epa Feature Archive 2013
Teresa Libbey teaches children the art of manners and etiquette. As a local chapter director for the National League of Junior Cotillions, her three-year program works to teach fifth grade through eighth grade children. Children of all social backgrounds are encouraged to learn social courtesies needed for better relationships with both family and friends. The students learn and practice life skills and ballroom dancing not offered elsewhere. Libbey works to teach 'gentlemen and ladies' self-confidence and character, and helps set boundaries of behavior. In addition, the group offers proper manners and guidelines for email, cell phones and other electronic communication.
Barefoot, dressed in white robes, James Joseph, a Catholic pilgrim originally from Detroit, Michigan, USA, has been living without money and depending on the generosity of others for the past 20 years. He calls himself Jacob but is better known by many as ‘the Jesus guy’, mainly because of his appearance resembling Jesus Christ. He has visited about 20 countries in the world, spreading his message, and over recent years he has been visiting Israel, becoming a well-known figure in the old city of Jerusalem, where he explores the life and path of Jesus Christ.
In 2003, the civil war in Liberia culminated in a final battle for Monrovia after 14 years of civil war. The city was surrounded by warring factions and for weeks the citizens bore witness to one of the bloodiest battles in West Africa's history. Finally, the then president Charles Taylor, who has since been found guilty of war crimes, stepped down under immense international pressure. Since then, Liberia has enjoyed 10 years of liberation and peace, with Ellen-Johnson Sirleaf becoming the nation’s first democratically-elected female president in 2005. She was faced with a massive task of restoring Liberia from a crippled nation into a functioning country.
Since the start of the conflict in Syria back in 2011 hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the country seeking refuge from violence they face both from government forces and from various rebel factions. Protests muted to a long and ongoing conflict culminating in 2013 by the use of chemical weapons and tens of thousands of deaths. Most civilians living in the conflict areas had to flee with their families to neighboring Jordan, Libya, and Turkey while many others reached Egypt or Algeria, where visa was not required for them. In Egypt most of the about 300,000 Syrian refugees do not have to live in refugee camps; they stay in rented accommodations in Cairo and Alexandria.
The Portuguese capital celebrates the 500 years of the district of Bairro Alto. Built in the 16th century, it became one of the most emblematic and cosmopolitan quarters of Lisbon. It has traditionally been a cultural center where writers, poets, artists, students and journalists often gathered. In the eighties, it started becoming a renowned quarter for a vibrant nightlife. While the neighborhood is quiet during the day, a multitude of small bars, Fado houses, and restaurants attract many tourists at night. Bairro Alto has recently welcomed many young people rejuvenating the neighborhood and leading to the restoration of many old buildings in bad conditions.
With his first photograph Joshua gained notoriety. Only 11 years old, Joshua Cator has seen and experienced more than most people do in their lifetimes. The boy is among those who survived super-typhoon Haiyan after it crossed the Philippines leaving thousands dead in its wake. A portrait of Joshua taken two days after the disaster was used by local and international non-government organizations to solicit help for typhoon victims. His picture looked like a cry for help and here is Joshua’s story. The tragedy, however, has not changed Joshua’s plans for the future.
US President John F. Kennedy was fatally shot while traveling in a presidential motorcade in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, USA, on 22 November 1963. Lee Harvey Oswald was accused of the shooting and was later killed himself on 24 November 1963 by a gunshot by Jack Ruby.
2013 marks the 50th anniversary of US President John F. Kennedy's assassination.
On 08 November 2013 typhoon Haiyan, known as Yolanda to the Filipinos, slammed into the Eastern Philippines with record winds of more than 300 kilometers per hour destroying more than a million houses. The children that survived have harrowing tales and an imprint in their memories that will last through their lifetime. Law and order reinforcements arrived and restored control and residents could begin salvaging their lives. For the children this meant looking for their relatives, water, food, lost possessions, helping their parents and finding shelters to stay in. The resilience of the Filipinos throughout this disaster is incredible and reflected in the spirit of these children, who continue to play and smile and laugh.
Delicious and beautiful, Thai food is appreciated world-wide for its striking tastes and surprising combinations of sweet and salty, spicy and sour. But lesser known is that flowers also bloom in Thai cuisine, flowers appear as essential ingredients in popular dishes, as snacks sold at street stalls in the form of battered flower fries, to specialty dishes at local restaurants, such as steamed lotus leaf parcels, as well as in full banquets in five-star hotels that promote extensive floral banquets. Thailand's creative chefs want to further combine the visual beauty of flowers with fragrant new and old tasting dishes, highlighting floral ingredients in the food.
