Public Health

November 8th, 2013  |  By Mary Stucky

Gold Mining in Ghana: Playing with Mercury

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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.

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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.

July 10th, 2012  |  By Round Earth Media

What Makes Countries Rich or Poor?

A little girl in the doorway of her house in the Bolivian Subtropics. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. | Photo by Katherine McDonald

Here’s Round Earth Media intern Emma Foehringer Merchant with more about why some nations fail and others succeed.
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It is blatantly obvious that certain states have had some sort of leg up in becoming world powers. Just what offered these countries their advantage? Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson explain in their book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, reviewed by Jared Diamond (author of the best-selling Guns, Germs and Steel) in last month’s New York Review of Books. Here’s their take.

What do successful nations have in common?

Good political and economic institutions that form a stable state (in constrast to states with deep tribal divisions) are the main common denominator between rich countries, according to economists Acemoglu and Robinson. These institutions allow for a centralized and well-regulated government. Political and economic institutions the two authors define as “good” are those that encourage citizen participation in the economic system.  Good institutions protect peoples’ rights and livelihoods and disallow corruption and insecurity.  As Diamond explains, “people are motivated to work hard if they have opportunities to invest their earnings profitably, but not if they have few such opportunities or if their earnings or profits are likely to be confiscated.”

What makes a country poor?

Acemoglu and Robinson provide some reasons for economic deficiencies in certain states including:

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June 19th, 2012  |  By Round Earth Media

In Kenya, U.S. aid groups focus their efforts

"Give Us Wings" co-founder Mary Steiner meeting with the Young Victoria Womens's Group in Nyaoga Village in, Kenya, East Africa. | Photo courtesy of Give Us Wings

Tess Vigeland: Drought and war in the Horn of Africa have left a wide swath of the population there homeless and hungry. The United Nations says some 11 million people need aid to survive. Many of those displaced have headed to Kenya, which itself has deep economic problems. But for all the international aid Kenya has received over the last 30 years, life expectancy there has actually shortened and poverty rates are unchanged.

Mary Stucky reports. (more…)

October 20th, 2011  |  By Round Earth Media

Culion Island: Coming Back to Life

Hilarion Guia, former resident of Culion Island and now its first mayor. | Photo: Katherine Jack

Culion is a beautiful and remote tropical island in the western Philippines — but it is an island with a dark history. It was once the world’s largest colony for people with leprosy. At its peak, Culion Island was home to 16,000 patients. But today, as Mary Stucky reports, this place that was once called the land of the living dead, has undergone a remarkable transformation.
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July 7th, 2010  |  By Mary Stucky

Our Central America Project

Gold mining in El Salvador: Pacific Rim verdict expected in August 2010

As we get closer to our trip to Central America, we will be blogging about some of the most important issues facing the region. One of the most contentious issues facing the country of El Salvador is gold mining. Is it an economic boon or an environmental disaster? From journalist Ambar Espinoza, the latest on the case involving the so-called Pacific Rim mine.

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May 22nd, 2010  |  By Round Earth Media

In Search of Shovels

Roger Rumpf and Jacqui Chagnon on their porch overlooking the Mekong River. | Mary Stucky

Per capita, Laos is the most bombed country on earth. For nine years, every day, around the clock, the United States rained bombs down on much of the country. The bombing was intended to stop Communist supply routes running through Laos into Vietnam. Many of those bombs, called cluster bombs, are about the size of a tennis ball and never exploded. So years after the war ended, the bombs were still claiming lives every day.
On a recent trip to Laos, reporter Mary Stucky met an American couple who worked to stop that death toll by buying up shovels.
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April 8th, 2010  |  By Round Earth Media

Abortion and gay marriage new hot-button issues in Mexico

Busy bar scenes like this one in Pata Negra are a common occurrence in Mexico City's Condessa neighborhood. | Photo by Christopher Wilson

Busy bar scenes like this one in Pata Negra are a common occurrence in Mexico City's Condesa neighborhood. | Photo by Christopher Wilson

Hot button social issues like abortion and gay marriage are a staple of American politics. But in Mexico these controversial issues were rarely a factor in elections – until now. It all started when Mexico City legalized abortion three years ago. And, late last year Mexico’s huge capital city gave legal approval for gay marriage. This in a country that’s overwhelmingly Catholic. As Mary Stucky reports, Mexicans have broken what was once considered a taboo: mixing religion and politics.
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November 14th, 2009  |  By Mary Stucky

Latrines

At Round Earth Media we cover important global issues that aren’t getting attention in the daily news cycle. One story we hope to report may sound pretty dull, even gross: the lack of latrines.

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November 6th, 2009  |  By Round Earth Media

Bomb Hunters in Laos

The mother of nine year old Hamm who was killed when a cluster bomb exploded.

The mother of 9-year-old Hamm. The boy was killed when a cluster bomb exploded. | All photos by Mary Stucky

The world economic crisis caused a steep drop in the price of metal but that hasn’t stopped a strange and extremely dangerous enterprise in the jungles of Laos. Every day kids and adults trek into the forest looking for scrap metal they can sell for cash. They find fine gauge steel – bombs — or pieces of them — left over from the Vietnam War. Many of these bombs never exploded. Mary Stucky reports from Laos on this deadly business.

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