Women in Malawi continue to use skin lightening creams in the face of mounting legal restrictions and evidence of the long-term health risks the products present, from blotchy skin to cancer. With the help of Press Start donors, veteran Malawian investigative journalist Collins Mtika plans to look at how and why such products continue to enter Malawi. A crucial question is whether women are aware of the risks associated with continued use of the creams.
Nigerian radio journalist Ruth Akinwunmi-King’s interest in the dangerous maternal condition called pre-eclampsia started when it almost killed her and her unborn child. Although tens of thousands of Nigerian women die each year during pregnancy, the government spends just $5 a day per person on health care. Ruth is counting on the generosity of Press Start donors to help launch an investigation into why so many Nigerian women are ignorant of pre-eclampsia.
Decades ago, at its most vast, the Ngong forest outside Nairobi stretched across more than 2,900 hectares, or about 11.2 square miles. Rapid development has cut it down to less than half that size, and poverty and corruption threaten the remaining 1,200 hectares. The forest literally helps Nairobians breathe, filtering copious carbon emissions, and it serves as a refuge for wildlife and harried city dwellers alike. Joseph Gathecha aims to make a documentary series on the forest’s plight and efforts to save it.
Corruption is stubborn and widespread in Morocco. During his 10 months in a Moroccan prison, Hicham Mansouri, a respected free-press advocate, saw evidence of a thriving black market behind bars, run by inmates and guards, likely with protection from the police and judiciary. Now in exile in France, Mansouri aims to use Press Start funding to build on the research he’s already done and compile a comprehensive investigation.
raised $3,190 out of $1,900
Inhuman conditions, coercion, and violence are rife in Belarus’ police and prison systems. Victims face retribution if they file a complaint, which is virtually guaranteed to be ignored anyway. Some prisoners – whether opponents of the regime or criminals – even die with no one held accountable. Photographer Max Sarychau, who has a biography stuffed with awards, wants to create a series of portraits of those who have endured cruel and degrading punishment in Belarus.
raised $2,150 out of $1,420
In villages across Moldova, most able-bodied adults have left for jobs in the cities or abroad, leaving only the elderly and children to preside over the villages’ deaths. Education, health care, and even human companionship are becoming scarce in the country’s rural areas. Max Polyakov and his crew of multimedia journalists want to create an interactive feature to show what it’s really like to be deserted in your hometown.
raised $1,500 out of $1,500
Lebanon is increasingly a “watched” society. Security agencies have recently gained access to the telecom data of all residents and visitors, while security cameras have sprouted across Beirut. Little is known about how all this private information is used. Elham Barjas and Hussein Mehdy will investigate and make suggestions for reform.
Amindeh Blaise Atabong is a freelancer in Cameroon who has covered corruption and terrorism. For this project, he will travel to the southwestern corner of his country, a region rich in resources but lacking in the basic conditions for a dignified life. Atabong fears the poverty and despair of the Ndian division could breed the type of unrest that plagues Nigeria’s Niger Delta, just across the border.
Ray Mwareya has won international recognition for his reporting on Zimbabwe’s environment and southern Africa's marginalized people. Now he seeks to tell the story of the indigent women who give birth in the subsistence-gold-mining zone on the border of Mozambique and Zimbabwe and are not allowed to register their infants as citizens of either country.
Jose Acho has covered Argentina’s poor and powerless for years. For Press Start, he aims to travel to one of the country’s most deprived regions to document the theft of land from indigenous people and the poverty and hardship it has caused.
raised $660 out of $1,520
Veteran journalist Ruslan Harbachou has repeatedly won awards for his investigations into abuses of power in Belarus. He is now looking into reports of safety and environmental problems linked to the construction of Belarus’ only nuclear power plant, a project that has many on edge given the country’s suffering after the Chernobyl disaster.
raised $590 out of $560
Tatiana Kozak has covered Ukraine’s pivotal protest movement, the fall of a president, a secessionist war, and the seizure of Crimea, Now she plans to seek clues to the fate of war-torn eastern Ukraine in the experience of other post-Soviet countries that have endured decades of secessionist hostilities. Press Start will match all contributions made to Kozak’s campaign.
raised $1,804 out of $1,725
Chantal Flores has walked the desert with desperate Mexican families searching for clues to the fates of their missing loved ones. Now as Colombia's civil war nears an end, she asks what lessons that country's long, grim experience with disappearances can offer the legions of bereaved in Mexico, and how forensic science is advancing the search for unmarked graves.
raised $950 out of $950
A seasoned investigator recognized by the country’s EU delegation and others for her human rights reporting, Funes aims to look into the alleged cover-up of the links between a local official and a series of gang rapes of young women.
raised $1,120 out of $1,120
Co-founder of the Independent Journalists’ Network as a vehicle to circumvent the pervasive influence of political and business figures on Armenia’s media. Melikbekyan is working on a documentary about the stigma and discrimination suffered by the rising number of HIV-positive people in his socially conservative country.
raised $450 out of $450
Editor in Chief of Mama Voice magazine. Recognized for her writing on conflict and women’s empowerment, Namwezi N’ibamba proposes to report on why her eastern Congolese province lacks potable water even after donors have poured millions of dollars into local water projects.
raised $790 out of $780
Founder of SCOOP Macedonia, an independent investigative reporting network whose work has been recognized repeatedly and has resulted in reforms championed at the highest level of government. Hadzi-Zafirova proposes to undertake an ambitious assessment of the state of Macedonia’s hospitals.
raised $560 out of $560
A two-time recipient of the Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press whose work has helped save artifacts of Beirut’s Roman past. Battah proposes to investigate why efforts to preserve his country’s archeological record so often give way to development projects backed by well-connected business people or even government officials.
raised $1,730 out of $1,680