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17 projects funded under winter 2016 round

Protecting children’s rights in Vietnam; the Colombian peace process; and life inside Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp are just some of the topics that will be reported on by the successful applicants of this year’s Simon Cumbers Media Fund.

Seventeen journalists from across the country have been awarded funding in the winter 2016 round. A total of 32 project proposals were received and the funding awarded to the successful applicants is in excess of €52,000.

Details of the successful applicants to the winter 2016 round of the main scheme are as follows:

  • Rosita Boland and Brenda Fitzsimons have been awarded funding to travel to Laos to report on the ongoing efforts to clear the unexploded ordnance dropped on the country by the US during the Vietnam War. Rosita’s project will include a visit to COPE, an NGO that makes artificial limbs for those who have lost arms and legs to landmines, as well as an investigation into where the $90 million of funding declared by President Barack Obama in September 2016 to help clear the ordnance is being directed. Their work will be published in The Irish Times.
  • Kait Bolongaro has been awarded funding to travel to Vietnam to report on child labour issues and the importance of protecting children’s rights. Over the past three decades, Vietnam has enjoyed one of the fastest GDP growths per capita in the world. Despite this, forced child labour remains a major issue in the country with children as young as 11 being targeted by traffickers and forced to work for little or no pay. Kait’s report will focus on the human cost of child labour while also aiming to shed light on how international trade laws impact those living and working in the country. Her work will be published in The Irish Times.
  • Graham Clifford has been funded to travel to Swaziland to report on the AIDS epidemic that affects 27 per cent of their population. For generations, the small landlocked country of Swaziland has had the highest rate of HIV in the world. However, substantial progress has been made in recent years and HIV rate in Swaziland is stabilising. Graham’s project will examine the country’s attempts to become economically self-sufficient and how getting a hold on HIV can give the children of today opportunities unattainable by their parents. His work will appear in the Irish Independent and will be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1.
  • Mary Cody has been awarded funding to travel to Uganda for her piece on the human cost of cervical cancer in Uganda. Mary’s project aims to bring Irish audiences’ attention to the reality of medical care in Uganda by reflecting on the differences in access to treatment in the developed and developing worlds. Her work will appear in Iconic Newspapers’ Kilkenny People and will be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra.
  • Clifford Coonan has been awarded funding to travel to Vietnam to report on women’s unpaid work and its effects on gender inequality. Last year, women’s unpaid care work (UCW) accounted for more than 20 per cent of Vietnam’s GDP, according to a report co-funded by Irish Aid that looked at gender inequality in the country. Clifford’s project aims to highlight UCW’s value as an indicator for GDP calculation, as well as examining how acknowledgment of women’s unpaid care work can boost gender equality in Vietnam. His work will be published in The Irish Times.
  • Bill Corcoran has been awarded funds to travel to Zimbabwe to report on the role development agencies can play as a fragile conflict-affected state transitions to its next phase. His project will also look at how local rights organisations and civil rights movements are trying to create spaces in which ordinary people can give their views on where their country might go next. His work will be published in The Irish Times.
  • Lorraine Courtney has been awarded funds to travel to Jordan to report on life in Zaatari refugee camp. A cluster of UNHCR tents when it opened in July 2012, it has turned into the fourth biggest city in Jordan, with more than 85,000 official inhabitants. The project will look at life for refugees in the camp and the crucial work done by the UNHCR and the 30 other NGOs in Zaatari. Lorraine’s report will be published in the Irish Independent.
  • Muireann De Barra has been awarded funding to travel to Malawi to produce a radio documentary exploring the access to justice and human rights for a mounting prison population. The project will look at the work of organisations which support and enhance the capacity of Malawi’s criminal justice state agencies, as well as speaking to those directly affected by the escalating crisis. The documentary will be broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm.
  • Nwabuogo Enwerem has been funded to travel to Nigeria to examine how religious crisis, inter-tribal conflicts and communal conflicts have affected the livelihoods, dignity and basic human rights of the Nigerian people. The project will also document the work of NGOs in the affected areas. Nwabuogo will produce a radio piece for Near FM and will also curate a photo exhibition at Fingal Libraries.
