Je Rêve de Paris: I Dream of Paris
In a suburb outside the Philippine capital of Metro Manila, is a street lined with large modern two-story homes called, “The Parisian Village.” It’s a neighborhood built ground up on euros funneled home by domestic workers living overseas in Paris, hence the name.
Through a highly connected network, odd jobs like ironing, babysitting, drying clothes are passed around, with sums that can average 1,000 euros—more if they can take on extra jobs here and there.
It is a lot more than the monthly P10,000 ($227 | €161) Rhoda and her husband, Ricky could make on their combined income as a public school teacher and jeepney driver, a common form of public transportation in the Philippines.
The couple borrowed a total of PhP 700,000 [equivalent to roughly $15,000 | €11,290] as a “placement fee” for Rhoda to get to Paris on a tourist visa. The placement fee is a package that comes with a suitcase, cold climate clothes and a briefing on how to credibly look and act like a tourist at the airport.
Rhoda now works as a nanny for a young child. In addition, she washes or irons clothes for others families who need looking for domestic services. Since labor in France is paid for by the hour, every hour, every euro counts and brings her closer to paying off the debt incurred [for] the placement fee.
It brings her no closer to returning to the Philippines, however.
In Paris as an undocumented migrant worker, Rhoda can neither travel home to visit her Ricky nor their 8-year old son. It has been three years now since she last saw them, but if she leaves France, she knows it will be the end of her family’s Parisian dream.
*Names have been changed.
Image and text by Ana P. Santos. Philippines, 2014.
What Absence Does
When Carlo’s* mother left to work in Dubai as a nanny, he was about 5 or 6 years old. He didn’t understand what “working abroad” meant and he was happy to see his mom go.
“She promised that when she came back, she would buy me a bike,” says Carlo, now twelve.
His mother has been away for some years now and the last time he saw her was last Christmas. She hasn’t been calling lately and he doesn’t know why. It’s been two or three months since they last spoke. He can’t call her because her employer will get mad if they see her talking on the phone.
Carlo’s grandmother and his mom’s sister take turns looking after him, but since both of them have to work, he often finds himself at home alone. Sometimes he doesn’t go to school because there is no lunch money or because no one will notice anyway.
"The saying, ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’ simply isn’t true sometimes,” says Lily Brul, president of the Laguna OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) Confederation.
“Sometimes absence just makes the heart forget. It doesn’t just happen between a husband and a wife. It also happens between mothers and their children.”
Text by Ana P. Santos. Image by Geric Cruz. Laguna, Philippines, 2014.
For her upcoming project, Pulitzer Center grantee Ana P. Santos will report on Filipino women working as nannies in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and in Paris, France entitled, “Who Takes Care of Nanny’s Children?”
Enduring Rifts: Chile 40 Years After the Pinochet Coup
Jeff Kelly Lowenstein and Jon Lowenstein looked into Chile’s past, present and future 40 years after the Pinochet coup. In this video, the brothers talk about the dictatorship’s enduring impact on Chilean society today, the presidential election in which Michelle Bachelet emerged victorious and a group of young, tech-savvy Chileans who grew up during or after the Pinochet regime and who are trying change the country.
Enduring Rifts in Santiago, Chile
Waiting to be picked up after voting at a local school in Santiago, Chile. Michelle Bachelet would face her childhood friend in a runoff election on December 15 to decide who will be president of Chile for the next four years.
Image and caption by Pulitzer Center grantee Jon Lowenstein via Instagram.
A latergram from Jon and Jeff Lowenstein covering Chile’s presidential elections of early 2014.
In the Field: Dan Grossman’s Equipment
While reporting on the tar sands, I’ll make audio and video recordings and shoot still photographs. Recording quality material in this many media requires a diverse variety of equipment. I spend a lot of time choosing and learning how to use my gear. Some of my equipment has joined me in the field for decades. Other items are brand new. As devices get old, outdated or worn, I upgrade with new equipment. In several decades as a journalist I’ve experienced many ways things can go wrong. Batteries have refused to hold a charge, cables have frayed and microphones have gone silent. I dropped one camera into a river and skewered another with an ice axe. Several times airlines have lost valuable and carefully packed bags.
