known and acclaimed for his writing – two best selling memoirs and a new work of fiction – that evoke a different kind of medical vocation.

ABRAHAM VERGHESE: My desire to be a physician had a lot to do with that sense of medicine as a ministry of healing, not just a science. And not even just a science and an art, but also a calling also a ministry.

DE SAM LAZARO: His goal is to have today’s medical students aspire similarly to a calling­ as much as a career in medicine, to awaken a more basic curiosity as they sharpen their clinical acumen. These third year medical students were studying abnormalities in this scan, specifically, the prominence of certain blood vessels.

VERGHESE: (Speaking to students) This is what’s called pulmonary re-distribution. Have you heard that term? It’s an early sign of heart failure. Who’s got good hand veins that I can borrow?

DE SAM LAZARO: Verghese offered a simple “physics” explanation of why blood vessels should not normally be visible above the level of the heart…

VERGHESE: (Speaking to students) The level of her left atrium is about here. So watch what happens as I raise her hand. Still see the veins, nice, three dimensional, right? See how they’re flattening out? Now they are gone!

DE SAM LAZARO: The bottom line: Well before an x-ray, a doctor might spot telltale signs of disease.

VERGHESE: (Speaking to students) Now if you’re talking to someone and you see their neck veins and they’re not coughing, speaking, singing, straining, they have increased venous pressure…

DE SAM LAZARO: Increasingly, he says students and practitioners of medicine in the west rely on technology in a system that stresses cognitive knowledge and machines over the skill that comes from touch and feel.

VERGHESE: I’m the first to admit that the resolution of a hand feeling a belly doesn’t compare with the resolution of a cat scan scanning a belly, but only my hand can say that it hurts at this spot and not at this spot. Only my hand can say that. Only my hand can say that this pulsatile mass, which might be an aneurism, is also painful. Which is therefore maybe a leaking aneurism. You know, there are nuances to the exam that no machine is going to give you.

DE SAM LAZARO: It’s a theme Verghese has sounded repeatedly over the years, writing in magazines including the New Yorker and Atlantic, and now in a best-seller called “Cutting for Stone.” It fulfills a long-held desire to write fiction, as he told this book club in Menlo Park, California.

VERGHESE: (Speaking at book club) Dorothy Alison, a wonderful American writer, she says, “Fiction is the great lie that tells the truth about how the world lives.”

DE SAM LAZARO: The setting for Verghese’s novel is far from this Silicon Valley setting – a mission hospital in Ethiopia. It is a textured, 650 page narrative, set amid that country’s turmoil in the 60s and 70s. Its stories of medicine, doctors and future doctors at the hospital all illustrate what the author calls the “Samaritan role” of the healer. Verghese went from medical school in India to Boston, Tennessee, Texas, then Stanford. He was born and raised in Ethiopia to parents originally from Kerala, India and from its Syriac orthodox traditions. Faith was a big part of life for this and many other expatriate communities in the Addis Ababa of his youth-which may unwittingly have shape some of the novel’s characters.
Woman at Book Club: You said that what really inspired you to write the book was that you wanted to write a book that would get people interested perhaps in medicine. But there’s so much in the book about faith, and different types of faith. And so how did you come to have so much of this, of another theme in your book?

VERGHESE: Well, you know, the honest answer is that I don’t really know. It all just sort of evolved that way. And I think when you’re in medicine, you agonize over matters of faith.

DE SAM LAZARO: The confluence of faith and medicine, and the mission hospital itself, attracted Duke University divinity school dean Gregory Jones to Verghese’s book. It was a timely find, just before a recent trip to discuss his church’s own mission work.

GREGORY JONES, Duke University: It becomes a shaping institution that plays a really significant role in any developing country and one that we need to pay a lot more attention to. My trip to London was actually to deal with issues around southern Sudan, and so I was struck by the significant role this hospital was playing in the novel about Ethiopia.

DE SAM LAZARO: And even though its setting seems distant, Jones says the novel’s context is very relevant to many students he sees at Duke.

JONES: I think a lot of Christians go into nursing or medicine or other health-related vocations out of a deeply-formed and felt Christian vocation, but sometimes the practice of health care, in the United States particularly, often pushes that apart. And I think the novel portrays that in a really beautiful way.

VERGHESE: I joke but only half joke that if you show up in an American hospital missing a finger, no one will believe you until we get a cat scan, MRI and orthopedic consult…

DE SAM LAZARO:All the emphasis on machines, he says, adds cost to the health care system, and comes at the expense of one of our most important rituals – a visit with one’s doctor.

VERGHESE:Rituals are about transformation. You know, we marry with great ceremony to signal a transformation. We are baptized in a ritual to signal a transformation. The ritual of one individual coming to another, and confessing to them things they wouldn’t tell their spouse, their preacher, their rabbi, and then even more incredibly, disrobing and allowing touch, which in any other context would be assault. You know, tell me that that’s not a ritual of great significance. If we short-change the ritual by not being attentive, or your inputting into the computer when the patient’s talking to you, you basically, you’re destroying the opportunity for the transformation. And what is a transformation? It’s the sealing of the patient-physician bond.

