epa Feature Archive 2014
Barnabas Jozsef Antal’s life slipped off the track when his son was killed in an accident. His relationship with his wife broke down and he became an alcoholic. When he was dismissed from an institute for addicts, he went to the cathedral of Nyiregyhaza, Hungary, to make a confession. According to witnesses before the confession he looked like a dying man and he looked like a healthy man right after it. Since then he has attended masses every day. On 24 December 2014, he put on his best clothes to the midnight Christmas Eve mass at the Nyiregyhaza cathedral. 'All I need are friendly words', he replies when asked about his wishes.
‘Beedis’ are thin hand-rolled cigarettes filled with tobacco flake, usually wrapped in tendu tree leaves. Beedi making is entirely a manual process that involves skills such as rolling, sorting, baking, labelling and packing. Hundreds of thousands of workers in India’s beedi Industry are allegedly working long hours in illegal factories and homes, akin to sweatshops with unfair wages and dangerous working conditions. Beedi rollers don’t wear protective clothing as gloves or masks so they are unprotected from the tobacco dust absorbed through their skin and by inhaling the harmful particles which could cause respiratory problems.
The volunteer movement for the Ukrainian army and self-defense forces is very expanded and developed, trying to provide soldiers with everything necessary. Ukrainian people support their army according to their abilities and possibilities. They donate money, food and warm clothes, or medicines and medical supplies. Volunteers help injured soldiers, or they offer patriotic lessons in schools and send personal parcels, letters and children's pictures to the front lines. Volunteers operate like small organizations that share their resources with each other, depending on what one's particular battalion needs and asks for.
German philanthropist Philipp Graf von Hardenberg, shocked by the scale of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, that swept away more than 5,000 people’s lives in Thailand alone, and shattered local communities living and visiting the idyllic coastal beaches of the area, asked friends and colleagues to donate, and launched a fund raising program to start the Yaowawit home school. Now, ten years after the tsunami, most communities have rebuilt and many tourists returned. Yaowawit continues to grow and offers home and primary education for under-privileged and disadvantaged children of the area.
Euromaidan, or Maidan movement, was a wave of protests that escalated into deadly civil unrest in Kiev, Ukraine, which lasted several months after it started at the end of November 2013. The movement, a reaction to the refusal of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to sign an EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, called for Yanukovych and his cabinet’s resignation. The Ukrainian government were accused of corruption and of hindering Ukraine’s integration with the EU. Yanukovych was eventually ousted following several ultimatums made by the Maidan activists, who were led by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Oleh Tyahnybok and Vitali Klitschko. Yanukovych fled to Russia in February 2014 after a violent police crackdown on the protesters left at least 100 people dead.
On 05 December 2013 former South African president Nelson Mandela passed away at the age of 94 in Johannesburg. He left behind an incredible legacy for all of South Africa and the rest of the world. Mandela's home province Eastern Cape was the birthplace to many great black anti-Apartheid leaders including Thabo Mbeki, Chris Hani, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Steve Biko. The province that was at the heart of the fight against white minority rule in South Africa for decades. Ordinary men and women from this province have been asked all the same question: 'What does Nelson Mandela mean to you one year after his death?'
Quoted in Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey as the sweet and soft wine of Santorini and Crete, the light wines of Rhodes or the aromatic wines of Lesbos, wine has survived throughout the centuries, playing an important role in the life of Greek society. The Greeks learned the cultivation and production of wine from the Phoenicians and Egyptians and developed a trading network in all countries of the Mediterranean where wine was exchanged for cereals, gold, copper, ivory, and others items. In ancient Greece the ships transporting Greek wines were also transferring the Greek culture; nowadays, wine is an integral part of Greek daily and economic life of the country.
