Three Daily Bruin staffers left for the the Philippines this week to cover the aftermath of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. The trip is sponsored by the Bridget O'Brien Scholarship Foundation, created in honor of a incredibly talented former Bruin photo editor who died in 2007.
To celebrate the launch of a new international reporting adventure, we’re taking a look back at some previous packages funded by the foundation.
In 2008, Bruin journalists traveled to Thailand to report on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Thailand and the harsh stigma attached to those who have the virus.
The strong network of family and friends she developed after living her whole life in the same village disintegrated after she got the news (she had the virus).
“Everybody in my house – they wouldn’t accept it,” Pakronphan said through an interpreter. “They said, ‘We can’t sit at the table with you, we can’t be close to you. We don’t want you to be here.’”
Exiled from her family, single with daughters and unable to find work, Pakronphan set out for sprawling Bangkok, where the only stigma she would have to face was from within.
Reporters spent a month in Cameroon in 2010 to uncover the story of young basketball players who strive to get out through a student visa and play ball in the United States.
In the center of the neighborhood, taxis are honking their way down the main road, barely missing the street vendors who are playing cards under umbrellas. And on an elevated plateau, children selling goods are watching a basketball game unfold on the chipped concrete.
The kids’ eyes get wide as they stare at Arnaud Noah Ndzna. The star of the scrimmage makes basketball beautiful. His strides resemble a gazelle, and he slashes through the lane almost untouched, as if he is performing a ballet on the concrete. He’s even got that NBA five-step-without-dribbling-no-travel thing down. Everything he does is effortless. He very well might be the biggest young talent in Cameroon.
“Wow,” his coach mutters, shaking his head as he watches. “Wow.”
The foundation was inspired by Bridget O'Brien’s impressive package, published in 2004. O'Brien slept on friend’s couches and in her car to pay for a trip to Nicaragua, where she reported on the affects of Fair Trade coffee in rural farming towns.
For eight years, coffee farmer Adolfo Talavera held classes in a dirt-floored room of his home while he wrote to government officials explaining the need for a school in the area. But no progress was made until he and other members of a Fair Trade coffee cooperative decided to acton their own. The co-op provided land, international non-government organizations donated materials, and parents of children in the community did the manual labor.
“Individually, we have no voice, but as a cooperative we can accomplish things,” Talavera said.
Follow our reporter Katie Shepherd (@katemshepherd) for live updates as they report on the latest package.