DE SAM LAZARO: Ironically, Verghese says, research is emerging that corroborates the importance of this bond, the virtue of the Samaritan healer.

VERGHESE: We’re learning that you can have a powerful effect on patients, or a powerful negative effect on patients based on context, based on your tone of voice. They are actually associated with significant chemical changes in the brain. The Parkinson’s patients’ dopamine levels go up with a placebo. We’re now able to show that the words of comfort trigger biological reactions which are the very things that you want, and you can use drugs to get there, or you can use words of comfort to get there, which would make your drugs so much more effective. It’s an incredible insight, and you know a couple of decades now of practicing medicine, it’s lovely to come full circle to where I started but with the science to back it up.

DE SAM LAZARO: For Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly, this is Fred de Sam Lazaro.

 


Post-Apartheid South Africa

FRED DE SAM LAZARO, correspondent: South Africa has spent six billion dollars just on stadiums-money that could have gone to many pressing needs in a poor country. But that debate has been set aside for the celebrations these days. No one, it seems, has escaped World Cup fever-not even Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who came to our interview wearing soccer vestments.

ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: Many of those who are celebrating are the very ones that you would have thought wouldn’t because they are poor. But the scriptures long ago reminded us that human beings don’t subsist only on bread. You need things that lift your spirit.

DE SAM LAZARO: For five decades, Tutu has been one of South Africa’s most prominent voices -a leader in the struggle against the white minority rule of apartheid, leader of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that is widely credited for a mostly peaceful transition after elections in 1994 brought the long-imprisoned Nelson Mandela to power. Now frail, the 92-year-old Mandela makes only rare public appearances. Tutu is also retired, but he keeps a much higher and often outspoken profile.

TUTU: God gave us an incredible start with a Nelson Mandela, and it would be very difficult to maintain that quality of leadership.

DE SAM LAZARO: After 16 years, the verdict on South Africa is decidedly mixed. It still has the modern infrastructure, built for its affluent 10 percent white minority. What’s new are places like this glitzy mall in the historically black township of Soweto. Not long ago, the only blacks in places like these would have been cleaning them. Today, few people can match the consumer appetite of people like Tim Tebeila, part of a new class of black industrialist. He recently came to the site of a multimillion-dollar home he’s building near Johannesburg.

CONTRACTOR (speaking to Tim Tebeila): We’re still waiting for the Italian chandelier to come in that you chose. I think it weighs, what, one-and-a-half tons?

DE SAM LAZARO: Tebeila was a young member of the African National Congress, or ANC, that was banned for fighting apartheid, which officially excluded the 85 percent black majority from all but the most menial jobs. All that changed after ANC leader Nelson Mandela’s election in 1994.

TEBEILA: My business career in 1994 I can say has improved dramatically.
DE SAM LAZARO: Tim Tebeila is a natural salesman who quickly found success in the insurance business. By 1995 came more opportunities.

TEBEILA: I then established a company called Tebeila Building Construction. Now that was also in response to a new trend in government in terms of trying to empower the blacks.

DE SAM LAZARO: Tebeila is one of the most successful beneficiaries of new, sweeping policies to increase black participation in the economy: more ownership of shares in industry, affirmative action in hiring, and more government contracts. The problem, many experts say, is that such success stories are all too few. The new policies have many more people feeling hurt rather than helped. Coenie Kriel has spent four months scouring the Internet for a new job.

COENIE KRIEL: A lot of the adverts are stipulating AA. That stands for affirmative action, meaning that they prefer the AA candidate.

DE SAM LAZARO: The 45-year-old mechanical engineer was laid off from a mining company in February. Four years ago he left a previous job after being passed over for a promotion. In both cases, he says, affirmative-action considerations may have hurt him, even though he’s not entirely opposed to them.

KRIEL: You get in these phases up and down, and you feel why me? But then you realize that’s basically life, and between myself and my wife we believe that it’s the way of the Lord.

DE SAM LAZARO: And overall Kriel has reason to be optimistic and confident. Despite government programs, white South Africans are doing well. White unemployment is just five percent, and given the shortage of engineers,
Kriel is confident he’ll soon land a job.
That confidence is hardly shared by blacks. Although living conditions have improved somewhat among black South Africans, black unemployment is officially 25 percent. In reality it’s likely much higher. Unlike their parents, young blacks like Nonthokozo Kubeka can visit shopping malls, but many can do little more than visit.

NONTHOKOZO KUBEKA: I think that the problem in South Africa is that we have the most brilliant policies, but they’re on paper.

