July 20, 2011


A recent article in “Vogue” magazine, “Keeping the Faith” (4/11) chronicles the story of a young journalist who discovered her profession could be used as a tool for social change. On assignment in Morocco, she encountered a warren of dark dwellings — overcrowded and filthy — where families huddled for shelter as they eked out a daily existence. Marisa Katz, the freelance journalist, made friends with the residents who, as a gesture of hospitality, offered what little they had: The clothes off their backs. Returning to the United States, the memory of these people haunted her, so she applied for and won a grant that would allow her to profile these dwellers of the “The Hole.” 

She returned to Morocco and focused her attention on the plight of children. She set up blogs on her computer and allowed each of them to tell his or her story. The result was stunning. The tales were graphic and moving. Katz felt certain the words of these children would shine a light on their abject poverty and that of their families.

(photo: Ashfag Yusufzai/IPS)

One child in the group was shy, however. When the time came for her to write about her life, she insisted she had nothing to say. The journalist began asking questions. What were the sounds of The Hole? What were its smells? What were the child’s first impressions as she awoke each morning?

A profile emerged that was more than one of poverty. The story was also one of dreams and aspirations. Katz and her pupil worked for three hours and when the blog was done, the girl stared into the screen, uncertain of what she had written.  Was it good enough? Yes, she decided. It was. She hit the “send” button to share her message with the world:  

                        “We are forgotten here. With this blog I can write about my suffering and maybe I will be heard.”

The pages of my Vogue magazine were wet with tears as I finished the article.  “Yes,” I wanted to say to the child. “Your words have been heard though they are unspoken.” To be human, one listens with the heart.