The Curse of Albinism

This is the National Geographic piece, in the June 2017 issue, that I've worked on for the past two years, and which took me to Tanzania last year to meet children with albinism who lost limbs to men with machetes, working for witch doctors who claim albino body parts make potent charms. They were all lovely kids but cursed in a culture in which too many people still believe lies.


This Wouldn't Be the First Time a Child's Photo Changed History

Susan writes about the worldwide impact of photos of Syrian refugee toddler Aylan Kurdi who drowned with his mother and brother as their family tried to escape their civil war torn country for a Greek island.  She examines how photos of children have affected us, from the Oklahoma City federal building bombing to the Vietnam War's Napalm Girl to the hurricanes in Haiti in 2008.    Click here to read her story.


National Geographic Features Detroit

When the editor of National Geographic wanted someone to capture today’s spirit in Detroit, she called Susan Ager. Susan not only grew up in the metro area, but worked at the Detroit Free Press for 25 years telling the stories of the many people who live and work in Detroit and its suburbs.

Her report appears in the magazine’s May 2015 issue. Click here to read that piece.



Albinism Awareness Day

photo courtesy of stephanie sinclair/national geographic   

photo courtesy of stephanie sinclair/national geographic


The United Nations declared June 13 as the first International Albinism Awareness Day due to the efforts of one man with the genetic disorder who is working to combat abuses against albino people, especially in sub-Saharan African countries. In Tanzania, with the highest rate of albinism in the world, people with the condition – which causes pale skin, white hair and poor eyesight – are attacked and butchered, their body parts sold to witch doctors whose potions promise riches and success. Susan’s brief online piece here may be followed in several months by a broader, longer magazine piece that chronicles the challenges of albinos across the world.


Caring for Elephants

When Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus announced it would soon retire all 13 of its performing elephants, National Geographic asked Susan to visit Ringling’s 20-year-old, 200-acre Center for the Conservation of Elephants in central Florida. There, the new retirees will join another 28 elephants, many of whom will continue to be bred for what Ringling CEO Kenneth Feld hopes will be a place for research on the Asian elephant and, eventually, a place for the public to see the vanishing breed.  Learn more about this home for retired circus animals.