Alexandra township in Johannesburg is one of the main townships on the edges of the capital and was built in the early 1900's to house nonwhite residents. Townships like Alex, Diepsloot and Soweto were built outside the main white areas as a cornerstone of the country’s controversial Apartheid policy. They were often the venues for uprisings against the government as black South Africans fought for equal opportunities. In 1943 Alex became famous when Nelson Mandela rented a room in the house of the Xhoma family before moving to Soweto. The dwellers enjoy an open society; children playing games, adults enjoying dice and card games and a wide array of small businesses.
In its second year the 2013 Kalahari Desert Speedweek brought together an eclectic mix of speed crazed petrol-heads from various corners of South Africa. The course runs along 7 kilometres of specially prepared clay track for high speed top end runs. Technically it is a much more challenging event than Tar Speedweek and requires much more driving and engineering skills for top honours in each class. The Speedweek is not just for exotic sports cars. It is aimed at the man in the street. Be it in an old Ford truck or a Lamborghini drivers get to test their nerve and steel in pushing themselves and their vehicles to top speeds across the desert.
Every lane of Fulia in West Bengal vibrates with the sweet sound of running looms. The town keeps its unique identity with a backbone of handloom businesses and 80 per cent of its residents involved in the textile trade. West Bengal is famous for its handloom products with over 125,000 handlooms churning out Shantipuri, Tangail, and Jamdani handloom sarees in a variety of fabrics like cotton, tussar and silk. Weaving is an old crafting in this Indian region and started in Bengal in 1409. However the craft of making sarees is declining in the recent years as most of the weavers are forced to give up due to financial reasons.
Wild orangutans have little room left to maneuver. Their forest homes are shrinking at an alarming rate and their future is on the line. Orangutans are large red haired arboreal great apes living up to the age of 50 years. They are only found in natural rainforest habitats on the islands of Borneo, where they are classed as endangered, and on Sumatra, in Indonesia, where they are critically endangered. Once they were found across south-east Asia, today their habitat has shrunk, and as the demand for more land and more wood progresses, their places of abode are getting smaller and smaller each year.
In 1973, the movie 'The Exorcist' became a sensation in the United States; when adjusted for inflation it is the ninth highest grossing film in American history. Yet few realize that the movie, and Peter Blatty's novel of the same name, are based on a true story: a months-long exorcism by Jesuit priests of a 14-year-old Maryland boy, who priests assigned the pseudonym Roland Doe, in 1949.
The youth military summer camp first opened in 2008. Today the camp caters to over 2,000 kids a year over a two month period. The camp is ran mainly by former military, police, and fire fighters, looking after kids ranging from 6 to 17 years of age. The camp's average child is what it is known as the 'little emperor': an overprotected kid, product of the one child policy. Most parents enroll their children for the one to four week program. Depending on the program they learn how to do their laundry, sit still at attention, go on treks, or learn self-defense.
Qiwen Feng made her debut as a model in 2008 in her native city of Chongqing, China. Her career brought her to Shanghai and then to New York City. The Spring/Summer 2014 fashion week is Qiwen’s second season in the French capital. The daily schedule during Paris Fashion Week is hectic, made up of fittings, castings, fashion shows and photo sessions. Her aspirations are high but as she presents the creations for Dries Van Noten, Felipe Oliveira Baptista and John Galliano in Paris she seems very much on the path towards becoming a super model.
The tenth Autism-Europe International Congress is held in Budapest, Hungary, from 26 to 28 September 2013. The congress is held every three years. This year the organizing association Autism-Europe celebrates the 30th anniversary of its founding. This feature package offers an insight of the lives of people suffering from autism, a pervasive developmental disorder of the brain functions preventing a person from organising and understanding information. The symptoms are deficits in social reciprocal interaction, in verbal and non-verbal communication and imagination and in limited range of activities and interests.
In June 2010 a batch of villagers from Cangfang in Xichuan county of Henan province loaded their belongings and lined up to board a long line of buses. Amid tearful embraces, the villagers bid their remaining relatives and friends farewell and began their journey to cross the Danjiangkou reservoir and more than 500 kilometers of mountainous roads and dusty highways to start their new lives in resettlement villages in Hui county. The relocation of more than 330,000 people was part of the South-North Water Transfer project. It was conceived in 1952 by former Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong to solve the country's chronic water shortages.
