Al Jazeera is revisiting some of the stories we've aired over the past five years, to find out what has happened to the people we met, and how their lives have changed.

What stories from our past have piqued your interest, inspired your curiosity - or touched your heart? Who or where would you like to see us catching up with? Tweet to us @AJEnglish , using the hashtag #AJWhatNext to let us know your ideas...




 Then: Peru, August 2007

 Now: September 2012


On August 15, 2007, an earthquake reduced the Peruvian city of Pisco to rubble. More than 500 people were killed. About 90,000 families were affected or rendered homeless by the disaster.

Al Jazeera's Gabriel Elizondo travelled to the city as rescue team were pulling bodies from the debris.


Five years later, many survivors still live in makeshift homes, losing hope that the government will help them return to a normal life. Some of them blame corruption for the lack of aid.

Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez visits a part of Pisco where poor residents practically live on the street, without electricity and sewage.

 Then: Bangladesh, 2006

 Now: September 2012


Al Jazeera's Tony Birtley first met Durjoy, whose name means "invincible", in Bangladesh in 2006 at the Acid Survivors' Foundation when Durjoy was two years old.

Durjoy's aunt tried to kill him when he was just over one month old by pouring sulphuric acid down his throat. The attack burned away his tongue and lips, and severely damaged his mouth.

Al Jazeera caught up with Durjoy in 2008.


In 2012, a now-six-year-old Durjoy can write, read, and even speak, after receiving surgery for his injuries. 

Monira Rahman of the Acid Survivors' Foundation says 73 per cent of acid attacks are made against women and girls. The intention, she says, is often "if this girl is not mine, she will not be anyone else's".

Al Jazeera's Nicholas Haque reports that the crime carries the death penalty; however, most attacks go unpunished.    

 Then: Iraq, August 2009

 Now: August 2012


In 2009, Al Jazeera's Joanna Blundell reported on the first performance played by Iraq's national youth orchestra in the northern city of Sulamaniyah.  

The orchestra was founded by then-17-year-old Zuhal Sultan, a piano player who had to teach herself after the war in Iraq began in 2003. "I want to show Iraq's unity, because it’s there," said Sultan. "And the best way to show it is through Iraq's younger generation."     


Three years later, the orchestra toured the United Kingdom for a series of concerts. The group continues to face obstacles to playing together, and auditions are conducted over YouTube.  

Paul McAlinden, the orchestra's conductor and musical director, said the players, who include Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens, and Assyrians, become more at ease with one another each year.

Next year, the orchestra will tour France. Al Jazeera's Barnaby Phillips reports that although the orchestra longs to perform in Baghdad, that is not yet possible for security reasons.  

 Then: China, May 2008

 Now: August 2012


Hundreds of children were among the victims of the devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake that struck China's Sichuan province in May 2008.


Many were trapped when their school buildings collapsed around them.


Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan reported on one family's grief, as they buried their only son, and listened to the tragic story of his death.



After the dust settled, it was found that the huge quake occurred close to the surface, and killed nearly 70,000 people.


Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan caught up with the Zhao family, and learned how they are struggling to move on with their lives.


Following the death of their 11-year-old boy in the earthquake, the couple remain childless and overwhelmed with feelings of loneliness.


Read Melissa's blog, "Remembering a son of Sichuan", here. 


 Then: The Philippines, May 2007

 Now: August 2012


In 2007, Marga Ortigas met 80-year-old Pilar Frias. She was a so-called "comfort woman", kept by Japanese soldiers as a sex slave for months during World War II.

She was just 15 years old at the time.

She sang to Al Jazeera about her suffering at the hands of the soldiers, a ballad shared by many women across the Philippines, and described their search for justice in the more-than six decades since the war ended.

In archive footage from 2007, only recently uploaded by Al Jazeera , she told her story of being beaten, stabbed, tied up and raped.


Returning to meet Pilar Frias, now 85, we found her still waiting for an official apology from Japan for the violence inflicted on her and many other women.

But they have not given up their fight, despite worrying that their excision from history may lead to similar violations being repeated against others in the future.

Marga Ortigas caught up with the women and listened to their songs of anguish and hope. Read her blog, "Filipina 'comfort women' continue their fight", here.

Then: Bangladesh, June 2010

Now: August 2012

About 215 million children work as labourers around the world - most under very hazardous conditions and with little pay, according to the United Nation's labour body.

In Bangladesh, where almost half of all children live under the poverty line, many of them have to work in harsh sweatshops to scrape out a living for their families.

Al Jazeera's Nicolas Haque reported from Bangladesh's capital Dhaka in June 2010, on how some are fighting for their rights to better lives.

We went back to Bangladesh and met again with Shubbo, who is now an 11-year-old expert welding car parts in the same dirty, noisy workshop.

He earns $18 a month, which, though meagre, represents a solid contribution to his family's income.

Al Jazeera's Nicolas Haque  spoke again to Shubbo, and to his boss.
Read his blog, "Bangladesh child labour remains social norm", here.

Then: Mexico, July 2010

Now: August 2012


Besides seabirds and wetlands' wildlife, the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico is also threatening the world's most endangered sea turtles.

The Kemp's Ridley Turtle had been making a comeback, with the help of conservationists - but its migratory path takes it right through the polluted Gulf.

Al Jazeera's Franc Contreras reported on rescue efforts from Mexico's northeastern Gulf Coast, in July 2010.


After being dealt such a massive blow by the BP oil spill in 2010, Al Jazeera returned to the Tamaulipas reserve to see how the turtles are doing.

Al Jazeera's Rachel Levin found that the Kemp Ridley Turtles, a 3 million-year-old species, have been making a comeback - and met the conservationists who have helped save the turtles, and the children releasing the turtles into the sea.


Then: Argentina, August 2007

Now: August 2012

In 2007, we visited Argentina's Chaco state and found that members of the Toba tribe were dying from malnourishment and associated diseases. 

In a country then in the middle of an economic boom, human rights groups blamed the government for neglecting Argentina's original inhabitants.

Al Jazeera's Teresa Bo reported from the nation's poorest province.



Today, life has improved for many among the Toba. There is a new hospital, and many people have benefited from In a country in the midst of an economic boom, human rights groups were blaming the government's social plans.

But community leaders say they want more help for their youth.

Teresa Bo returned to Chaco and caught up with members of the tribe. Read her blog, "Argentina's marginalised community", here.



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