April 2009


For Mexican women of a certain age, finding decent work can be nearly impossible. Vicki Ponce was in her 50s, selling tamales on the street, when she and some women friends decided to try their luck in the electronic waste business. They butted heads with local officials and withstood the taunts of jealous neighbors. Today Las Chicas Bravas (“The Tough Girls”) spend their days dismantling old computers and TV sets and selling the parts to buyers around the world. Now if only they could convince the mayor to turn on the power.

Ingrid Lobet’s profile of Vicki Ponce aired on Marketplace on 29 April, the latest segment in the WORKING series. If you didn’t have a chance to hear it, please check it out online. You can also see photos of Vicki and read Ingrid’s reporter’s notebook.

On the subject of Mexico – our thoughts are with the people of that good country as they head into two of their most important holidays – Labor Day and Cinco de Mayo – under strict instructions not to gather in public. Estamos con Ustedes, amigos!

I’m tickled to report that Homelands has won the 2008 Sigma Delta Chi Award for Radio Feature Reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists. This is for the WORKING project, our collaboration with Marketplace about workers in the global economy. It’s Homelands’ 20th national or international award.

The SDX Awards, given annually since 1939, are for “excellence in journalism.” This year’s winners include NPR, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Chicago Tribune.

The WORKING project is almost over – just four more profiles scheduled, then we fold the tents. We’re busily putting together a proposal for a series on hunger. We’ll keep you posted on that. If you have any ideas about sources of funding, please let us know!

Best wishes from Nairobi,

Jon