As a journalist living and working in a foreign country (I’m an Indian citizen, but live in the United States), I like to think of myself as being culturally sensitive and aware regardless of where I’m reporting from. But I hadn’t realized that the pressures of being a journalist can dampen some of that sensitivity. At least that’s what happened on my recent trip to Sri Lanka, where I faced a situation very different from what I expected.
I visited the country for the first time this summer to report on a mysterious kind of kidney disease that is affecting thousands of rice farmers and their families.
It was a hot afternoon in late July when I arrived at the village of Sandamalgama in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province. I’d learned that 10 out of the 27 families in this tiny village had at least one person with the disease. I was there to meet patients and their families to understand how the disease was affecting their daily lives.
Now, Sri Lanka isn’t the only country facing this mysterious form of kidney disease. A similar disease has cropped up in several Central American countries. And there, patients and their families were frustrated with their governments for not providing adequate health care facilities. They were also angry at the government and sugar companies, which employ the workers afflicted with the disease for not investing enough in uncovering the cause of the disease. READ MORE>>