DE SAM LAZARO: She got a government loan to attend college-the first in her family ever to do so. But the 24-year-old political science major hasn’t found a job 16 months after graduating.

KUBEKA: The situation is you are more likely to succeed if you know the right people, if you were in the struggle for some reason even. I’m too young to have been in the struggle.

DE SAM LAZARO: South Africans of all races complain about corruption, about high crime rates, about an education system in decline. Amid all this-amid political scandal surrounding the extramarital affairs of current president, Jacob Zuma, the ANC has continued to win elections, still trading, experts say, on its reputation as the party of Mandela. Archbishop Tutu says it will soon have to respond to growing discontent among voters. He’s urged the government to harness what he calls unprecedented national unity leading up to the World Cup.

TUTU: I haven’t seen so many people displaying our flag on their cars and every conceivable place. It’s just a fantastic thing, and we’re enormously grateful that it is there.

DE SAM LAZARO: Are you optimistic that it will reenergize South Africa? And if so, what gives you that optimism? You’ve expressed some reservations about the ability of this government to deliver the goods.

TUTU: I’ve always said I’m not an optimist. I’m a prisoner of hope, which is a different kettle of fish. Optimism is too light. Now to come to your question: I think that they do have amongst the cabinet people who are strategizers, people who are aware that there has been a kind of disillusionment among the people. I mean they’ve seen the protest demonstrations because people are upset at the slow delivery of services.

DE SAM LAZARO: Do you worry about the aftermath of Nelson Mandela’s passing?

TUTU: It’s going to be a horrendous moment in the life of our country. But human beings do have a capacity for adjusting. I mean we’re going to become a normal society, and we will not always be looking to Colossus to lead us.

DE SAM LAZARO: At the end of the day, Tutu said, he pins his hope for South Africa and for the world on what he calls humankind’s intrinsic goodness, the subject of a new book he coauthored with his Anglican priest daughter, Mpho Tutu. They argue human beings are hard-wired to do good.

TUTU: Fundamentally we are good, for you see a good person make us feel good, too. We felt good just watching a Chinese student standing in front of tanks. I mean knowing that he was not likely to succeed in stopping the carnage, but for a moment he did. He made those tanks swerve, and looking at that image our hearts leapt with an exhilaration. That said, yeah, that is how we should be. That is how I hope I would respond.

DE SAM LAZARO: You’ve written that evil will never have the last word.

TUTU: No. Sometimes it takes long.

DE SAM LAZARO: What is the terminal point where you say the last word is being uttered?

TUTU: For the ones who are suffering, it’s forever it seems, but happen it will. Just ask Hitler. Just ask Mussolini. Just ask Amin. Just ask the apartheid guys here. They used to strut around imagining they were totally invincible. You say, where are they today?

DE SAM LAZARO: For Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, this is Fred de Sam Lazaro in Cape Town, South Africa.

 


Israeli Settlers and Palestinians

BOB ABERNETHY, host: In Jerusalem, with Secretary of State Clinton on hand, the Israeli and Palestinian leaders continued talks aimed at Middle East peace. One of the toughest and most immediate issues is Israeli settlements on land in the West Bank the Palestinians insist is theirs. On September 26, Israel’s self-imposed moratorium on more settlement construction expires, and no one knows whether Israel will then start building again, and if it does whether the Palestinians will walk out of the talks. Fred de Sam Lazaro visited the dry and windy West Bank.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO, correspondent: Gilad Freund has spent much of his adult life here as a farmer, an occupation not commonly associated with his roots in New York City. But as a Jew, Freund says he has his own concept of roots and geography.

GILAD FREUND: I was brought up to believe that the Jewish people have a historical strong connection with the land of Israel, and even though there’s a good life in America I felt that it was an important step for me to come here.

DE SAM LAZARO: Freund arrived 30 years ago and settled in the village of Tekoa, about 30 miles from Jerusalem, a place that dates back to biblical times.

FREUND: Tekoa is the home of the prophet Amos. He was a real farmer, and in the Book of Amos he prophesizes that the people of Israel will come back to the land and that they will settle on the land, and they will plant gardens and grow fruit trees, and he used these biblical agricultural analogies in his prophesy.

DE SAM LAZARO: Gilad Freund embodies not just that prophesy but also the Zionist vision of a Jewish state that led to the formation of modern-day Israel. Freund is among at least 300,000 Israelis who have settled on the West Bank, land captured by Israel in the 1967 War. They are drawn by religious conviction or often bu just the affordable subsidized housing. The settlements have long been a sticking point in peace negotiations. They’ve angered not just Palestinians but also settlers themselves when Israel has agreed to dismantle some of them, like those in Gaza in 2005. The Gaza Strip and much of the West Bank are areas of Palestinian self-rule. In a two-state solution they would roughly form the state of Palestine. But for many Arabs living here, the concerns are more immediate and day-to-day. In this sparse village outside the city of Hebron, residents complained about the lack of proper roads, electricity, and water. And things have gotten a lot worse, they say, as they became surrounded by Israeli settlements.