The world of 'Lucha Libre' is one in which the athletic ability of freestyle wrestling encounters the art of dramatic showmanship. The ring becomes a staging ground for acrobatic battles opposing masked fighters. Scripted storylines of good versus evil contextualize these fights in which luchadores play characters from either the 'Technicos' or the 'Rudos' faction. A third and more unusual faction exists: The Exotico - male wrestlers performing in drag. The feminine costumes and sexual ambiguity displayed by Exoticos contrasts with the machismo and virility boasted by luchadores - but in no way detracts from their physical prowess and combat skills in the ring.
Clashes between the Islamic State forces and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party have been ongoing for more than a month in Kobane, Syria. About 200,000 refugees fleeing the conflict migrated to Turkey and settled in the city of Sanliurfa. Nearly half of these Syrian refugees are children. Many children, under the age of 18, have no choice but to work in order to financially support their families. They mostly work between 7 and 12 hours per day, in clothing stores, restaurants, repair shops, bakeries, or food markets.
'Tear down this wall!' In 1987, US President Ronald Reagan pronounced these words to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev during a speech at the Brandenburg Gate. The Berlin Wall came down two years later and Germany was reunified after 28 years of separation. The building of the Wall began on 13 August 1961. German Democratic Republic (GDR) armed forces started to seal off the eastern part of the city with road barriers to build an 'anti-Fascist protective barrier.' During a press conference on 09 November 1989, the spokesperson of GDR government Guenter Schabowski announced the immediate opening of the inner German border. After his statement tens of thousands of GDR citizens flocked to the border crossing points.
After the Berlin Wall dividing East and West Berlin fell on 09 November 1989, it became a symbol of Germany’s divided past. Residents and tourists chipped away at it, keeping fragments of it for their own souvenirs. The fall of the wall led to German Reunification in October 1990. The wall was not entirely destroyed. A 1.3 km section still stands in Berlin today in the form of the East Side Gallery - a hugely popular tourist attraction for those wishing to see some concrete evidence that two Berlins once existed. Segments of the wall are on display all over the world. Germany gifted parts of the wall to other countries, while other segments were sold after the fall of the wall.
Thousands of people work every day under harsh conditions in a landscape where brown coal dominates. Ash, dust and dense clouds of smoke from burning coal cover the sky at the 160 km2 Lignite Center of Western Macedonia that belong to Greece’s state-owned Public Power Corporation (PPC). Lignite is considered the black gold of Greece and accounts for 30 percent of the country's energy supply. Eighteen power plants produce 52.1 percent of the country's electricity. Workers have to cope with the difficult labor conditions on the one hand and the danger of losing their job on the other hand as PPC is the main job provider in the area.
Grandma Kyauk Mae is the name her new ‘neighbors’ have given her. It is the name of her hometown in the northern Shan State of Myanmar. Her real name is Kyin Than and she is 81. The old lady was forsaken by her family and took refuge in the meditation center ThaBarWa near Yangon more than a year ago. There she found a new home and a place, she said, she will live out for the rest of her life. Her story is that of many old people in Myanmar, where about 10 percent of the population older than 80 years live alone. Myanmar does not have a social network to provide appropriate care of its older people.
The majority of Pokot tribe boys in Alale are unable to attend school due to their daily duty of cattle herding and their role in the community as 'warriors' to protect livestock from cattle rustlers of the neighboring Turkana tribe. ‘These boys need to go to school instead of fighting and living in a fear that they might be killed by raiders from Turkana', says Dinah Hellen Chebitwey who has been teaching them the game of archery. She hopes to engage her counterpart in Turkana to create a program where boys from two rival communities can compete in the game of archery to deepen exchanges and learn to embrace peace.
Helen, an Alpine village in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia, transformed itself from a sleepy, former lumber town to a Bavarian-inspired tourist destination. In 1968, a group of local businessmen began the task of resurrecting the village, giving an Alpine look to the entire town by working with a local artist who had spent time in Germany and who drew the sketches of the new facades. Since 1970, the Oktoberfest has been celebrated amongst the gingerbread-trimmed buildings. Organizers then and now are inspired by the world's largest funfair in Munich, Germany. Helen, a village with less than 500 inhabitants, now hosts up to two million visitors a year.
