Pulitzer Center Update

This Week: Toxic Work

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Stephan Bose-O'Reilly, a pediatrician and environmental health expert, examines two-year-old Rifky Aldiansyah, who lives in the village of Cisitu, for symptoms of mercury poisoning. Rifky was in good health until his third month when he began losing motor control. Rifky's mother, right, who lived in Cisungsang, a nearby mining community, said her home there was surrounded by gold processing centers. Mercury poisoning is “a serious health problem” for children in Indonesia, Bose-O'Reilly says. Image by Larry C. Price. Indonesia, 2016.

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THE TERRIBLE PRICE EXTRACTED BY GOLD

Children with horrific deformities and disabilities condemned to brief lives of unspeakable pain—this is the real cost of gold, as documented by Pulitzer Center grantees Larry Price and Rick Paddock in their report for National Geographic. Mercury poisoning is a cruel killer, but “millions of people in 70 countries across Asia, Africa, and South America have been exposed to high levels of mercury as small-scale mining has proliferated over the past decade,” writes Rick. “The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that at least 10 million miners, including at least 4 million women and children, are working in small-scale or ‘artisanal’ gold mines, which produce as much as 15 percent of the world’s gold” and which rely heavily on mercury.

THE BEST WAY TO HELP HAITI

In their continuing series for the Nashville Tennessean and USA Today on aid strategies to help Haiti, Pulitzer Center grantees Jamie McGee and Larry McCormack take a close look at “voluntourism.” Well-meaning volunteers come to this impoverished Caribbean nation by the thousands—to hand out food, paint houses and even perform eye surgery. But the one thing these good folk don’t do is spend a lot of money in the local economy. The Marriott hotel chain offers a different model. Gambling on a recovery of the conventional tourism sector, Marriott built a glistening new property in Port-au-Prince and turned a profit in its first year. As Jamie reports, “It employs 165 people, nearly all of whom are Haitian, and has put a heavy emphasis on buying local goods.”

STUDENT FELLOWS TAKE ON THE WORLD

This year, 31 Campus Consortium student fellows are reporting on timely issues, from global health and perceptions of identity to environmental degradation and innovation. Earlier this year, Michael Bodley and Meredith Stutz produced a piece for Huffington Post on the Catholic Church in Ireland, caught between tradition and modernity. Abe Kenmore looked at the plight of irregular migrants in Britain. Anna Spoerre and Kayli Plotner reported on crises affecting children in Latin America. And in an article for NPR's Goats and Soda, Rebecca Sananes shared stories of Cubans who are HIV-positive and living in sanitariums.

Until next week,

Tom Hundley,
Senior Editor