PALESTINIAN WOMAN (speaking through translator): Before settlements, the range for our animals was very large. There used to be a lot of grazing land, a lot of water. Now, because of the settlements, we are restricted from grazing, and we cannot access the cisterns.

DE SAM LAZARO: These village women complained of raids by Israeli security forces, who they say accuse them of harboring illegal Palestinian migrant laborers or terrorists on their way to Israel.

MOUSSA ABD RAHMAN (Palestinian farmer, speaking through translator): They try to intimidate us. They come at night, make trouble for our young people. They don’t have title to this land. They don’t have the right to take our land and prevent us from having access to any part of this area.

DE SAM LAZARO: Across the rural West Bank, complaints were common about intimidation and vandalism. The settlers’ response was difficult to get. Settlers are reticent, suspicious of outsiders, and they’ve long complained of a perpetual terrorist threat. What is not in question is the stark gap in the standard of living between Palestinians and settlers, a gap vividly evident in the fields. Israeli farmers enjoy water at subsidized rates. Palestinians farmers do not.

NADER AL-KHATEEB: If you look around us, we will see that the Palestinian land is totally bare now. There is no farming here because there is no water. And also this has been very much affected by the Israeli control of the water. And next to us here we can see a big farm owned by one Israeli settler who is taking the water from a well, while the Palestinians have no access or right to dig any new well to tap the groundwater.

DE SAM LAZARO: Nader al-Khateeb and Gidon Bromberg belong to Friends of the Earth Middle East, an environmental group with Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian members.

GIDON BROMBERG: Shared water resources are not being shared fairly. That’s critical to the peace process. That’s critical as an issue that creates animosity between Palestinians and Israelis, and we believe that this is not fair, this is not just, this is not sustainable.

DE SAM LAZARO: Even as they criticize what they call discriminatory Israeli policies, both men agree the Palestinians also suffer from internal problems-corruption, mismanagement, and a bloody leadership struggle that has divided the Palestinian territories. On the other hand, settlements have been largely well served with roads, water, and security under successive Israeli governments-whether left-leaning or right, whether the communities were officially sanctioned or built without government approval by private or religious organizations. One of the settlers’ strongest allies is Israel’s minister of infrastructure. He’s with the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu Party, a coalition partner in the government, though his views sound far more strident than official government pronouncements. Uzi Landau refers to the West Bank by its biblical name, Judea and Samaria, and says it’s an integral part of the Jewish homeland.
(speaking to Uzi Landau): You’ve been quoted as calling Arabs the occupiers. Is that an accurate quote, and what did you mean?

UZI LANDAU: It is an absolutely accurate description. They are modern crusaders. This land has been always our land. This land-so many occupiers. Jews were driven out, many of them, during the Roman period. They saw the Iranians, the Farsi, they saw the Ottomans, they saw the Arabs, they saw the British, the Marmlukes, you name it. Every occupier replaced the one and was replaced by the occupier that came after him. The Arabs are one of the occupiers. They are living over there. They have and should have all the rights as a minority has in every democratic country. But we claim that this is our land, definitely.

MOUSSA ABD RAHMAN (speaking through translator): We insist that we will stay on this land, even if it means we will die here.

DE SAM LAZARO: Palestinian farmers we talked to have their own historical starting line.

KAMAR MOUA RABA (Palestinian farmer speaking through translator): First, there were Arabs here before the Jews, so we could use the same argument to say that previous generations of our people were here before you. This is not a solution, because we are all sons of Abraham, them and us. We must appreciate each other because we are cousins.

DE SAM LAZARO: Settler-farmer Gilad Freund says he’s grown used to living with the seemingly intractable, often tense dispute over land. But all historic grievances take time to address, he says. Just look at the US and civil rights.

GILAD FREUND: Once segregation ended, it was not overnight that things changes, and there’s still a lot of problems today. There’s ghettos, there’s unemployment, there’s a lot of problems today that still have not been solved, so processes take time. Americans like to think that there are overnight solutions-overnight solutions in Iraq, overnight solutions in Afghanistan. In the Middle East there are no overnight solutions.

DE SAM LAZARO: Whether the new peace talks continue seems to depend on some compromise within the family of Abraham-whether Israel will build settlements after September 26, and if they do whether the Palestinians will keep negotiating.
For Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly this is Fred de Sam Lazaro.

 

Peace Thru Business

under-told stories logo against green backgroundAn American entrepreneur has found a way to work with Palestinians and Israelis for both peace and profit. Click here to watch the video »

 

 

JEFFREY BROWN: And from the perspective of a world leader, we turn to that of a businessman struggling to make peace on a smaller scale. Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports from Israel.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Once upon a time, this factory in central Israel was a small kitchen, selling a few jars of sun-dried tomato spread to delis in Israel. Then, in 1992, founder Yoel Benesh got a visit from Daniel Lubetzky, a recent Stanford law graduate and tomato spread fan.

