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November 23, 2009

Meeting Abdi

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Somalia usually makes the news for stories about piracy. But people who live there face increasingly dismal and dangerous conditions that get less coverage in the media. Somalia has been without a functioning government for 18 years.

The journalist Paul Salopek has been to the capital Mogadishu a number of times since 2002, most recently about a year ago. He tells Dick Gordon about the changes he's seen. He also introduces us to a young Somali who we hope will become a regular presence on The Story. Abdi is a schoolteacher who loves Hollywood cinema and used to be known to his friends as The American. Not so any longer - recently, Abdi received a threatening call telling him to drop that "wicked" nickname. That's just one example of the violent hold Islamist groups now have on the residents of Mogadishu. Abdi's first essay airs today. Note: we are not using Abdi's last name or a full view of his face, for his safety.

  • Read an article Paul wrote about his friendship with Abdi
  • See slide shows and articles from Paul's reporting in Somalia here



Twenty years ago, Vince Hannemann artistically lined up some hubcaps and a grocery cart filled with shoes on top against his backyard fence. Today, the three-story "Cathedral of Junk" - made of 6 tons of rusty metal, cast off electronics, gadgets, toys, furniture and anything else you can think of - attracts thousands of visitors each year. The "cathedral" plays host to weddings, birthday parties, theater groups and international tourists. Vince says that as he has shaped the cathedral, so has it shaped him, drawing him out of his shell to interact with people and bear witness to their wonder.


Midabada Casan performed by Ahmed Mooge

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