The living conditions of the Roma community in the shantytown called Craica remains unchanged except that things are a bit easier in summer. Baia Mare has a population of about 150,000 people and lies near the Romanian borders with Hungary and Ukraine. But they are considered as illegal squatters and plans to relocate them for the better are in abeyance. The slum area has no clean water and only a limited electricity supply. Selling scrap iron salvaged from abandoned mines in the area is their main source of income. Since 2011, local authorities have been demolishing shanties and rehousing Roma families.
In the middle of Maryland's Chesapeake Bay a tiny island may soon become an early victim of climate change. Smith Island is the last inhabited island in Maryland, a place where residents still speak in the Cornish dialect of their ancestors. Many Smith Islanders can trace their ancestry back 12 generations to the English colonists who settled here in the 17th century. And yet their link to this land may soon be broken: Smith Island is eroding. Though scientists differ on how long it will be before the island is underwater there is no dispute about the cause: rising seas. According to a state-commissioned task force, Maryland is now losing 260 acres of tidal shoreline annually.
Insects have been on the menu in Thailand for ages and recently they have migrated from the forests to commercial farms and factories. Over the past 15 years, Thailand, a leader in the region in terms of farming insects and processing them, makes in average 7,500 tons a year of insects – mainly crickets, palm weevils and bamboo caterpillars. Insects are becoming a popular snack at tourist spots, such as Khao Sarn Road, and are generally sold on carts on the street along with other delicacies such as water bugs and silk larvae.
In 2005 Nakisozi Mastulah's husband died of AIDS. The same year she was also diagnosed with HIV. Her local community prevented her children playing with other youngsters in the fear that they would be infected. She started a group with other HIV positive residents to enlighten the community about their disease. Mastulah's group has now 457 registered members. This initiative makes mosquito-repellent candles, note-books and bakes cakes that they sell afterwards in order to pay back their loans and to cover the costs of HIV-related expenses.
The Hungarian Derby is a popular gallop race with nearly ten thousand people attending the races at Kincsem Park, others prefering to follow the event from home or a betting office. Bets worth 5,500 euros (7.5 million forints) were placed on horses participating in the derby, with a total of over 85,600 euros (24 million forints) on horses participating in all of the ten races of that day. The first Hungarian Derby took place in 1921. Today the center serves as 350 stables, a 2,800m gallop course and a steeplechase-cross country course, and is a training ground for many Hungarian racing thoroughbreds.
The festival ‘Best City On Earth’ has been launched in the Russian capital with the grand opening of the first of 150 graffiti objects starting to renew the city’s look. The project opened on 18 May 2013 when Russian artist Alexey Mednoy unveiled his giant graffiti piece ‘Circus’ on the side of a house in central Moscow. The street-art and graffiti project is organized by the Moscow government, with support of the real estate and homebuilding company PIK. Until September, new works by street artists will appear regularly on the walls of residential houses and office buildings, power substations, bridges, and subways.
Kenya is still struggling with a low electrification rate. Almost 90 per cent of the country’s households use firewood for cooking. Nearly all of the rural households collect firewood themselves, which keeps residents busy for five to 20 hours per week. The ‘Carbon Offset Project’ was launched by Swiss nonprofit climate protection organization myclimate in 2010 and partners with Tembea Youth Centre for Sustainable Development, a community based development organization, to implement the Community Savings and Loaning methodology in Siaya County.
Iga and Nabari are homes of Ninja, most prominent in the 15th until 17th centuries but antecedents may have existed even in the 12th century. A Ninja figure was originally an agent or mercenary specializing in unorthodox warfare – sabotage and assassination topping the list of expertise. A number of local residents of Iga trace their family roots to the Ninja dating back some 15 generations. Secret Ninja texts are preserved in local archives and local residents are experts in the Ninja arts. And Iga celebrates the Ueno Ninja Festival every year to keep the culture of Ninjutsu alive.
Bunraku puppet theatre is one of Japan’s foremost stage arts, along with Kabuki and Noh. It was listed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity due to its unique blend of puppet drama, instrumental music accompaniment and song narrative. Bunraku first appeared in the early Edo period (ca. 1600) and has become a popular form of narrative drama depicting historical plays set in feudal times, and contemporary dramas that deal with conflicts between personal passions and social obligations. A growing number of professional performers are voicing deep concern about the future survival of their grand arts tradition.
