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Pulitzer Center

Reports from the field - an exclusive channel of Pulitzer Center reporting

Quick questions, difficult answers

David Morse, for the Pulitzer Center

Even if you've been following our blog, the answers to the following three questions may possibly surprise you.

What is the infant mortality rate in South Sudan?

Do the "roads" like the one to Wau that we bemoan offer South Sudan salvation or ruin?

What is the color of Wau?

Quick questions, difficult answers

Even if you've been following our blog, the answers to the following three questions may possibly surprise you.

What is the infant mortality rate in South Sudan?

Do the "roads" like the one to Wau that we bemoan offer South Sudan salvation or ruin?

What is the color of Wau?

The Road to Wau

David Morse, for the Pulitzer Center

Koor's reception at his family's compound in Kuajok was intense. His Dad kissed him repeatedly and hugged us all. They had sent a pickup truck to Akon to facilitate our travel north to Kuajok, and later they would facilitate our travel to Wau. Both parents expressed their gratitude upon seeing their son, and to us for having helped bring him "home." Later, a bull was slaughtered and we were feted with the best food I have tasted in Sudan. But nothing can compare with that first emotional encounter.

Arrival in Colombia - 13 June 07

13 June, 2007

Four hours after leaving New York on the Avianca flight for Bogota, the Caribbean coast of Colombia appeared, a electric green arc of banana plantations and thick jungle. It was strange to fly south instead toward the blood-charged cauldron of the Middle East where I have spent the last four years covering the conflict in Iraq. Colombia is a different story, one that is much closer to home.

Koor's message

Jen Marlowe, for the Pulitzer Center

Koor got a message last week.

It was from his father.

Koor had sent someone on a motorbike to go to all the towns and villages where he had heard his parents may be, trying to track them down. They were located in Kwajok, the regional capital of Northern Bahar el Ghazal. They sent a message back to Koor, asking him to come immediately.

Koor's message

Koor got a message last week.

It was from his father.

Koor had sent someone on a motorbike to go to all the towns and villages where he had heard his parents may be, trying to track them down. They were located in Kwajok, the regional capital of Northern Bahar el Ghazal. They sent a message back to Koor, asking him to come immediately.

Jen Goes Dinka

David Morse, for the Pulitzer Center

Last Thursday I watched the beginning of it: Jen's immersion into Dinka.

Jen Goes Dinka

Last Thursday I watched the beginning of it: Jen's immersion into Dinka.

We had just finished another sweltering day in classrooms, this time meeting with teachers at Akon school, which goes to Second Form, roughly equivalent to eighth grade. This meeting was partly outreach: Gabriel and Diyani were promoting the use of lesson plans, with specific objectives and measurable outcomes, sinch much of the teaching we see here is chaotic. And the half dozen teachers, most of whom had only elementary school education themselves, told us of their frustrations, which were many.

   The physical setting has to be described. The rooms are dark except for the glare from glassless windows. Dingy concrete, doors off hinges. Goats, like the children, come and go. The only recognizably schoolish accoutrement  is a painted blackboard in front, and in the upper grades some desks. The lower grades have no desks. The children sit in the dirt, clutching their notebooks and some UNICEF-provided materials. By the time they reach the upper grades, we notice it is all boys. The girls have disappeared; they are tending babies or working in the fields.

Gabriel Bol's tree

Gabriel Bol approached the tree slowly. I lingered behind him with the camera focused on him. On his first visit to Ariang a few days ago, the elders would not let him approach the tree. It had to be a separate occassion, they said, accompanied by its own rituals.

Gabriel was born under this tree and his placenta is buried there.

His mother is buried there as well.

Gabriel Bol's tree

Jen Marlowe, for the Pulitzer Center

Gabriel Bol approached the tree slowly. I lingered behind him with the camera focused on him. On his first visit to Ariang a few days ago, the elders would not let him approach the tree. It had to be a separate occasion, they said, accompanied by its own rituals.

Gabriel was born under this tree and his placenta is buried there.

His mother is buried there as well.

Where are the guys?

David Morse, for the Pulitzer Center

Here 'on the ground' in South Sudan, the ground is very very wet. It is a sea of mud. Yesterday afternoon a torrential rain accompanied by fierce wind blew down the tent where I had slept the first three nights in Akon. Wind slashed at trees and blew open the door of our tukul, everything lit in a greenish milky light and water sheeting two or three inches across the WHO compound where we are staying. I would guess eight or ten inches fell in the space of an hour.