epa Feature Archive 2016
Approximately 60,000 migrants were stranded in Greece after Macedonia closed its borders to the flow of illegal migration in March 2016. A group of activists helping refugees occupied a disused building in Athens which was the first of a number of abandoned houses, hotels and schools to be turned into refugee accommodation since. These squats are operated on a completely self-sustaining basis by local activists and volunteers from all over the world, who accept food and money to help residents. As these squats provide adequate living conditions, it is difficult to secure a place in one of them, entire families, children and elderly people are being the most eligible applicants. Squatters must observe strict house rules and everyone must have their share of household chores.
Just before President-elect Donald Trump's surprise victory a lonely and sun-scorched corner of southeast Utah was poised to become America's newest national monument. Now, President Barack Obama must decide if it's still worth the political capital to try to protect it. Known as Bear Ears, the proposed 1.9 million-acre monument would preserve a photographer's checklist of high-desert drama: spires, bridges, canyons. Yet the region's true distinction is its cultural significance; perhaps no place in America is as rich with ancient Native American sites as Bear Ears. Five Indian nations attempt to preserve the parcel's 100,000 archeological sites from ongoing looting and grave robbing. In a letter to Obama more than 700 archeologists stressed that looting of the area's many ancient kivas and dwellings was continuing "at an alarming pace" and calling it "America's most significant unprotected cultural landscape."
Palm oil is ubiquitous, you may not know you are eating it but it is used in products as diverse as ice cream, toothpaste, and detergent. In fact, an estimated 50 percent of packaged products sold in supermarkets these days contain some palm oil, according to the World Wildlife Fund, making it the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet. But the demand for more and more land to plant palm oil trees made from the reddish pulp of the fruit, has seen the rapid and rampant destruction and conversion of tropical rainforest habitats into plantations, threatening important ecosystems, displacing and killing threatened and endangered and critically endangered species, among them orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos.
Following the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in 2015, the French government launched a military operation called Sentinelle and deployed French soldiers over the territory to patrol sensitive areas. Only months later, 130 people were killed and hundreds injured in terror attacks which targeted the Bataclan concert hall, the Stade de France, and several restaurants and bars in Paris. In the wake of the attacks, President François Hollande declared a state of emergency and increased the manpower of Operation Sentinelle to 10,000 soldiers with 3,500 troops in Paris, 3,500 in the provinces and 3,000 reserves. On the eve of the first anniversary of the attacks, Yoan Valat spent the day with the Premier Régiment de Saphis de Valence patrolling Paris' 17th district.
All across Myanmar the performing Zat Pwe troupes bring song, comedy, dance and theater to the people of Burma following a tradition that stared in the 19th century. The San Pya Thabin Theater was founded more than 50 years ago and now numbers 85 performers. The troupe is led by three family members who are the grandchildren of the troupe's founder and then leading male dancer. The troupe started with traditional Burmese dance but this changed after the 1988 uprising. 'The military regime did not want large gatherings of people so our troupes mostly focused on rural communities.' Due to a lack of electricity and transportation for rural audiences the troupes decided to perform until dawn allowing the audience to be able to return to their homes far away in the safety of daylight. This additional time for the show meant space for more content and variety in their acts.
A photograph published in many media outlets is the starting point of this story. It shows Syrian refugees carrying their belongings as they walk towards Greek policemen during the evacuation of the makeshift camp in Idomeni, Greece. Spanish volunteer Angie Carabassa recognized them in the picture and eventually managed to find them a home in Nea Karvali, Greece. The father and his two daughters now live along with other three Syrians and a newborn child at a house rented by the Spanish NGO “Himaya”. The house doesn’t have many comforts but at least the basics are provided. The house rent, electricity, water and internet are paid by the NGO and the six Syrians also receive 200 euros per month for the rest of their expenses.