Todd Liebross opened Tank Town USA in April 2013 in Morganton after three years of planning and a life-long hobby of collecting surplus military vehicles. On five acres of land, thrill seekers can now drive a British armored personnel carrier across the Georgia red clay, including the opportunity to crush a junked car. For 499 USD a customer can crush a car with the 15-ton treaded vehicles and drive around for 20 minutes. Customers can also choose to operate an excavator or bulldozer or operate an APC for 50 US dollars for 10 minutes of fun.
Every summer, each of Iowa’s 99 counties throws its own fair. Provincial and patriotic, with beauty pageants and demolition derbies, polka dances and daredevil shows, these rural exhibitions reflect the traditional values, and the countrified culture, of America's Heartland. Though sparsely attended compared to the better-known Iowa State Fair, these small-town gatherings are a source of pride for many Iowans. The fairs run from June through early September.
Fishing and consumption of sea vegetables are integral to South Korea's way of life and culinary culture. The collection, serving and sale of these sea products drive the economy in many small coastal fishing villages along parts of South Korea's 10,000 km and more of coastline. Before the rapid expansion as a leading industrial giant in car manufacturing and the energy industry, fishing and agriculture formed the backbone of its economy. A visit to any one of the many fish markets reveals the fascinating array of sea products consumed and emphasizes the strong domestic demand for fresh sea products.
Swimming gracefully like mermaids: Normeth Preglo of the Philippines had the idea when she was looking for a mermaid costume and slipped on a fishtail. With its curious combination of fun, functionality and whimsicality, many people wanted to experiment mermaid swimming. The swimming lessons were brought to Manila in April 2013 for people eager to try what the pioneers describe as an ethereal 'dream-like' experience. The academy is more focused on swimming classes but to complete the experience, mermaid party packages for children (minimum age being 6) and adults are also offered.
Surrounded by cloth, paper, brushes and ink Xi Fu whose name meant 'Seeking Happiness' is a common sight in the underground passes of Xidan or tourist walkways of Houhai in Beijing. With spry dexterity, he uses his feet to mix the paint, lay out his brushes and spread the rice paper he is going to write on. Clasping the brush between his toes, Xi Fu proceeds to mesmerize a rapidly gathering crowd for the next hour with a skillful display of calligraphic art using only his feet. Since there are no platforms for disabled artists like him Xi Fu took to the streets and roaming pedestrian underpasses to perform.
Caves hold a mystical and religious significance to Thai people. As the first unofficial temples, Buddhist 'cave' monks lived in the natural shelters, before establishing their own temples just outside. In ancient times, caves were also the abode of holy men and ascetics who sat in the dark in deep meditation. There are thousands of caves spread across Thailand and many are still being discovered. These caves are places of wonder and worship but they are fragile environments, easily destroyed and in need of ongoing conservation and protection.
Seventy year old Nepalese rice farmer Ram Maya Rai toils daily in the paddi fields of the Likhu River, in Nepal’s Nuwakot district, but despite her years she goes about her chores with a new lease of life now that the vision in her left eye has been fully restored. Before 1990, it was never possible in Nepal to remove a cataract - a clouding of the eye lens and the most common cause of blindness. Recently, Ram Maya and more than 300 elderly men and women from all over the country gathered at the monastery premises for free health treatment in their eyes.
More than 20,000 revelers gathered to celebrate the Summer Solstice on 21 June within the circle of standing stones at Stonehenge, England. Pagans, druids and tourists crossed the country to watch the sunrise at the start of the longest day of the year. Stonehenge became a World Heritage Site in 1986. The neighbouring road A344 close to the site is about to close as part of a 27 million pounds transformation that will re-connect the monument with its landscape and enable visitors to better appreciate the views and access of the site.
The cement plant on the north-eastern edge of the Gaza Strip is no place for the weak-hearted. Its back breaking work for any man, let alone a woman, carrying bags of cement weighing 20 kilograms to and fro. But that is the life of 35 year old unmarried Jamela. She started her career at the factory in Beit Hanoun when she was fifteen. Her arrival first raised eyebrows amongst the all-men staff but her ability to work earned her respect and their acceptance. For her labors she is paid just 10 shekels (around 2 euros) for each one ton of cement she transfers.
The Nedbank South African Disabled Golf Open is one of the top disabled golf tournaments in the world with more than 60 competitors from various nations. People suffering from any number of physical disabilities including arm and leg amputees, hemiplegics, paraplegics, stroke victims, blind and deaf people that are able to grip the club with at least one hand and hit the ball can compete.
