Poverty & Economic Development

June 30th, 2014  |  By Round Earth Media

The underreported story of a deadly disease from our Next Gen reporter in Morocco

Mohamed removes his straw hat and is more active during overcast skies or in shady areas due to his xeroderma pigmentosum. Photo by Rachel Woolf.

Xeroderma Pigmentosum, XP, is a rare disease carried in 1 out of every 80   Moroccan’s DNA. It is only passed from parent to child when both parents carry  the recessive trait. Thus, in Morocco’s poor communities, where there is little opportunity for marriage outside the family, people are at higher risk to have, or at least pass on, the disease.

The disease is characterized by blistering and burning of the skin and eyes, along with various cancers. The National Cancer Institute reports a 10,000-fold increased risk of skin cancer for someone with XP and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found that non-melanoma skin cancer develops at a median age of nine. They are what Moroccans call Children of the Moon.


Today there are 800 Children of the Moon in Morocco. Due to poverty and poor access to health care, most of these children, teenagers and young adults will die before they reach 30.

Round Earth Media’s Francine Krieger reported the story of Morocco’s Children of the Moon for the Global Health Hub, read it HERE.


June 26th, 2014  |  By Round Earth Media

Morocco’s Children of the Moon Suffer in the Dark of Poor Health Care


This article was published by Global Health Hub on June 25, 2014.

MOROCCO – Mounir Yakdone died at 7 years old in pursuit of an education. His parents warned that the walk to school would continue to kill him, but the one-eyed boy painted with skin tumors felt he had nothing to lose.

Nozha Chkoundi and Mohammed Yakdone had taken their son Mounir to a public hospital in Casablanca when he was 3 years old. They were concerned about the freckles that multiplied on his skin with each passing day.

But being seen at the busy hospital was nearly impossible. They stood in line for hours, with the hot Moroccan sun radiating the heat of their impatience and the skin of their freckled boy. When finally seen by a doctor, Mounir was diagnosed with a fatal skin disease called Xeroderma Pigmentosum, which medical professionals generally shorthand to XP.

XP is a genetic disorder that cannot be detected until after birth, and until an infant’s skin reacts to sun exposure.

So when Nozha and Mohamed were letting Mounir spend three joyous years in the sunshine; shirtless at the beach, and unprotected while playing soccer in the sun, they didn’t know that he had XP and was quickly, certainly acquiring skin cancer.


May 28th, 2014  |  By Serenity Bolt

Event Recap: Mexico Uncovered

Credit: Erin Luhmann  Mary Stucky facilitating the discussion with Mexico Uncovered reporters via Skype.

Credit: Erin Luhmann
Mary Stucky facilitating the discussion with Mexico Uncovered reporters via Skype.

Thanks to all those who attended the Mexico Uncovered event we held at the Minneapolis Central Library on March 31st.

If weren’t able to come, we’ve packaged some audio highlights from the evening. Our team of journalists called in via Skype to share reflections on the radio stories they produced for top-tier media outlets. They embraced the Round Earth Media model – collaborating with a local journalist – and succeeded in capturing stories rich in sound, place and humanity.

An intro from Mary Stucky

Daniel Hernandez, host of the Mexico Uncovered radio documentary, is shifting the focus on Mexico from the war on drugs and immigration to its vibrant, evolving food culture. His reports unearth the cosmopolitan side of Mexico City. By the end of the night, he had the audience craving street food.

More from Hernandez here: 

Marlon Bishop, a contributing American reporter, shared how he immersed himself in Mexico’s automobile industry in 2013 for his PRI story, High-Tech Manufacturing Driving Mexican Economy. He highlighted that fact that despite economic growth in Mexico – a trend that has inspired a wave of reverse migration – more than half of the population remains below the poverty line, working in low-end jobs at maquiladoras, factories located in free trade zones in Mexico.

More from Bishop here: 

Mary Stucky also recognized Bishop’s first place National Headliner Award for his story published on PRI’s Studio 360, An Orchestra of Guns. He captured one artist’s vision to repurpose retired guns as instruments, to pay tribute the victims of gun violence in Mexico. Stucky explained that putting a new spin on an old narrative like gun violence is “exactly what Round Earth looks for.”