Djerba Island has invited 150 international artists to take part in the street art project ‘Djerbahood’, curated by Tunisian-French artist Mehdi Ben Cheikh. In summer 2014, artists from about 30 nations have travelled to Erriadh to create murals of their choice, whilst respecting the authenticity of the local environment. Each artist is welcome to decorate several of the white or cream-colored exterior walls or gates. These artworks form an exceptional urban open-air museum. Visitors have access to freely stroll the streets watching the artists at work. Erriadh, one of the oldest villages in Tunisia, has become host to one of the biggest meetings of the modern street art scene.
Aishah Samad almost lost her life and had to amputate all four of her limbs due to a severe bacterial infection in 2012. But that has not stopped her from picking up the rifle again. The 2003 bronze medalist in the South East Asia Games aims to return to her beloved sport and compete in the next Paralympic Games, thanks to her newly fitted bionic prosthetic arms and legs. Through charity drives and the help of family and friends, the 42-year-old sportswoman managed to raise money for prosthetic arms. The new arms are operated by twitching the side of her arms against sensors inside the robotic limbs. There are 32 grip patterns including pinching, pointing, giving a good handshake and even one created by her for pulling the trigger of a gun.
Despite being one of the poorest urban areas in the country the Alexandra Township today is a vibrant and colorful township. Children play soccer between shacks as others spend their leisure time on an open field of dirt. Meanwhile, other children have found entertainment as they gather to play on trampolines. The new activity can be seen as twisting bodies, from the Alexandra Township Trampoline Club, jump on two huge trampolines set between two blocks of flats. Coach Hudson Nxumalo watches the children closely, while giving instructions. Six gymnasts have been selected to represent South Africa at the 2014 Indo Pacific Championships.
The Gramofonove Zavody Lodenice factory pressed its first vinyl record in 1951 and was the main producer of vinyl records for the Eastern Bloc. In late 1980s the factory luckily saved record pressing machines though nobody expected that there would be such a vinyl retro mania boom. According to them their factory is the world's biggest vinyl record producer today – minting over 10.5 million vinyl records in 2013. As a motivational tool GZ offers lifetime contracts to the best of their over 1,900 employees. They also offer good payment conditions and extra benefits. Manual professions are not very popular nowadays and companies struggle to find skilled technical workers.
The O.Z.O.R.A. festival is one of the most important festivals of the 'Goa' music style. Usually attended by festival goers from 60-70 countries worldwide, it attracted 15,000 fans this year. Organizers say the visitors are connected by the love of psychedelic music as well as the love of environment, and also by the emotional intelligence and the spiritual sensitivity. The first gathering was held in 1999, when the total solar eclipse could be observed from Hungary. The festival is a meeting point of psychedelic music and ancient transcendental cultures, thus visitors can enjoy products of fine arts, theater, underground circus besides concerts and lectures.
The traditional samurai horse festival 'Soma-Nomaoi,' which means 'Soma wild horse chase,' is located just 40 kilometers from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plants. Of the 450 participants riding on horseback and dressed in antique 10th century period costumes, many lived near the nuclear power plants and had to flee their homes after the 11 March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. A large number are still unable to return to their homes due to radiation levels. The festival has been held annually for more than a millennium and has its origins when a samurai lord started using local wild horses for war games.
Top Fuel, Funny Car, Super Gas, Pro Mod, Super Stock and Pro Stock – the world’s fastest drag racers compete in these categories at the Toyota Summernationals in Englishtown, New Jersey, USA every year. A drag race is a competition of acceleration from a standing start between two cars or motorbikes with the loser of each race being eliminated until only one competitor remains. Super Gas is one of the most difficult classes in which the driver travels a distance of ¼ mile in no less than 9.90 seconds. Competitors are as diverse as the vehicles: young, old, professional, non-professional, men, women and all ethnic backgrounds.