Southeast Asia's largest textile company, PT Sri Rejeki Isman (Sritex) was founded in 1966 by local entrepreneur Muhammad Lukminto in Solo, Central Java province, Indonesia. It was started as a small garment store at a traditional 'Klewer' market. The integrated company that has three weaving plants, nine spinning plants, three printing plants and seven garment plants is now employing 16,000 people. Sritex supplies military apparels to 29 countries and has been appointed as the official partner for NATO countries to produce military uniforms.
Shizuoka tea production is booming once again after suffering severe setbacks following the nuclear accident in 2011. The discovery of cesium levels exceeding government-set limits in samplings of Shizuoka tea leaves resulted in shipments of the teas being recalled and destroyed. This severely dented the reputation of teas in the region. With the safety of Shizuoka teas now confirmed international sales are back to normal. Local producers are now expecting their best harvest in five years. The timing is excellent as tea enthusiasts from around the world gather in Shizuoka for World Tea Festival that takes place in Spring and in Fall.
Israeli-based international humanitarian project 'Save's a Child's Heart' provides cardiac surgery and care for children and builds political bridges for peace in the process. An age-old Jewish tradition of Tikkun Olam is literally at the heart of this project. Many of the heart operations are simple procedures but many of these children die due to a lack of trained local medical staff. This ‘surgery without borders’ approach means that every child deserved the best medical treatment available regardless of nationality, religion, color, gender or financial situation.
In the restive region of Kashgar where the North and South Silk road meets, Uighurs comprise of more than 90 per cent of the 3.9 million population. Most practice a moderate form of Islam. Tensions have been high between the Uighurs and the dominant Han Chinese as Uighurs complain of cultural and religious repression and claim that the migrants enjoy the main benefits of development in the oil-rich but economically backward region. State media have reported several ethnic clashes and terrorist attacks in recent years accusing some Uighurs of having links to terrorist groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Hansen's disease, also known as leprosy, is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae, which damages the skin and the peripheral nervous system. Hansen's disease became curable in 1941. When diagnosed and treated early, the disease is not disabling and leaves no marks at all. In China, most patients were quarantined in mountain villages or islands with little access at all. The majority died in these villages without ever seeing their relatives again, even after they were cured. According to HANDA hundreds of such villages still exist isolating the last surviving affected people, cured years ago.
Bhawana Thami was born with half of her face covered with hair due to a disease that if not treated could turn into cancer. The family suffered from the local villagers' belief that a child with such an appearance is a witch. Bhawana’s father did not allow her to look into mirror, but one day a journalist who took her photo showed it to her causing the child disgust, fear and shock. In 2012 Bhawana went through plastic surgery. A year later she had a second operation where the hair from her face was completely removed.
Japan's National Archives is a world leader in restoration techniques and its conservators are restoring some of the 990,000 documents in the archives - the oldest dates back to 908 A.D. Experts use a variety of traditional and state of the art methods to restore the rare and irreplaceable documents close to their original condition. The National Archives collaborates with one of Japan's traditional paper makers, which innovated the world's thinnest paper at .002 mm, to advance a technique to patch thin Japanese ‘washi’ paper with damaged documents.
The portraits of these veterans show the pride of soldiers and the passage of time through the 68 years since the Allied victory over Nazi-Germany. All these soldiers emigrated to Israel over the decades following the creation of the state. A great number of Jewish joined various armies to fight the Nazis. These included some 500,000 soldiers and sailors from the Soviet Union who fought in the Red Army, as well as some 550,000 Jewish troops fighting in the American armed forces. On 08 of May 1945 the deadliest war in history finished with the surrender of the Nazis, leaving over 60,000,000 people dead.
Indian cinema's first silent feature film by home-grown film maker Dadasaheb Phalke was released on 03 May 1913. Known as the 'father of Indian cinema' his movie tells the story of a righteous king, adapted from Hindu mythology. An unusual feature of the film is that all female characters were performed by male actors. In the 100 years since its release, the Indian film industry has become one of the biggest in the world. Although the Bollywood factor has given India a huge new profile, the period of the 1950s to the 1960s is considered as the Golden Age of Cinema, with some of the most acclaimed films being made during this time.
Just as ancient temples remind humanity of the once great Greek Empire, empty billboards represent Greece’s current situation. They can be now easily found in Greece’s capital, Athens. They are ragged and empty, or else carrying posters so old that the sun has bleached them illegible. As, for the moment, it is not certainly known if there are no plans to be removed, they remain, in a way, as monuments of the past, and the message they convey is the absence of message. As turnover in retail trade has dropped by 54.6 per cent since 2009 the advertising companies that own the billboards have suffered greatly from the economic crisis.
