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Thursday, August 06 2015 16:04
Among the television correspondents I most admire is a man with an unlikely name: Fred de Sam Lazaro, a regular on “PBS NewsHour.”
Since this program first appeared, I have valued its presentation of the news. To my mind, it far surpasses the other news broadcasts that are offered to us each evening.
Fred does not appear very often but, when he does, you can expect valuable material. Among other things, he seems to be a risk taker. Like other correspondents who venture to far places, he can provoke some anxiety among viewers.
But, unlike the heroic Lindsey Hilsum, Fred does not broadcast from major conflict zones. His work is to make us aware of lives that are lived outside the world spotlight.
Fred is the director of the Project for Undertold Stories at St. Mary’s University, which is based in Minnesota. He is a native of Bangalore, India, but did his studies at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth.
De Sam Lazaro’s work for PBS also includes regular contributions to the Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, which in turn find their way to the “NewsHour.” His reports, which I find to be extremely moving, often highlight the condition of poor and dispossessed people.
In a recent broadcast from his native India, he showed dramatically how some poor girls and women in the state of Bihar suffer at the hands of traffickers. Forced into prostitution, they cannot easily escape from the men in charge.
They also must put up with the local police. Much of the time, the latter are in league with the traffickers and refuse to arrest them. Arguing with the local police for the release of women and girls from their captors does not qualify as fun. I presume it causes some distress for Fred to keep observing this scene.
A horrifying question is asked by a woman trying to free girls from capture. “What happens,” she says, “when the person forcing you into sexual slavery is your mother?”
Fortunately, an extraordinary local woman works against this human trafficking. She, Rachira Gupta by name, has succeeded thus far in prosecuting 66 traffickers and buying time for young victims. “Year by year,” she says, “we negotiate for a child.”
Her efforts will allow a young girl to be free and to be in school, for at least a year. But in a society that believes girls are of less value than boys, it’s a continual struggle.
The report shows Fred in the streets and elsewhere documenting the problems of this society. Perhaps because he is an Indian himself, he avoids proposing facile solutions, and shows how this battle of freeing people from their burdens is never easy.
Looking at this situation from my american comfort zone, I feel grateful for de Sam Lazaro's work. He shows Americans that much of the world must struggle to give young people and their family members the chance to live decently.
He enlightens us. Since seeing the trafficking report last month I have not been able to forget it. The faces of the girls who are held captive and the women helping them to be free continue to haunt me.
In an era where huge numbers of young people continue to suffer the lack of decent living, I'm glad that some adults have the ciyrage to rescue them, and that some journalists document their lives.
These jjournalists stand out among the heroes in society who make a difference. I think Fred deSam Kazaro and other journalists like him deserve our recognition and our attention.
Let's hope that their good work will make a difference.