Every day at dawn, in the Lebanese port city of Sidon, about 500 fishermen set sail into the Mediterranean Sea. In Sidon, which means fishing or fishery in Arabic, fishing has long been a traditional profession for the inhabitants, with its ancient harbor that dates back to the Phoenician era. Fishing in Sidon is a profession that is passed down through the generations. Every day they spend hours in their boats, setting and fixing up their nets. Some families can't afford to buy new nets, so fishermen must sometime enlist the help of their wives and children to repair their damaged nets and boats. The fishermen's catch is sold at the local fish market in Sidon.
Legend has it that in 1346 Orhan Gazi and 40 of his warriors departed from the Ottoman capital city of Edirne to occupy Rumelia. The warriors started to wrestle for fun during the campaign in Greece. Two of them were unable to break the deadlock, with the stalemate continuing for days. Eventually, both fighters died of exhaustion. They were buried under a fig tree where, years later, several springs would be found. The site was hence named Kirkpinar (Forty Springs). The festival has attracted increasing numbers of visitors every year since it was added to the UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The first ever transsexual beauty contest was staged in Turkey – a bold move given that Lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender persons face continual legal challenges and discrimination even though homosexuality is legal in the country. Watched by a crowd of around 500 of mixed sexual orientation, a jury of veteran transsexuals awarded points to the competitors who appeared first in bikinis and later in a full dress show. Some of the participants were afraid of their family who don’t know their sexual choice or because they work for governmental institutions so there was a high-level risk of being ‘exposed’ and therefore a potential for violent attacks.
The word Kumari literally means virgin in Nepali. The living goddesses are young pre-pubescent girls that are considered to be incarnations of the Hindu goddess of power, Kali. They are worshipped in Nepal by both Hindus and Buddhists until they reached puberty. Samita Bajracharya became Kumari in October 2010. Her life as a Living Goddess came to an end with her first menstruation in March 2014. She retired as Kumari and completed the 12-day Newari ritual 'Gufa' or marriage ceremony with Sun God that ended at Bagmati river in Patan and represents the end of her life as the living goddess.
I follow a man inside an old building and up the stairs to a roof where roosters are running around or sitting in cages. A small circle on the ground built of iron bars, awnings and two old carpets catches my eye. This is a hidden cockfighting arena. Cockfighting is an ancient spectator sport originating in Asia and dating back about 6,000 years. Nobody knows when exactly it came to Turkey. The breeders take very good care of their animals, as they are a valuable source of income. However, cockfights are prohibited by law in Turkey for two main reasons: animal abuse and gambling. The amounts of betting in some fights can reach up to 100,000 Euro.
In recent years the green tea powder has also become popular as a flavor, color and nutrient additive in sweets, drinks and health products. Part of the recent international popularity of maccha is because it is a powerful antioxidant. According to medical reports it has dozens of times more antioxidants than blueberries, wolfberries or dark chocolate. The health benefits has been known in Asia since the early 12th century where it was originally drunk by Zen Buddhist priests in China and Japan for its health and mental stimulant benefits. Kyoto is renowned for making the finest maccha in the world. May is the harvest season for the young tea leaves used in making maccha.
Eve is expecting her second child. Her first descendant was born in a hospital when there was no regulation or law for home birth in Hungary. In this occasion, she and her husband Peter decided to choose the home birth option. In Hungary the law on regulating home birth has been in force since May 2011 and it is focused on the midwives’ regulations as they are required to have a registered license, a certificate and a medical insurance in order to practice. The home birth is not financed by the official health insurance system in Hungary and has a fixed price that covers all the services that maternity requires.
The maple syrup season marks the end of the often brutal central Canadian winters and heralds the beginning of spring. The maple tree, whose leaf dominates Canada's flag, plays both a symbolic and practical role in the identity of Canadians who produce around 95 percent of the world's supply of maple syrup. The maple tree stores starch in their trunks and roots before the cold of winter sets in and is then converted to simple sugars which rise in a liquid commonly known as sap in the spring. Producers tap into this natural flow to collect the sap which is boiled down to produce Maple Syrup - a golden, sweet and sticky liquid with the distinctive flavor of maple.