Thai Boxing or Muay Thai is a national sport. It is a form of martial arts that has its roots in ancient Thai battles, also known as 'the art of eight weapons' with the combined use of fists, knees, elbows and legs and is popular as a professional and recreational sport in Thailand - not only among adults. Children also train and fight the ancient Thai sport. The rule of standard boxing stadiums is that the child boxer needs to weigh 100 pounds (45 kg), the normal weight of a Thai 14 to 15 year old. However, younger children, some aged only 8-years-old, do take part in fights outside of professional stadiums and at local festivals.
Outside Kunming, China, lies a butterfly ecological garden nestled on an artificial hill created by a Chinese entrepreneur. The main attraction on the hill though is a group of performers taking part in a production called 'Dwarf Empire'. Chinese entrepreneur Chen Mingjing opened the theme park in 2009, employing a number of dwarves to create the show. Despite criticism from diverse groups calling the whole idea 'barbaric' and an 'exploitation of less fortunate people,' he as well as the employees see it as a positive initiative which allows them to earn a living.
In recent years Mexican cities along the US-Mexico border have seen a dramatic rise in the number of homeless people, a majority being deportees from the United States. Heightened border security and record numbers of deportations from the US have contributed significantly to the growing population of homeless. Many had lived undocumented for decades in the US maintaining jobs and raising families. In the past few years the Tijuana River canal has become a popular spot for these people to live in makeshift encampments and foxhole hideaways dug into the sediment.
A positive fall-out from the triple catastrophes of March 2011 is the Daihanya Buddhist Spring Festival held at the Fukujuji temple in Miharu, Japan. The festival supports the mental welfare of victims of the wave of devastation. Temple members invite these victims to the festival to help them overcome the trauma they have experienced – and in many cases continue to. One of the leading lights behind the ‘project’ is Fukushima resident Genyu Sokyu, a Buddhist monk and major literary award winning novelist has vowed to remain in Fukushima.
Life for lepers in the hospitalized colony in Srinagar, India, is not easy and not only because of their health condition. Their living conditions at the hospital deteriorate yearly with insufficient food, crumbling accommodation and lack of clothing. A monthly government grant of 400 INR (about 5.68 EUR) means they run out of basic food items long before the month is out and cost of medical care is beyond their reach. The huts built by the British over a century ago are in dilapidated condition although the hospital is maintained by the Kashmir state government.
Established in 2012, South African Mzanzi Ballet (SAMB) is one of just two full-time professional ballet companies in South Africa. In addition to the professional company an extensive outreach program offers free ballet lessons to over 300 dancers from townships in and around Johannesburg. Young dancers from the age of 5 to 16 learn movement, body, spatial and language skills through their regular ballet training. Dancers receive free transport and regularly participate in the professional company's major productions and fundraising performances.
The underpasses of Moscow, Russia, are full of diversity, both in terms of the people who pass through them and the services on offer. Temporary market stalls, shops, buskers, impromptu concerts and art galleries are a staple sight here. For some, the underpass is a way of crossing the street. For others, it is a place of work, somewhere to eat and drink, or even somewhere to sleep. They are also an underground territory for those in search of fake work permits, medical documents, insurance, and certificates of education, to name but a few.
Poi Sang Long is a Buddhist novice ordination ceremony - custom and tradition of the ethnic Tai Yai tribe who migrated from Myanmar. The ceremonies begin with the boys having their eyebrows and heads shaved by monks and parents before being bathed and anointed with sacred water. The three-day ceremonies start early morning at the temple where the young boys are made up and outfitted with magnificent costumes. Then, the boys are carried in procession around the town to pay respect, beg pardon and receive blessings from their friends and relatives.
The annual Imperial Ball is an occasion to travel back in time to the French Second Empire. Guests from all around the world dress up in sumptuous ball gowns, costumes and evening wear for the benefit event, organized by French charity ‘Work of the Holy Angels’. Some participants prepare in a private room of the hotel as some crinoline dresses require the assistance of many people to be put on. Around 7.30 pm, everyone gathers in the Salon Ravel for a cocktail reception. Following the candlelight dinner, the guests dance the quadrille, waltz and other traditional dances in the Opera Ballroom, adorned by mimosa bunches.
