WORKING

Projects

Twenty-nine profiles of workers in the global economy, broadcast as a special monthly feature on Marketplace. Also an interactive website featuring photo galleries, reporter’s notebooks, and the Worker Browser tool (none of which is still online, alas).

“WORKING” won the Sigma Delta Chi Award for radio feature reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, and individual awards from the Third Coast International Audio Festival and the New York Festivals.

Dates

2007-2009
SORT: Newest Oldest Name A-Z Name Z-A
  • Runner

    Runner

    Salina Kosgei always loved to run. At 16, she decided to make a career of it. Sixteen years and two kids later she found herself elbow to elbow with the defending champ in the most prestigious marathon in the world, with the finish line in sight.

  • Shipbreaking Worker

    Shipbreaking Worker

    Ismael “Babu” Hussein works as an assistant in one of Bangladesh’s shipbreaking yards, where armies of laborers dismantle old vessels the way ants devour a carcass. The work is perilous, the bosses abusive, the hours exhausting. Heavy stuff for a 13-year old kid.

  • Banker

    Banker

    Risk, says Brandon Davies, is how we learn and grow as people. We should embrace it, not avoid it. At least that’s what he said in the summer of 2008. Then the global financial system collapsed.

  • Electronics Recycler

    Electronics Recycler

    Vicki Ponce was in her 50s, selling tamales in the street, when she and some middle-aged women friends decided to start a company dismantling old TV sets. Business is good. It would be even better if the jealous mayor would turn on the electricity.

  • Human Smuggler

    Human Smuggler

    For 30 years, Alidad has been smuggling Afghans on a secret nighttime passage through the mountains of western Pakistan into Iran. “I have a lot of sad memories,” he says.

  • Marriage Broker

    Marriage Broker

    If you’re a Korean man who wants to marry a Vietnamese woman, Hang Nga is your go-to gal. Vietnam’s government frowns on the match-making business, but Nga says it’s worth the risk. The money means a brighter future for her two young children.

  • Circus Performer

    Circus Performer

    Svitlana Svystun spends ten months a year traveling around the United Kingdom. Her coworkers include a human cannonball, a crossbow artist, and a crew of Hungarian roustabouts. It’s a dangerous, nomadic life. But it’s surprisingly domestic, too.

  • Labor Inspector

    Labor Inspector

    Leandro Carvalho had a comfortable job as an insurance agent on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach when he decided to join Brazil’s anti-slavery task force. He says he won’t quit until the last slave is freed.

  • Miner

    Miner

    Fidele Musafiri spends his days, and often his nights, banging away at a wall of stone in a crude tunnel under a Congolese mountain. He’s a small man with a hammer, a spike, and a dream of striking it rich. But danger is never far away.

  • Pirate

    Pirate

    Agus Laodi could barely feed his family with his earnings as a cocoa farmer. So he left his Indonesian village to seek his fortune on an island in the Strait of Malacca. Now he slips out at night to rob cargo ships with a machete.

  • Industrial Designer

    Industrial Designer

    Industrial designers are the anonymous people who decide how the things around us look and feel. For Raffaella Mangiarotti, design isn’t about colors or shapes. It’s about solving problems.

  • Sex Worker

    Sex Worker

    Samanta plies her trade in Baku, an oil boom town. In a corrupt and violent society, it can be a very dangerous life – especially for a woman who was born a man.

  • Iceberg Wrangler

    Iceberg Wrangler

    With the Newfoundland fishing industry in the tank, Whyman Richards says he’ll give anything a try. So he steers his homemade boat toward the dreaded mountains of ice that break off the Greenland ice sheet every summer.

  • Tannery Worker

    Tannery Worker

    Mohmen left his village at 13 and quickly found work stacking animal skins in one of Karachi’s many tanneries. Now 17, he’s still doing the same job. The longer he works, the deeper his debt. “I don’t want to smile,” Mohmen says, “but it’s all I can do.”

  • Movie Director

    Movie Director

    Nigeria’s Nollywood film industry may be the third largest in the world, but with little government support, daily power failures, no real studios, and rudimentary equipment, Nigerian filmmakers must be masters of making do. That describes Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen to a tee.

  • Trader

    Trader

    Hussein Ralib Esfandiari crosses back and forth between Dubai and his native Iran laden with whatever bargains he can find at market. The Gulf is one of the most politically volatile regions on earth. But politics is the least of Hussein’s worries.

  • Cargo Agent

    Cargo Agent

    Foreign workers have the same rights in Saudi Arabia, as long as they’re alive. But when non-Muslims die there, as thousands do each year, they have to go home for burial. And somebody’s got to get them there. Meet Wahid Khan Habibula.

  • Chocolate Taster

    Chocolate Taster

    Chloé Doutre-Roussel is in great demand around the world – not just because of her extraordinary palate and her memory for scents and flavors but because of her brutal honesty. “Diplomacy is not one of my known traits,” she laughs. Nor is self-satisfaction.

  • Cabinet Minister

    Cabinet Minister

    Gordana Jankuloska’s assignment is clear: to clean up decades of police corruption and violence in a former East Bloc country desperate to catch up with the rest of Europe. It’s a lot to ask of a young woman with a taste for nature shows and stuffed animals. She says bring it on.

  • Textile Worker

    Textile Worker

    Marco Moreno’s parents were tailors, with a tiny shop in a working-class neighborhood in Lima, Peru. He and his brothers decided they could do better. But nobody said it would be easy.

  • Basketball Scout

    Basketball Scout

    Nigerian Sam Ahmedu is a foot soldier in the NBA’s army of international recruiters. A few of his finds have made it to the pros, but that’s not what motivates him.

  • Lobster Diver

    Lobster Diver

    Romulo Greham, a Miskito Indian on Honduras’ Caribbean coast, almost lost his life while diving for lobsters for the U.S. market. Now he’s trying to keep other divers from the repeating his mistakes.

  • Oil Worker

    Oil Worker

    Blair Ghent left a good job in Toronto to return home to rural Newfoundland. But work is hard to come by on the island, and soon he found himself joining thousands of unemployed Newfoundlanders commuting 3,000 miles to the oil sands fields of Alberta.

  • Silk Merchant

    Silk Merchant

    Chanta Nguon says Cambodian women are supposed to be quiet and cool, like moonlight. She’d rather be sunlight.

  • Express Mail Driver

    Express Mail Driver

    Mr. Wang has traveled through Beijing picking up perhaps a quarter of a million packages destined for dozens of countries. Does he ever wonder what’s inside? “No,” he says, “I just want to make some money!”

  • Pop Singer

    Pop Singer

    Diana Dimova says she’s never so moved as when she sings the ancient mountain music of her native Bulgaria. But it’s no way for an ambitious, attractive young woman to make a living.

  • Fixer

    Fixer

    Tarek Haidar Eskandar can deliver an interview with a rebel commander or an interview with a victim of the latest catastrophe. Or at least that’s the promise. It’s a seat-of-the-pants business, and Tarek’s a seat-of-the-pants type of guy.

  • Metal Worker

    Metal Worker

    Pedro Córdoba’s says his job in a giant Peruvian smelter has made him seriously ill. And he’s not going to take it lying down.

  • Mine Clearer

    Mine Clearer

    Valdet Dule is a Kosovar and father of two young children whose job is to find and detonate explosives left over from the wars of the 1990s. Until the land is safe, he says, his people won’t be able to realize their dream of independence.