The year 2014 sees the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI which according to official statistics cost more than 37 million military and civilian casualties between 1914 and 1918. This global war is regarded as the first 'modern warfare' conflict with the warring parties using then state-of-the-art technology, including weapons of mass destruction such as poisonous gas, submarines, capital war ships as well as battle tanks or aircraft. Commemorative events and exhibitions are prepared these days worldwide to honor the victims, soldiers and civilians alike. The centenary of the start of World War I will also be given a special attention by EU leaders, who will hold their June summit near where some of the major Western Front battles were fought.
The 20th FIFA World Cup takes place from 12 June to 13 July 2014. Fivefold champion Brazil will host the World Cup finals for the second time after 1950. Prior to the event we compiled a photo selection on the twelve cities hosting the matches of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil and the Brazilian host cities of the international soccer tournament: Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Cuiaba, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Sao Paulo.
As the turbulent political events stroke the Ukrainian society, a wave of protests spread in Kiev joined by a young generation seeking closer integration with the European Union and better life for the Ukrainians. The Maidan also aimed to define a new system of values. Demonstrators experienced a large rage of feelings and emotions, from anger, rage, pain, sorrow, grief, dignity, pride, gratitude to joy and love. These feelings led all kinds of artists, from art students to occasional street artists, from Ukraine or from abroad, to express themselves. While walking through the Maidan square, many forms of art could be encountered: shrines to the fallen protesters made of colored pavement stones, propaganda posters of Ukrainian self-defense forces, anarchist wall paintings or stencils depicting Ukraine motherland as a crying young woman or drawings calling for peace.
Laguiole, a small village in the Aveyron region of France, built a worldwide reputation on its famous traditional style of knife. Created in 1829, the Laguiole knife is now considered as an institution. In 1987 the Laguiole knife manufacturing company named ‘La Forge de Laguiole’ was created. Overlooked by an 18-meter-high blade designed by Philippe Starck the manufacture has become a symbol for the villagers. Since a few years, they are involved in a legal battle over who owns the rights to the name ‘Laguiole’. Until now anyone can use this name for knives and the ‘Laguiole’ knife is now massively produced elsewhere. Director of the Laguiole Forge Thierry Moysset keeps repeating that the ‘Made in France" is first a philosophy. Each knife is unique and requires several hours, several days sometimes, of work, following unchanged techniques, to be achieved.
In 1925 the All-Union Young Pioneer camp Artek consisted of tents for only 80 children. The center grew fast and by 1969 Artek stretched seven kilometers along the coast of the Black Sea. In Soviet times, it was considered a privilege to receive a voucher for the trip to Artek. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, fewer and fewer visitors came and the camp finally closed its doors in 2009. The Ukraine government briefly brought the site back to life as a training center for athletes competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Sadly it now operates as a transit refugee camp for Ukraine residents wanting to receive the Russian citizenship.
When getting close to the Southern Coast of the Crimean peninsula, visitors can already start to experience its amazing landscapes, visit heritage monuments and historical architecture as well as enjoy its gastronomy by tasting its world renowned wines, in a region that was once a jewel of the Russian Empire and retreat of the tsars. Massandra is the first underground winery of the tunnel type and the oldest wine cellar in the Crimean region. Nowadays, Massandra is one of the largest wine making enterprises in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). It consists of eight small companies for the production of wine.
The leather industry is an employment intensive sector of the Indian economy with a vast potential for growth and exports but also a pollution intensive industry that relies on cheap labor. Tanning has a long history in India and has been a traditional trade for the poorer groups of the population. In the past, tanning was considered a poisonous profession and thus confined to the outskirts of settlements, amongst the poor. One of the major production centers for leather and leather products is located in Calcutta, West Bengal. They are mostly run by local families living and working under indigent conditions. The water and air pollution caused by the tanneries is considerable. Many owners are blamed by local residents and the Pollution Control Board to be negligent when it comes to pollution control.