Once a year the Hindu festival of Holi celebrates the beginning of spring as thousands of people enjoy the ritual of covering themselves in colored powder as a mark of their spirituality. Holi falls on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna, which was on 27 March this year. In South Africa a commercial adaptation called the Holi One Colour Festival was witnessed by thousands of party goers dancing to professional DJ's and every hour the festival would count down to a massive explosion of colored paint.
Lemosho hike is among the prettiest routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro as it grants scenic views along the way with a low volume of tourist traffic. Thousands of tourists travel to Tanzania every year to trek the 5,895 meter high mount. Climbing Kilimajaro is tough; however the treks include a reasonable number of days for acclimatization, giving a large number of visitors a better chance to succeed in reaching the summit. Although it is not a technically difficult climb the altitude can take its toll on climbers.
Over six thousand competitors descended on Boston for the 43rd World Irish Dancing Championships. Representatives from around the globe have come to compete with the Irish, English, Scottish and US dancers. Traditional Irish dancing, once outlawed in the 17th century, saw a rise in popularity following the stage productions of ‘Riverdance’ and ‘Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance.’ The dancers’ precise, fast-paced timing and rhythm come alive to traditional music played on fiddle, flute, tin whistle, accordion, bodhran and piano.
Norihiro Ishida's paint shop, called Hokodo, is the oldest in Japan, started in the mid-1800s, and is patronized by the country's top painters who spend upwards of tens of thousands of dollars for hand crafted mineral pigments. 'Since the first known cave paintings in southern France, mankind has been making colorful pigments from natural mineral sources,' he says. 'While synthetic paints have become popular since the 19th century, our shop holds to the tradition of making paints exclusively from natural mineral and organic sources.'
Bucharest’s Jilava penitentiary may be one of the city’s oldest, as well as most infamous, prisons, but it boasts one of the most progressive programs of rehabilitation for its inmates thanks to a grant through the EEA Financial Mechanism. Through this financial help the penitentiary has developed an in-house therapeutic community made up of staff members to help inmates overcome their problems with narcotics. The project enables up to 26 inmates to receive essential therapy for a period of six months.
In the northern port city of Thessaloniki the Industrial Mining S.A. was considered as one of the major producers and distributors of building materials. But it was unable to survive the impact of the financial crisis which has left Greece with an unemployment rate over 25 percent. It closed in fall 2011 making around 150 workers redundant. The 38 remaining members of the workers’ union decided to occupy the plant, reopen it and run it themselves, following the abandonment of the industry by its former management and the bankruptcy of the mother company Philkeram Johnson. Running as a collective, their motto is: 'If they can't, we can'.
Virgil Lovell told his son Carlos at an early age, "If you make good liquor and put it barrels, it would be the same as money in the bank." That was almost 70 years ago when his father taught him and his brother Fred how to make sour mash corn whiskey. Now, after being out of the illegal moonshine business since 1960, they are back to their old craft of making Georgia moonshine from corn, rye, wheat, corn and barley malt, and their own spring water; but now under the auspices of a state distillery license at the Ivy Mountain Distillery in Mt. Airy, Georgia.
As the sun sets Ouagadougou comes alive with a hive of activity as it plays host to Africa's most prominent film festival FESPACO - the largest film festival in Africa. Nearly 170 films from all over the continent are shown during the bi-annual festival running from 23 February until 02 March 2013. 101 films vy for the top Etalon d'Or prize with all of the juries for the different categories presided this year by women. This year's theme focused on African cinema and politics. The film culture in this unlikely place runs deep with the theatres screening films year round.
Following the 11 March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, tens of thousands of people lost their homes and are still living in temporary homes. Like over 100,000 people that are now 'nuclear refugees', the 21,000 residents of Namie in the Fukushima prefecture had to abandon their homes after the town was evacuated following the nuclear alert. Located within the 20-kilometer exclusion zone, Namie saw its coastal area in Ukedo wiped out by the tsunami and its inland zone contaminated by radiations.
Stadiou Street is a major street that links Athens' largest squares, Omonia and Syntagma, facing Greece's Parliament building. The street follows ancient routes of Classical Athens and was one of the first streets to be built in modern Athens. Nowdays the site reflects the turbulent economic times that Greece is going through, often becoming witness of rallies and riots. Its present bears nothing of its past glory as a popular shopping destination. A third of the stores have closed down near Omonia Square.
