Child Soldiers: Graduating From the School of Hard Knocks Isn’t Easy

Thein Htut Oo has the Burmese word for “mother” tattooed on his right bicep and “father” on his left. Like young men the world over, he got the tattoos while serving in the military, in this case Myanmar’s military…

Divorce, Doggy Style

They did everything together. When Aleksandra Nejman cruised around Chicago in her convertible, Frankie rode shotgun. When she ate at a local Italian restaurant, Frankie went with her. And when she worked on her computer at home, Frankie sat beside her, gently touching her hand…

Rosie the LGBT Riveter

Bev Hickok remembers the deafening noise, the ceaseless mechanical hammer blows of women riveting airplanes together. She remembers how everyone smoked on breaks and that all the women wore pants. But mostly she remembers the friends, the women who invited her to sit with them at lunch her first day on the assembly line at Douglas Aircraft Company in Santa Monica, California, in 1942…

Rim Fire: Prisoners Helping to Battle Massive Blaze

On their third day on the job fighting the California Rim Fire, Alan Jackson and his team were near Groveland, a small town just outside Yosemite National Park in central California, cutting containment lines. “It was so smoky nobody could see nobody,” says Jackson. “You couldn’t see where you were driving…”

The Other Mexicans

On a dusty highway in California’s Central Valley, a black Chevy truck heads toward bright fields of grapes dotting the barren brown earth. It is a warm June day, and the truck’s windows are cracked open to get a little air. Out wafts a rap song: Spanish rhymes interspersed with the occasional English phrase—“hell yes.” Toward the middle of the song a third language beats its way in. “That is Mixteco,” says the driver, Miguel Villegas…

Giant Rats Trained to Sniff Out Tuberculosis in Africa

On a recent Friday morning, at a laboratory in southern Africa, Tariq correctly identified all six spit samples known to be positive for tuberculosis, the world’s second most fatal infectious disease. Tariq is no scientist, though. He’s a lab rat…

Clearing Land Mines Becomes Women’s Work in Mozambique and Beyond

When Biatriz Hernesto was a child, she and her school friends longed to pick fruit in the bush behind her grandparents’ house. They knew that’s where the best marula fruits and other wild treats grew. But they also knew the area contained land mines, so they seldom ventured there…

In DRC, Armed Groups Dwindle But Still Aggravate Troubled Region

Several dozen people wait outside the chief’s office to attend a meeting on the stealing of crops by armed combatants living in Virunga National Park. It is something that happens “nearly every day” said Eric Mashagiro, the mayor of Rugari, a rural region of about 19,000 people bordering the park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s east. The main culprits, he said, are the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), living in the park’s 3,000 square miles of forest and working in collaboration with local armed groups and ex-combatants, who provide intelligence…

(A three-part series)

Zimbabwe’s Lemba Build First Synagogue, But Struggle to Keep the Faithful

The village mosque is easy to spot, a modest one-story structure not far from the main road, just a little nicer and larger than the surrounding homes. “There is one in every Lemba town,” said Modreck Maeresera, coordinator of the Lemba Cultural Association in Zimbabwe…

Not a Drop (of Tap Water) to Drink in San Lucas, California

Posted in the front office of the San Lucas elementary school are the usual notices—a newspaper clipping about a local boy playing college football, an autism flier, a calendar. The warning about nitrate contamination in the drinking water is to the right of the cafeteria menu (Fridays are always pizza) and directly below the note about the sale of school “spirit paws”…

A Homecoming Racked With Guilt and Shame for Guatemalan Migrant Children

They arrive without shoelaces—Ana with her long hair, Juan with his nervous, darting eyes and Adan with his anger. Because they are children and are traveling alone, they are escorted from the airplane to a cordoned-off section of the main building at the Guatemalan air force base at La Aurora international airport. The government psychologist assigned to watch over them tells them they are lucky: Their shoelaces were taken before they left the United States, but at least they weren’t handcuffed…

(A three-part series)

Married Off in Mozambique

Olinda dropped out of school after giving birth to her first child. She was in the seventh grade. Like many girls in this village in southern Mozambique, she had hopes of becoming a teacher; now, she wishes the same for her daughter…

Outreach On The Runway

Divine Chanel takes a drag on her cigarette and studies her profile in the mirror. “This is me,” she announces to no one in particular. “Iʼm done.” It is Saturday evening around 7:30 p.m., and she has just spent an hour powdering, puffing and stenciling her face. Later she will add black boots with 6-inch heels and a short black and white designer swing dress that is fitted above the waist and zips down the front…

Time | NYT | BBC

Phnom Penh’s No 1 Ladies Taxi Scooter Agency

When they show up at a Phnom Penh hotel in their tight red T-shirts and skinny jeans, people tend to get the wrong idea about Renou Chea and her fellow Moto Girl Tour guides…

A Soviet-Era Mind-Set at the Market

We were enjoying a late-morning cup of coffee in one of the outdoor cafes of Banska Bystrica, preparing to head home, when my mother suggested that we buy some berries. In Slovakia, strawberries are a summer treat, and my mother was excited to buy them for my kids. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that in California, where I live, we eat berries year round…