I keep past experiences in mind as I pack. I try to anticipate everything that might break or get lost while I’m in the field. Often there is no possibility of repairing busted equipment or buying new items until I get home. So I try to bring everything I need to carry out my assignment successfully, no matter what happens. I generally pack my most important equipment in two or three hard plastic waterproof cases. The largest one case holds my main recording equipment and most critical accessories, such as batteries, microphones and cables. It contains several lenses, such as a telephoto lens for shooting wildlife from a distance and a wide angle lens for shooting in cramped spaces (such as inside an airplane). It also contains an assortment of microphones, for the same reason. Different situations demand different recording devices. In one or more smaller cases I pack items I use less often and spare parts, such as chargers, lens cleaning supplies and a variety of audio and power cables. Above are some pictures of what I bring. I hope that you’ll join me on my trip, beginning April 4th, when I put all this gear to use.
Images and text by Dan Grossman.
Follow Dan reporting from Alberta with aerial photographer Alex MacLean @GrossmanMedia.
Fragment of an image — Printing photos this afternoon in Beijing and I wasn’t happy with this print. Tore it up and threw it away, only to discover this piece looking back at me. If you’ve followed my Instagram feed for a while, you might recognize the image. It’s from a new story coming soon from my recent reporting in India.
Image and caption by Sean Gallagher, via Instagram. Beijing, 2014.
Rising pollution in India shows no sign of abating. Gallagher’s latest Pulitzer Center-sponsored project looks at both rural and urban areas steeped in toxic waste.
Sun Yunfan and Leah Thompson explain fire barrels and other vestiges of rural life in China for sixth graders at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School in DC.
Image and caption by Mark Schulte, via Instagram. Washington, D.C., 2014.
A documentary by grantees Yunfan and Leah focused on the Bishan Project, a back-to-the-land initiative taking place in rural China.
As China’s urban strongholds grow, many villages turn obsolete, particularly in the once prosperous region of Huizhou. The movement to return to rural living is led by urban artists and intellectuals looking towards alternative development in the countryside.
Yunfan and Leah’s documentary looking at one such village premiered in DC at the 2014 Environmental Film Festival.
A picture of a township near Johannesburg. The dark and dense housing is conducive to the spread of TB.
Image and caption by Meera Senthilingam. South Africa, 2014.
Pulitzer Center grantee Meera is reporting from South Africa for her upcoming project on the tuberculosis epidemic in South Africa.
Climate change is threatening sea-level villages like this one on the island of Viti Levu, in Fiji. Daku Bukanivanua’s house once stood here. But rainfall, heavier over the past few years, has been pouring off a nearby mountain and into the village. The sea has begun pushing in the other way, and Bukanivanua’s home has washed away.
The government would like to relocate the village. But the village has been here more than 100 years, and the people are reluctant to abandon it.
Caption and image by Joanne Silberner. Fiji, 2014.
Project on mental health and climate change forthcoming. More from Joanne, here reporting on cancer in the developing world.
To uncover the truth, it’s often best to land “on the ground.” But sometimes obstacles—physical or bureaucratic or even mental—obscure our view. Then, it’s sometimes better to take to the sky and get perspective.
Photographer Alex MacLean has been doing just that—snapping photos from the air—for nearly 40 years. His photos reveal the overlooked scale of American car culture. They peek over the fences of military bases. They connect the dots between digging coal and generating electricity.
Alex will ride the skies above Alberta’s oil sands for a week beginning April 4th. We know the ground beneath Alberta’s boreal forest—saturated with an estimated 150 billion barrels of oil—rivals all other troves of oil apart from those of Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. We know Alberta’s rich deposits underlie a territory of 54,000 square miles, as large as Iowa. But we can barely comprehend numbers this big.
Alex will help us. He’ll show us waste ponds nearly the size of Manhattan and dump trucks that could swallow a McMansion whole.
We’ll report from the ground as well. We’ll talk to regulators, mining companies, the miners themselves and many others. Stay tuned.
Images by Alex MacLean with text by Dan Grossman.
Follow Dan and Alex reporting from Alberta @GrossmanMedia.
Grossman’s TED Book Deep Water is available to download.