Widows in India are considered highly inauspicious according to Hindu tradition and are often ostracized by society. They may not remarry and must renounce all earthly pleasures. This means wearing only simple white saris and fasting several times a month. As many widows in India are abandoned by their families and cast out by society many make their way to the holy towns of Vrindavan or Banara. Here they live a cast-away life, waiting for salvation, living in shelters or ashrams, begging for a livelihood by singing holy hymns or bhajans.
Pope Benedict XVI announced on 11 February 2013 that he will officially step down on 28 February, citing advanced age and declining health. On the last day of his pontificate, the Pope is due to take a helicopter to Castel Gandolfo. He will stay at his summer residence, until the convent of Mater Ecclesiae at the Vatican, where he is expected to finally settle, is restored. His retirement at Castel Gandolfo will prevent him from influencing the election of his successor, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.
Baia Mare has a population of about 150,000 people and lies near the Romanian borders with Hungary and Ukraine. According to the census of 2011, the ethnic makeup of the city is around 84 percent Romanian, 12 percent Hungarian and 3 percent Roma. An estimated 10-12 million Roma live throughout Europe, making them one of the EU’s biggest ethnic minorities. Originally around 1,500 Roma people lived in a shantytown called Craica on the outskirts of the city. Selling scrap iron salvaged from abandoned mines in the area is their main source of income.
Flying in from New York before travelling to Milan, the fashion industry makes a stop in London to present its Fall/Winter 2013 collections. Over five days models, designers, buyers, bloggers, photographers, makeup artists, hair dressers, celebrities and hipsters congregate at Somerset House for a celebration of cutting edge style. Style is not only reserved to the catwalk. Guests also compete in creativity, often going to extreme lengths to be the coolest cat in town. And London certainly has its fair share of cool cats.
'Longzaitian' or 'Dragon in the Sky' Shadow Puppet Troupe consists of close to 50 members who look like children but are actually dwarfs with an average age of 22. Formed in 2008, the troupe started out with less than ten members but gradually grew in fame and stature, drawing many other dwarfs from all parts of China who seek to be accepted in a community of their own. The troupe provides training, food, accommodation and income for the members as well as a sense of belonging and pride in their work preserving the ancient art of shadow puppetry.
While many young people with small children have left the Fukushima prefecture in Japan following the 11 March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident for health precautions there is a growing number of young people returning to the area and moving to Fukushima for the first time to pursue their creative careers. Due to the area's proximity to Tokyo by super express train and the abundant nature and hot springs, the area has been an attractive location for living. Following 3.11, the area is attracting young people devoted to create a new vision for Japan.
These children are residents living along the same street in the small community of the northern Malian town of Diabaly who lived through a rapid chain of events in the Malian war. On 14 January 2013, the Jihadists vandalised the town's church desecrating all the religious symbols, raided shops and took down the Malian flag. For eight days the children lived in fear with these Jihadists amongst them. Then the French attacked with precision airstrikes. While some children were injured, the majority remained unharmed physically.
From 23-28 January 2013 wheelchair tennis took place in the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne Park, Australia. The top seven ranked players from various countries plus a wildcard entry participated in the events. In the 1970s Brad Parks, an acrobatic skier who suffered an injury leaving him paraplegic, and wheelchair athlete Jeff Minnenbraker started promoting wheelchair tennis. In 1977 the Los Angeles City Parks and Recreation Department hosted the first ever wheelchair tennis tournament with around 20 players.
While the heavy smog in Beijing and much of northern China over the past few days have caused alarm among residents and renewed scrutiny on the pollution woes of the country, villagers in a small town of Hubei Province have been grappling with severe air, water and noise pollution over the past two years. Many villagers complained of intensifying respiratory, heart, skin and circulatory illnesses caused by the pollution and a large spike in cancer diagnoses and deaths since the factories were built.
Thousands of Nepalese youths from across the country take part in an eight month-long private training programme in the Kaski district, preparing them for the demands of the British Gurkha soldier recruitment selection in Nepal. Around 125 youths will be selected from more than three thousands participants. Those selected will join the British Army, a selection which carries much prestige and admiration throughout Nepalese society. Since 1947, the British government has been appointing Nepalese youths to British Army.
The camp located east of Paris, France, hosts four families each with four or five children. Most of the families who live in the camp were forced move there after they had been evacuated from a camp in Noisy le Grand in mid-October 2012. Composed of a dozen of makeshift shelter housing units, the new camp in the east of the French capital has poor sanitary conditions but the families live there to stay together and be better able to help each other. An estimated 15,000 foreign Roma people were living in illegal camps across France in the summer of 2012.