YOEL BENESH, business owner: We were three people were working at the time, me and another two workers. And he came with a jar that he bought in a supermarket. And he said, this is yours? I said, yes. He said, this is I like the most. I never taste anything like that. Look, this is my idea. He presents all the philosophy of PeaceWorks.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Daniel had brought a proposal he wrote in college called PeaceWorks. If Benesh would buy his supplies and ingredients from Israel’s often hostile neighbors, instead of Portugal or Italy, he would sell the product in America.

Did you think he was a little crazy?

YOEL BENESH: In the beginning, yes.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: But Lubetzky, who grew up in Mexico the son of a Holocaust survivor, made the case that trading with Arab and Muslim neighbors wasn’t just good for peace. It was good business.

DANIEL LUBETZKY, PeaceWorks: It’s closer than Portugal to buy the glasses from Egypt, but also the sun-dried tomatoes are fresher, the olives, the eggplant, the basal. You were also importing the basal (INAUDIBLE) farm in Ujah (ph), which is a Palestinian village.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Today, sales have grown to more than a million jars a year.

DANIEL LUBETZKY: We sell in whole foods. We sell in a lot of natural stores, specialty stores, Lunds & Byerly’s.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The social message is peace through business ties. Lubetzky has since started other, much larger food businesses, but he calls PeaceWorks a not-just-for-profit enterprise. He’s channeled 5 percent of PeaceWorks’ profits into a grassroots group he started called OneVoice to raise the voice of moderates, he says.

DANIEL LUBETZKY: We’re moving from theory into action. And the first part of the action is actually visualizing what is it that the people are going to do and then helping empower the people to actually start building a two-state solution.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: OneVoice has several hundred thousand signatures from supporters. Its young volunteers, Palestinian and Israeli, campaign for their vision of peace: an independent Palestinian on land captured by Israel in the 1967 war. The two nations would share a capital in the historic city of Jerusalem.

Also in the OneVoice media campaign are films to fire up its mostly young supporters. This one imagines Israel and Palestine co-hosting the 2018 soccer World Cup.

MAN (through translator): Do you think we will have an independent Palestine?

MAN (through translator): Not as I see the situation now.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: But as they hit the pavement, video cameras in hand to make more films, OneVoice’s volunteers find a far more pessimistic reality.

WOMAN (through translator): Life is very bad here in Palestine. And the situation is deteriorating because of the wall, because of the settlements which are eating up our land.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In the West Bank city of Ramallah, there’s anger over Jewish settlements built on land Israel captured in 1967 and the wall that Israel calls its security barrier, also in-fighting in the Palestinian leadership.

WOMAN (through translator): There is a siege on the people. We have become two peoples, two lands. And we’re taking a passive role in this. We were a people active and alive, but our politicians are standing in the way.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Israeli volunteers also met many skeptics. They too cited the bloody power struggle within the Palestinian territories between the Fatah Party of President Mahmoud Abbas, which controls the larger West Bank, and the Islamist Hamas Party, which now controls the Gaza Strip.

MAN (through translator): You have to look back. It goes back 4,000 years. It has nothing to do with politics. It’s a jihad war. And who can we make peace with? Hamas? Fatah? What about al-Qaida?

DANIEL LUBETZKY: Sadly, when I talk to Israeli groups or to American- Jewish groups, they don’t know that you exist. They don’t see both sides. They don’t see the humanity of the people, because, unfortunately, the media doesn’t show that to them. And I assume it’s the same case for you, that you only see the worst of the Israeli side.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: At a meeting of OneVoice volunteers and supporters in the West Bank city of Nablus, Lubetzky said large majorities on both sides are moderates who support a two-state solution but each views the other as lacking the leadership to carry out a peace treaty.

DANIEL LUBETZKY: I definitely think that we are swimming upstream. And it makes it very difficult for the vast majority of moderates who would benefit from connecting with one another and from meeting to be able to express themselves.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The growing tension has also made it difficult for Yoel Benesh’s business. His workers and many ingredients used to come directly from the West Bank, until barriers and tight security put an end to it.

Today, Benesh works with Hani Jahshan from an Arab family living within Israel’s 1948 boundaries. They have ties to farmers in the West Bank, as well as their own olive groves. If these men seem familiar, it’s because their fathers traded with each other.

YOEL BENESH: His father is the largest growers — grower, olive grower, here in the area. So, they had a good relationship in the term of business. And he came to our house. He knows my family. He knows everything.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Today, their relationship thrives, but it often has to do so quietly.

HANI JAHSHAN, olive grower (through translator): In the Palestinian areas, when things get hard, it’s also hard here. I have Palestinian business associates. And, during the hard times, you usually refrain from making your joint activities public.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Similarly, the venture’s Israeli factory makes many products for other brands besides PeaceWorks, but we were asked not to film the other brands, for fear that the association might affect sales in the Israeli market.

