Greg Carr’s Big Gamble

In a watershed experiment, the Boston entrepreneur is putting $40 million of his own money into a splendid but ravaged park in Mozambique

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"We need to trust each other," Carr responds. "But I realize that we need to build trust."

While the translator struggles to find the right word for "trust," a local administrator pitches in.

"A man, if he wants to be married, he has to find a woman," he tells the crowd. "First he has to start talking with her—they're not going to go to bed together the first night."

The crowd murmurs but seems unconvinced. Then Samuel Antonio, a former soldier, stands up, bows to the officials and turns to the crowd.

"You say you don't want this mzungu?" Antonio says in Sena, the local language. "Don't you want to be employed? Don't you want a job?" He makes a joke about local leaders taking public money for themselves, and some of the villagers giggle. But when he returns to the subject of jobs, they cheer.

The regulo, who has been sitting silently, now stands up and tells Carr that he will conduct a ceremony for the park.

The meeting is over, and Carr, Manuel and representatives from both sides stand up and walk to a roofless round thatch hut. Carr and a staff member enter with some village leaders and take seats on the dirt. They all start clapping with cupped hands, summoning ancestors. A spiritual leader mixes a potion and pours some on the ground.

When the ceremony ends, Carr and his team walk back to the red helicopter and climb inside. The chopper lifts off, and Carr looks down at the villagers below. They wave, until the dust and wind force them to turn away.

Journalist Stephanie Hanes and photographer Jeffrey Barbee are based in South Africa. This story was produced in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting as part of its project about the environment and human conflict in Africa.


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