Poaching is not a sport but an environmental crime since it poses a major threat to the animal’s populations. In Kenya, about 280 elephants and almost 60 rhinos have been killed in 2013, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service. Elephants and rhinoceros are targeted by poachers for their tusks and horns. Ivory is used in mass productions for souvenirs and jewelry. The tusks of one elephant are worth tens of thousands of euros. Especially Asian clients pay good money for rhino horns to use in their traditional medicine. To fight poaching, National Parks and Reserves have been established. As the United Nations on 03 March 2014 marked the first-ever World Wildlife Day, activists and conservationists joined the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to call for a global effort to end illicit wildlife trade.
Each winter in Saranac Lake, New York, USA, the lakes and rivers freeze allowing the tradition of ice harvesting to continue. Dating back to 1897, the ice is specially earmarked for residents to build an ice castle for the annual winter carnival. The first castles were built by ‘Icemen’, who made their winter income from the harvest and sale of the ice to chill drinks and food in New York City, about 300 miles South. When refrigeration replaced the need to harvest ice, volunteers carried on with the annual ice castle construction. Since 1995, the ‘Shock Incarceration Program’ provides 20-30 non-violent inmates to work as ice builders. Shock is a six-month, boot camp style program where prisoners participate in rigorous community service, substance abuse classes, and academic courses in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Three trawlers took part in a weekly experimental fishing some 40 km away from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and in waters deeper than 135 meters. Leaving in the middle of the night, the boats return to their ports before noon loaded with a variety of species listed by the local fishing cooperative, including squid, octopus and some 15 species of fish. Samples taken from the catch are tested for radioactive contamination with radiation monitoring apparatus. If the samples have radioactivity levels under 50 becquerel/kg, the catch is sold on the local market. The coast off Iwaki is known to be one of the best fishing area in Japan but continuous highly radioactive water leak into the ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is contaminating fishing grounds and leaving fishermen out of work.
Thirty percent of the Soma feudal domain is located within the mandated evacuation zone, the area twenty kilometers in proximity to the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant that is now uninhabitable. In the remaining inhabitable area, the majority of the residents have returned and the schools are now back to over 60 percent of pre-disaster attendance figures. The economic situation of the area still suffers. Michitane Soma lost his large scale mushroom farming business due to the high levels of radiation found at his facilities, located 34 kilometers from the damaged power plant. The once abundant local fishing industry has also been destroyed. The local economy is now dependent on government funded reconstruction and decontamination projects in the local area.
Ahmad Yusni’s account of his brother’s struggle with cancer. "We lost two loved ones in two consecutive years. Then… in 2013, we found out that my younger brother had a critical stage cancer called 'germ cell tumor' (GCT). From our conversation with the doctor, we learned that the cancer was considerable, blocking his kidneys and frontal stomach. This caused him constant pain even though the doctor had provided him with the strongest morphine. He was unable lie on a bed to sleep even for a few minutes. Due to complications he could neither eat nor drink. I found my prayers to God changing… God… please stop his pain even death is the only choice, I can’t stand to see his suffering anymore."
In the township where Mandela cast his first vote after being released from prison the ancient spiritual practice of yoga is changing lives for many residents through the work of the Township Yogi project. Established by Durban based established yoga teachers the project has brought yoga to the poor Zulu communities on South Africa's East Coast. As yoga grows throughout the western world, yoga resonates with those practicing it in the township because of the fact that it offers a mental and physical relief from the hardships of daily living. To date, the project has taught four yoga teachers and they are now teaching a vast cross section of yoga students for free.
As President Obama and lawmakers in Congress consider reining in the National Security Agency's domestic spying program, another surveillance web - this one more localized and visible - continues to sweep up information across Washington, DC. This small town is wired with thousands of spying tools; from standard traffic cameras to sophisticated air samplers, they monitor multiple facets of public life. Managed by an array of local and federal agencies - from the Washington Transit Authority to the U.S. Secret Service -these surveillance devices have become an ubiquitous element of the Washington landscape.