More from Bishop here: 

Monica Oritz Uribe, a contributing Mexican-American reporter, gave an update on Mexicans Returning from U.S. Find Challenges at Home, the story she published with Marketplace in January 2013. For the first time in 40 years, there are as many Mexicans going back to Mexico as there are coming to the U.S. She explored what assimilation looks like for youth born in the U.S who move south of the border.

Uribe also revealed a surprise encounter that happened through her reporting. In pursuit of a gang member to interview for a story she recently published with NPR’s ‘Borderland’ series, she discovered they were former classmates.

More from Uribe here: 


May 27th, 2014  |  By Serenity Bolt

Deficit pushes Morocco to cut subsidies


This article was published by Al Jazeera on May 02, 2014.


Rabat - Ahmed Dabachi’s heavy blue coat is stained with soot as he lugs a 25-pound butane canister from inside his dark shop to a customer in Rabat.

This is the fuel that many Moroccans depend on for cooking and also often for heating. The government heavily subsidizes the cost for Dabachi and also for his customers. He sells canisters for 42 dirhams or $5.04, but they actually trade for $14.50 on the commodities market.

Dabachi is wary of any but the slightest price increases, knowing they would be bad for him but even worse for families who rely on his products.

“If the prices go up, I’m not going to buy it. How are my customers going to?” he said.

Three years ago, Morocco managed to avoid the revolutions that brought down dictators in Tunisia and Egypt. One way the Moroccan government bought social peace was by spending 20 percent of its budget to subsidise the cost of bread, fuel and electricity. But that spending has since spiralled out of control – Morocco’s deficit ballooned to 7.1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012. Now, in a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the country will have to bring its deficit down to three percent by 2017, largely by cutting subsidies.


May 27th, 2014  |  By Serenity Bolt

Tips To Sort Out The Truth In ‘Cause Marketing’


This article was published by Zester Daily on May 12, 2014.


Liisa VonEnde, a dental hygienist from Vermont, pauses in the checkout line at Whole Foods Market and considers the last-minute temptations: local chocolate, exotic licorice, obscure brands of gum. Finally she tosses a 2 Degrees cherry almond energy bar into her cart. Why that one? This particular bar helped feed a hungry child. These days, “cause marketing” — an idea that for many began with Paul Newman’s salad dressing — has spread to everything from shoes to eyeglasses, with small specialty companies combining flashy graphics with philanthropy to sell their products.

California-based 2 Degrees Food provides one meal for every bar sold. In Morocco, meanwhile, women have organized into small cooperatives to sell argan oil, hoping the tie-in will boost sales for their vendors. Both cases sound like a win-win-win, satisfying the disadvantaged, a company’s bottom line, and consumer cravings. With so many food companies adopting the do-gooder model, however, consumers need to think about whether their well-meaning purchases are delivering as promised.


May 4th, 2014  |  By Serenity Bolt

From our young journalists in Italy — here’s a story they could uniquely report

In Milan, Clementino at the opening concert of his first Italy-wide tour, with a flat-brimmed New York Yankees cap and tattoos down his arms.  Photo: Zanna McKay

In Milan, Clementino at the opening concert of his first Italy-wide tour, with a flat-brimmed New York Yankees cap and tattoos down his arms. Photo: Zanna McKay


In Italy’s southern region of Campania, the youth unemployment rate is a whopping 48 percent. It’s something that rapper/hip-hop artist Clemente Maccaro — known as Clementino — tackles head on. He grew up near Naples in the Campania region, and that’s where his latest music video was filmed.  His song “O’ Vient” is about the desperate situation faced by Italian youth, especially those living in the south.

Round Earth’s Zanna McKay and Guia Baggi teamed up to bring Clementino’s message to audiences in the United States via PRI’s The World and in Italy via WIRED Magazine in Italian.

Click HERE for  Zanna’s story.

And HERE for Guia’s.

For more on Round Earth’s ground breaking partnership model — and more about Zanna and Guia —  click HERE.