A Sudden Breach in Uganda

A few years ago, when I was still relatively new to the tour-guide business, a company hired me to show an American photographer around Rwanda and Uganda. Six days in, we had toured a rain forest in the southwest of Rwanda, spent two days with the mountain gorillas and crossed over the Ugandan border. Now we were in the town of Kabale, in the hills of Southwestern Uganda. Everything was going well…

Rape Is a Weapon in Burma’s Kachin State, But the Women of Kachin Are Fighting Back

She had just finished describing how she had been raped by two men, dressed as policemen, when more police showed up. These police weren’t wearing uniforms, but everyone in the village in Burma’s northern Shan state knew who they were. And that’s when I stopped asking the questions and started being questioned myself…

My Brother’s Killer is Now My Friend

Denise Taylor had just graduated from college when her brother Bo was murdered. For years she struggled to come to terms with the loss. Then she spent more than a decade trying to get her brother’s killer out of prison…

other

Dispatch from Armenia: The Not So Frozen War

I was in Armenia to report on a program as innocuous as they come—the prevention of blindness in premature babies. But during a meeting in the city of Yerevan with one of the humanitarian organizations involved in this project, the conversation turned to war. The leader of the organization introduced several members of the group as “war heroes,” then offered a half- hearted apology for bringing politics into the conversation about infant disabilities. Another member corrected her. There was nothing to apologize for, he said. It wasnʼt politics. It was the reality of life in Armenia. Anyone who fought in the war was a hero…

‘I Want to Go Back’: In Guatemala, US-Born Kids Struggle After Their Parents’ Deportation

Amavilia remembers the United States. She remembers watching Dora the Explorer and eating ice cream at a Chinese buffet. She remembers hanging out with friends after school, living in a three-bedroom apartment, and speaking English. She also remembers what relatives told her about her parents’ home country of Guatemala…

Exiled From U.S., Cambodian Felons Use American Know-How To Get Ahead

A strange thing is happening to the tour business in Cambodia’s second largest city. The sleepy town of Battambang is becoming known for its Khmerican service…

Could This Man Control College Basketball?

Levan Mikeladze floored his Audi A5 on a straight stretch of road in Tbilisi. He is 23, smokes two packs a day and has the beginning of a paunch. He boasts that he was 19 when he negotiated a 2 million euro contract and that he is the Democratic Republic of Georgia’s first basketball agent certified by FIBA, the world governing body for basketball…

Behind Enemy Lines

Natalya Zhukova clearly remembers the day she first sensed something was wrong with her youngest son: December 11, 1994, the start of the Russian war in Chechnya. She was strolling through a tree-lined park in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod, 450km south-west of Moscow, when she suddenly felt disoriented…

Lost Boys, Torn Families

It was war that drove them from Africa, but love is leading them back. The Lost Boys, refugees from a long and bloody battle in their homeland, are reconnecting with the lives and loved ones they left behind. In the four years since 200 of the young men were resettled in Louisville, some have learned of family members still in villages and refugee camps. Others have returned to their homeland to try to find wives…

Pain & Elegance

She had a childhood out of Dickens and rose to be a world-class Paralympian. What propelled her togreatness? 

Riding Along With A Mobile Marijuana Dispensary

My first drug deal was back in high school. The student who sat next to me in American Government handed me a baggie to pass to a kid sitting a few seats away. The money transferred hands the same way, kid to kid, just like we passed handouts on the judicial, legislative and executive branches…

Unamerican?: The Fate of Deported Non-Citizen Criminals

They are not the most sympathetic characters. Veasna Sany goes by her former gang name “China.” She has been convicted of possession and sale of cocaine, battery, and prostitution. Gnan “Mikki” Kroeungʼs convictions include terrorist threats and possession of a firearm. “Pich,” a former methamphetamine addict, was caught engaging in credit card fraud…

The Village Where Women Are Paid To Be Mothers

Elisabeth Hubney will never forget the day, more than a decade ago, when she became a mother. It happened very suddenly. One morning, a social worker drove up to her home and deposited six siblings on her doorstep, ranging in age from three to 12. When she asked where the children's belongings were, she was told that all they had were a few dirty clothes…

Diane Cornelius Brings the Joy of Weddings to Haiti

With her aid, 109 Haitian brides have tied the knot in her gowns, in a land where a wedding is far more than simply a ceremony…

Wesley Korir Running For A Cause—And Eventually President of Kenya

When documentarian Michael Del Monte says Boston was something, he isn’t talking about the bombings near the finish line. He isn’t talking about the winner of the 2013 Boston Marathon either. He is talking about the guy who finished fifth, Wesley Korir, a sinewy 30-year-old with a mischievous grin…

What It’s Like To Be Married To The Men Doing ‘The most dangerous conservation job in the world’

It was 2006 the first time Aline Burasa fled her home. The second time was in 2007 or 2008, she can’t remember which. In 2012, she was forced off her land a third time. It could easily happen again. And every time it does, her family has to start all over…