  • Peter Geoghegan has been funded to travel to Bosnia to report on the legacy of the Bosnian War. In March 1992, Bosnia declared its independence from Yugoslavia. Within weeks, the country had descended into civil war. The conflict – the worst seen in Europe since the end of World War II – would last more than three years and leave at least 100,000 people dead. Through interviews and fieldwork, Peter’s project will report on the struggles for civil society in Bosnia 25 years after the war began and the cross-community political movements seeking to build alternatives. His work will be published in the Sunday Business Post.
  • Jennifer Hough has been awarded funding to travel to Greece to report on how young refugees are being received on the frontlines of their host nations. Almost 90,000 unaccompanied children sought asylum in Europe in 2015. Europol estimated that at least 10,000 of these child refugees have gone missing since arriving in Europe with many feared to have become victims of exploitation by criminal gangs. The project aims to give a voice to these young people and will look at how a small number of NGOs are coming up with innovative ways to help these at-risk youths. Jennifer’s work will be published in The Irish Times.
  • Thomas Hubert has been awarded funding to travel to Uganda and Kenya to examine how infrastructure and digital technologies can help local farmers to connect with buyers, access credit and financial transactions, and transport produce to consumption centres. Thomas’ report will examine what it will take to turn local subsistence farmers into commercial ones, the benefits to them and the wider economy, as well as looking at risks involved. His article will feature in the Irish Farmers Journal.
  • Aisling Hussey has been awarded funds to travel to Vietnam to report on the impact trade is having on the country and its people. A number of global players are present in Vietnam, including Danone, Nestle, Fonterra and FrieslandCampina and the country’s GDP growth since 1990 has been among the fastest in the world. Ireland’s trade with Vietnam has been growing since 2010. Aisling’s project will examine the effect this trade has had on Vietnam, whether the emergence of these markets is indicative of improving conditions and whether the gap between rich and poor is increasing. The article will appear in the Irish Farmers Journal.
  • Della Kilroy has been awarded funds to travel to Jordan to produce a three-part radio series that will examine what life is like for unaccompanied and undocumented Iraqi and Syrian minors living in Jordan, and also how the arrival of refugees has affected locals and the economy of the developing nation. The series will focus on documenting the daily lives and challenges of people on the ground, as well as looking at the work being doing by several Irish aid organisations working in the field. The radio series will be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1.
  • Angela Mahon has been awarded funding to report from Burma/Bangladesh on the plight of the Rohingya people. For the past 25 years, the Rohingya people have been fleeing Myanmar (Burma) to refugee camps in neighbouring countries, such as Bangladesh. Labelled variously as ‘the stateless’, ‘Asia’s new boat people’ and ‘the disowned and denied’, this ethnic Muslim minority claim that the Burmese government is persecuting them and committing acts of genocide. Angela’s project will include a visit to Kutapalong, the main refugee camp, and will look at the importance of integration, and the negative impact segregation can have on a society as a whole. Angela’s radio documentary will be broadcast on KCLR 96FM.
  • David McKechnie has been funded to travel to Colombia to report on the Colombian peace process and the obstacles it faces. On 2nd October 2016, a peace deal agreed between the Colombian government and FARC rebels to end 52 years of fighting was rejected by referendum. The result was a shock to many, especially those in civil society, who have worked for peace. Despite the revised accord between the Government and the FARC, ratified in November 2016, implementation challenges remain and the article proposes to focus on the political and development context surrounding these challenges. It will be published in The Irish Times.
  • Robert Shortt has been awarded funds to travel to Colombia. His project will focus on the estimated five to six million people who have become internally displaced as a result of the 52-year conflict between FARC guerrillas and the Colombian government. Robert’s report will seek to explain some of the difficulties behind the peace process, including land restitution and post-conflict security and development, as well as looking at whether Colombia can successfully deal with the drugs trade which at times has threatened to topple the state. His report will be broadcast on RTÉ One’s Primetime.

Check out our Project Showcase for articles and video by recipients of the Fund, and the blog for the journalists’ experiences.