November 8th, 2013  |  By Mary Stucky

Gold Mining in Ghana: Playing with Mercury


Photo: Maddy Crowell

NESTLED in a former cocoa-farming region in southwestern Ghana, the town of Prestea boasts more than 150 small-scale gold mines in the backyards of abandoned farms. The town, with a population of about 35,000, also sits covered in permanent smog—a red dust that stains white goats crimson. It is the result of lethal mercury, on which miners all over Ghana rely to refine their gold. In Prestea, where gravediggers are in greater supply than doctors, death from mercury poisoning is routine.

Thus begins Maddy Crowell’s powerful story in the Economist Magazine.  Maddy is an alum of our Morocco journalism program.  A senior at Carleton College, she was reporting in Ghana over her summer break.  Maddy and her Ghanaian partner, Jamila Okertchiri, approached Round Earth for mentoring on this shocking and important story.


June 4th, 2013  |  By Mary Stucky

Morocco Slow on Women’s Rights: More from Round Earth’s NextGen Journalists

The offices of the women’s advocacy group Al Amane in Marrakesh. Observers say that any changes will not mean much as long as there is not an independent judiciary to apply the law. Photo: Alice Urban

The girl at the police station in Marrakesh said she was not sure how old she was, 13 or maybe 14. Sitting on a chair in the unit that processes youth cases, she told a chilling account of being gang raped, and said she had no relatives willing to shelter her.

That’s the reality for many women in Morocco, according to a story in The New York Times produced in collaboration with Round Earth Media.  Grad student and Round Earth Media NextGen American reporter, Alice Urban, contributed reporting to this important untold story, written and reported by Moroccan reporter Aida Alami, another NextGen journalist affiliated with Round Earth.

It’s partnerships like that between Alice and Aida – mentored by Round Earth’s veteran reporters — that define our mission and our work.

”I think that true partnership adds a great integrity, understanding, and cooperation to producing a quality piece of journalism,” said Urban.

Here’s another story of special interest to our Minnesota friends, written by Alice with mentoring from Round Earth’s veteran journalists.

February 22nd, 2013  |  By Mary Stucky

Soultana: ‘The Voice of Women’ Raps in Morocco

Soultana in concert. PHOTO: Shalea Harris

This week marks the two-year anniversary of Morocco’s version of the so-called Arab Spring. It didn’t unseat a dictator. But, tens of thousands of Moroccans took to the streets demanding democracy. Morocco’s powerful King diffused the protest by offering a few reforms. But little has changed for most Moroccans – especially the country’s young people. Many have found their voice in rap music.  From Morocco on The World, with stunning photos by student photojournalist Shalea Harris.  The latest from Round Earth Media’s groundbreaking collaboration with SIT Study Abroad.   Click HERE to listen and view the photos.

January 8th, 2013  |  By Mary Stucky

Mexico Aims To Save Babies And Moms With Modern Midwifery

The United States and Mexico share deep personal, economic, geographic and cultural connections, but understanding – on both sides of the border – is often limited by stereotype and media exaggeration. Round Earth Media is out to change that.  We launched in 2005, with a bounty of stories from Mexico, supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  Now, in a groundbreaking new collaboration, Round Earth Media is pairing young American and Mexican journalists, to produce powerful, untold stories from Mexico, stories rich in place and humanity.  These stories, broadcast and published in top-tier media, are reaching huge audiences in both countries.

American journalist Monica Ortiz Uribe (in photo with mic) and Lillian Lopez Camberos, a Mexican journalist, interviewing in Mexico for the story they produced in partnership.

Round Earth Media’s new Mexico Reporting Project is supported by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.  The focus of these stories: important but little known or commonly misunderstood aspects of life in Mexico.

Click HERE to listen to Monica Ortiz Uribe’s story about midwives in Mexico, broadcast on NPR’s Weekend Edition. Good maternal health care is a challenge in many parts of rural Mexico. Maternity hospital wards are often overcrowded and caesarian sections are routinely scheduled, rather than allowing time for the natural birth process to take place. But this August, in the rural state of Guerrero, the Mexican government opened its first maternity hospital with trained, professional midwives to help alleviate these problems. We pay a visit to Guerrero and see how these new developments are making giving birth easier for women.

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