This idea of trading with Arabs is not very popular in Israel as well, right?

YOEL BENESH: Yes, you’re right. And the reason we are trying, working in spite of all the problems is due to our belief that it will help eventually.

HANI JAHSHAN (through translator): It’s very important for this kind of business to exist, because that creates a channel of communication, now that the political communication practically doesn’t exist.

Also, when businesses is thriving, people’s standard of living will go up. And I think it’s imperative that the Palestinian people will get out of the economic blight they’re facing. That’s also very important to the Israelis, because we are neighbors.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Lubetzky says the forbidding political climate has made it difficult to scale up these works, so it could have a wider impact.

DANIEL LUBETZKY: When the time comes — and the time is not going to be today — the minds are not ready. But if you start providing this content in one or two years, where you have that momentum, you are going to be able to then activate them and then get them through to the marches and to the street activations.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The OneVoice group hopes things will change through dogged campaigning by younger Israelis and Palestinians.

DANIEL LUBETZKY: Before I start business, I was in college, and I remember one of my thesis advisers thought that I was naive and crazy and it could never be done and gave me all the list of why it couldn’t be done. And then eventually I did it. It’s a little bit more of a stable idea and more of an accepted idea now, but it wasn’t 17 or 20 years ago.

So, I think, sometimes, it’s good to be a little naive and to just be willing to take risks, and to not know that you’re crazy. Then, when you look back, you can’t believe you did it.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: This year, OneVoice will spend $1.4 million, money raised in part from the sale of food products, but also now from several Israeli, Arab, and American donors.

 


Iraqis Who Fled War Often Face Long Exile

JEFFREY BROWN: And, finally, to Iraq’s refugees. Over the last three weeks, Margaret Warner reported from Iraq on the country’s transition to providing its own security. Tonight, special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro has this story from neighboring Jordan on Iraqis who fled years of conflict and may never return home.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Dr. Jalal Al Baya is much better off than most of the 500,000 or so Iraqi refugees in Jordan. He has a job in a busy practice here in Amman. But it’s a serious comedown for a man who was one of Iraq’s top dental surgeons.

DR. JALAL AL BAYA, dental surgeon (through translator): I had the largest dental practice in the country. And I had to abandon it when I fled to Jordan. There were lots of threats. And most of the scientists and doctors were targeted, so we had to reach out for a safe haven that was closest. And, for us, that was Jordan.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The large family home was destroyed in a car bombing and shelling that ripped through their Baghdad neighborhood. That’s when Al Baya joined an exodus of Iraqi professionals, fleeing threats of kidnapping or just running from the wrong side of a political or religious divide. By some estimates, since 2003, at least 60 percent of Iraq’s doctors have either left or stopped practicing.

Seven years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, perhaps two million Iraqis remain refugees in neighboring countries, especially Syria and here in Jordan.

IMRAN RIZA, UNHCR: A lot of people want to see Iraq over and done with, but it is still there. There still are the refugees.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Imran Riza heads the U.N. Refugee Agency’s office in Jordan.

IMRAN RIZA: There are many doctors. There are teachers. There are professors. In terms of our registered caseload, I think it’s close to around 30 percent that have university degrees. So, it’s a highly educated population, who I think never imagined to be in this situation.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Iraqi refugees are not housed in camps. Most rented homes in a parched, already crowded country. As it is, at least half of Jordan’s population of six million are Palestinian refugees from earlier regional conflicts. The Iraqis have seen their exile drag on much longer than they had hoped or could afford, says Tharaa Al Wadi of the relief agency International Rescue Committee.

THARAA AL WADI, International Rescue Committee: They came with some money. But most of them lived here for more than two years. And Jordan is not a cheap country. It’s expensive. So, even the people who came here and they had somehow money to cover their accommodation and the basic needs, they spent everything they have.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Iraqis are not allowed to work in Jordan unless they have specialized skills. In this family, 15 people share a two-room apartment. They survive on rations doled out monthly by the U.N. and about $200 in cash assistance. Thirty-eight-year-old Fadia (ph) scrounges informally for additional income.

WOMAN (through translator): I beg. I get lots of orders from bakeries and such. And I do tailoring. I also volunteer at the International Rescue Committee to raise awareness about domestic violence.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Fadia escaped the violence of Baghdad in December 2003. Her brother and brother-in-law were kidnapped and killed by militiamen. She has no idea who they were. They also took her husband, father of her three children. He was freed, but with severe physical and mental trauma, and unable to work since. Neither he nor Fadia’s surviving brother would appear on camera, still fearful for their safety. Yet, she’s desperate to return to Iraq.

WOMAN (through translator): We have been escaping to a safer place for eight years. But we can’t do that forever. I have been living in a strange land for eight years. We don’t care about electricity and water at this point, because we have gotten too used to living without it. I just need some security for myself and my kids.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Relief workers say most exiles find it’s not safe enough to return. Even if they did, finding housing and work would be a huge challenge.

For many, the best hope is resettlement in a third country. They apply at the U.N. Refugee Agency. The U.S., Australia, Canada, and Europe are top destinations, although the economic slowdown has limited job prospects for newcomers. About 20,000 refugees were resettled last year. For most, the wait can take years. Iraq’s religious minorities, mostly Christians, and female-headed households receive priority.

At the other end, in a seemingly indefinite limbo, are young men. They struggle on the margins in Amman.

Ahmed Doori pays his rent by fixing computers. He started a Web site to bring young Iraqi exiles together and to help them navigate the asylum process.

AHMED DOORI, Jordan (through translator): It’s the most miserable situation for the young Iraqis here in Jordan. Usually, they can’t find work here. There’s not even work for Jordanian nationals, let alone young men who come here as refugees. You can’t get a work permit. So, if you want to get a job, it will be illegal. But you could submit yourself to forced deportation if they find out.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Aid workers worry about the emerging generation. Many have seen their education disrupted, further handicapping them in any job market. And Fadia, who says she enjoyed a stable middle-class life under Saddam Hussein, thinks many youths will carry forward the bitterness her generation harbors.

WOMAN (through translator): I definitely blame the Americans for everything that’s happening, for the death of my brother, for the death of my brother-in-law. I blame them for poor policies, shooting at families, going into homes.

My nephew, he’s a young kid. I can’t tell him to love America even though they killed your dad. So, he’s going to have a lot of bitterness towards America. And it’s going to grow up in his entire generation.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Even as they criticize the intervention, many refugees, including Dr. Al Baya, fear the U.S. pullout from Iraq.

DR. JALAL AL BAYA (through translator): The withdrawal was very good for the country. And the U.S. should be packing and leaving.

But, on the other hand, you need a strong, well-established national force who will take over the mission of security. And, at the moment, that doesn’t really exist. But, with better training, funding and assistance of U.S. and other countries, if they raise the bar for national Iraqi forces, Iraq will have a good future.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: His wife, Mona Salih, is not holding her breath.

MONA SALIH, Jordan (through translator): In my lifetime, it’s pretty much impossible. And, in my kids’ lifetime, maybe it’s possible, by God’s will.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Until then, she and many other Iraqi intellectuals will be watching from a distance. Like thousands of others, this family waits in line for a chance at resettlement. They hope it will be to the United Kingdom.

In Middle East, Coalition Aims to Ease Tension Over Water Resources

under-told stories logo against green backgroundAs the Israelis and Palestinians grapple with direct negotiations for peace, there’s another issue that is dividing them: water. Click here to watch the video »

 

 

JUDY WOODRUFF: As the Israelis and Palestinians grapple with direct negotiations for peace, there’s another issue that divides them: water. Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro looks at one group’s efforts to tackle the problem.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The terrain is rocky and parched, more so in recent years due to drought. But many Israelis say they have witnessed a modern-day miracle in the Holy Land.

WOMAN (through translator): In another three years, Israel’s water crisis will be over.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: This commercial from Israel’s public water utility boasts of a new abundance.

WOMAN (through translator): It will happen because the desalination plants will reach full working capacity.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Twenty-five percent of Israel’s drinking water now comes directly from the Mediterranean through expensive desalination plants built along the country’s coastline. Israel is a mostly urban nation, yet it has developed a thriving farm sector by efficiently using limited water resources in many different ways.

GILAD FREUND, Israeli farmer: We have a pipe here with a dripper.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Gilad Freund, a New York native, moved here 30 years ago. Among other things, he grows organic asparagus.

GILAD FREUND: Which we stick right by the young asparagus plants. And the water, when it’s opened — it’s opened by a computerized system — goes just to the asparagus plant.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And this is in a recycled tire.

GILAD FREUND: This is a recycled tire.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It’s not just the tires. Across Israel, 70 percent of the water used in homes is treated and reused in agriculture, in this case, the groves of fruit and olive trees.

GILAD FREUND: All the sewage from all the houses comes here, the washing machine, the shower, the toilet, the sink. It all flows here. And here the water is recycled.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Israeli farmers have fulfilled a Zionist dream of making the desert bloom.

But Gidon Bromberg and Nader Al Khateeb say it’s come at a cost. The two men, one Israeli, one Palestinian, are with a group called Friends of the Earth Middle East. They say Israeli water use, however efficient, still stresses the fragile arid environment.

More importantly, Bromberg says the water is not entirely Israel’s to take, since a lot of it comes from shared aquifers or those under Palestinian land.

GIDON BROMBERG, Friends of the Earth Middle East: Apart from two springs, the whole eastern basin of this valley is Palestinian water. And we shouldn’t be here. We shouldn’t be pumping water. When we pump water from the eastern basin, we do it directly at Palestinian expense.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Water or access to it is a key measure of the growing gap between the Israeli and Palestinian standards of living.

The water disparity is especially sensitive in the West Bank, land captured by Israel in the 1967 war, a lot of it now under Palestinian self-rule. In the proposed two-state solution, the West Bank, as well as the Gaza Strip, would form the future Palestinian state.

But, today, over 300,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank, some with large, bountiful farms. Israeli farmers receive water year-round at subsidized rates. Their Palestinian neighbors must rely on rain-fed springs which flow only in the winter, says Nader Al Khateeb.

NADER AL KHATEEB, Friends of the Earth Middle East: And if you look around us, we will see that the Palestinian land is totally bare now. There is no farming here because there is no water.

And next to us here, we can see a big farm owned by one Israeli settler who is taking the water from a well, while the Palestinians have no access or right to dig any new wells to tap the groundwater.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Palestinians complain that Israel controls water sources that should be shared, even though there’s a joint committee set up under the 1993 Oslo accords that must approve water permits.

Palestinian water minister Shaddad Al Attili says Israel’s water policies imperil any permanent peace plan.

SHADDAD AL ATTILI, water minister, Palestinian Authority: People talking about two-state solution and enable a viable Palestinian state, imagine this state if there’s no water. We’re saying there will be no viable state if there’s no water.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: International agencies like the World Bank estimate that Palestinian per capita water consumption is about a quarter of the Israeli figure and well below the minimum goal set by the World Health Organization.

But the Bank claims not just Israeli policies, but also Palestinian mismanagement of resources and facilities. For their part, Israeli officials say the consumption comparison is unfair, since Israel’s far more industrialized and developed economy uses more water.

And Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau says the Palestinians get much more water than they used to.

UZI LANDAU, Israeli infrastructure minister: More than — close to three times than what they used to get 30 or 40 years ago in 1967. There is much leakage in their — in their pipes. And I don’t think it is making much sense that we should provide them with more freshwater, so that it will get lost in their leaking system.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And he says the Palestinians have few, if any, working waste treatment facilities.

UZI LANDAU: As we provide them with freshwater, we in turn get sewage. They claim that this land belongs to them, that this is their land. If this is the case, don’t they care about their land? Are they that easily spilling sewage over it?

SHADDAD AL ATTILI: Mr. Landau will turn back sewage because you never approve a Palestinian project submitted to JWC, the Joint Water Committee, or to the civil administration.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Attili notes that Israeli settlers also release untreated sewage. The Israelis say that’s because the Palestinians haven’t issued permits for treatment plants. Those aren’t likely since the Palestinians regard these Jewish settlements as illegal.

As the arguments go back and forth, as the impasse drags on, Friends of the Earth says it wants to draw attention to the humanitarian and especially environmental consequences.

NADER AL KHATEEB: Water is a human right issue and shouldn’t be kept hostage of the conflict.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Their group is unique in this region for having Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian members, including many school kids. They want to publicize what Gidon Bromberg says are issues that should alarm all sides, which rely on common water resources.

For example, thanks to mismanagement by all sides, the once mighty River Jordan, damned or diverted by Israel, Syria, and Jordan, is reduced in most places to a trickle.

GIDON BROMBERG: Ninety-eight percent of the historical flow of the Jordan today no longer flows. We’re left with something around 2 percent. And this is not freshwater. This is a mixture of sewage water, agricultural runoff, saline water, and what’s left is this very, very sad sight of a river that is holy to half of humanity.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And one that no longer flows into another fabled landmark. We walked in the ruins of a hotel veranda from where a few decades ago tourists stuck their toes in the Dead Sea. The shoreline has now receded more than a half-mile away.

Lake Kinneret, the biblical Sea of Galilee, is another body of water that used to be naturally connected to the Jordan River.

GIDON BROMBERG: I should be completely underwater. The Sea of Galilee behind us here should be five meters higher in depth.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He blames five years of drought and overpumping. The lake remains a major source of freshwater for Israel and, ironically, also for the Jordan River that once flowed into it.

The fresh lake water is pumped into the river to keep a two-mile stretch clean for Christian tourists who come to the Jordan, where they believe Christ was baptized.

MAN: One, two, three.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And it’s here to make a media splash that Friends of the Earth recently got mayors and officials from Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories to jump into the Jordan River.

NADER AL KHATEEB: Environmental degradation cannot wait until there is an end to the conflict. And you are thinking about the future generations.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: They have been called naive or worse for working across the historic enemy lines, but Friends of the Earth insists it has raised the visibility of water-related issues in this region, and that working on them at the grassroots level can be a confidence-builder between people who have long lived in fear of each other.

 


In India’s Crowded Capital, Crisis Looms Over Limited Water

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