A four-part feature exploring the dynamic range of influences and the creativity of fashion professionals in Africa. Four Soweto hair stylists create waves in the South African fashion scene after starting their own underground fashion trend combining cheaper and second hand clothes and breaking gender stereotypes. In Liberia the fashion industry faces challenges from imported Chinese goods. Roger Bango Koffi began his craft sewing in the impoverished center of the country. His designs increased in popularity and he managed to found the label Korha. Nicole-Marie Iresh founded the brand Township for women in South Africa's township communities. The designers interpreted and translated recurring township colours, patterns, shapes and textures into distinctive and expressive print designs. The Kenyan fashion industry has been affected by the second-hand clothing trade, known as 'mitumba'. It has also opened new opportunities for businesses and new upcoming designers and stylists who use second-hand clothes as part of their creations.
Known as the Roof of the World with an average elevation of 4,900 metres, Tibet is home to some of the world's highest and largest mountains and plateaus. Its capital city Lhasa houses UNESCO World Heritage sites like the famous Potala Palace and Norbulingka. China is heavily promoting tourism in the region and plans to attract 24 million tourists this year. According to local reports, tourism revenue accounted for over 27% of the region's gross domestic product in 2015 where a record 20 million tourists contributed 28 billion RMB to Tibet's tourism industry. Though tourism undisputedly brought much needed infrastructure investment, development and jobs there are fears that little of the benefits will flow to the Tibetan people while eroding local cultures and causing environmental damage.
Originally created by East Africa’s best-known newspaper cartoonist Godfrey ‘Gado’ Mwampembwa, The XYZ Show, Kenya’s popular satirical television program has been taking pokes at the country’s political elites and international figures since 2009. It uses puppets made of foaming latex, controlled by two puppeteers, to caricature and lampoon top politicians and other social personalities. With the US presidential election only months away, the show is now taking on Donald Trump. ‘Even though it’s not our election, it’s something that we hope to keep commenting about’, says the show’s head writer Loi Awat about featuring Trump on the show. ‘Things he talks about are also things we are dealing with in Kenya, like immigration issues and closing down of refugee camps for Somalis’.
While tens of thousands of foreign tourists predictably flock to safari parks and the endless sandy beaches of Kenya others with a penchant for more unorthodox attractions and activities opt for so-called ‘slum tourism’. For just 2,500 Kenya shillings per person, tourists are steered by local tour companies in the direction of one of the largest and most dangerous slums in Africa – the Kibera slum in Nairobi. Sometimes referred to as ‘poverty tourism’ by western tourists, the tour operators claim that these tours help raise awareness to the issue of poverty and bring much needed extra income to the slum dwellers who live on less than a couple of dollars a day. However the residents of the slums see it entirely different, arguing they do not benefit anything from it and that tourists come only to see and take photographs of their plight. But some tourists see it from another perspective.
Not far from the refurbished Kyalami F1 race track in Johannesburg is a small, virtually dirt race track attracts only the brave and rare 'petrol heads' on some Sundays to race against each other in the hot sun for bragging rights and a trophy. The track is home to the Walkerville Speedway Racers Club and is home to speedway racing that includes flat track racers, sidecar racers and a new breed; the Stof Kop racers. 'Stof Kop' is an Afrikaans phrase loosely described as 'Dirt Head'. Recently the first 'Stof Kop' race meeting in South Africa was held at the track. Many of the racers were on 'old school' motorbikes; modern motorbikes with a more classic styling harking back to the great rockers area of the 1960's when there was no ABS brakes, fuel injected motors and computers running the machine.
Soccer culture and soccer sports has been growing faster in China in recent years, most notably after President Xi Jinping professed his love for the sport and expressed his wish to see China qualify for the FIFA World Cup and to one day host and win the most coveted trophy of the soccer world. In its push to become the world's top soccer superpower, the Chinese government has unveiled plans to reach its goal of being among the top teams by 2050. Billions of dollars have been channeled into the Chinese game, most notably in the form of high-profile signings of foreign stars into the Chinese Super League. The 16-team league has spent a record 366 million US dollars acquiring players like Brazilian stars Alex Teixeira and Ramires.
Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic nun born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu to Albanian parents in Skopje, Macedonia, on 26 August 1910. She joined the Sisters of Loreto order in 1928 and was sent to the convent in Darjeeling where she took her first vows. During a train ride she was inspired to begin missionary work with the poor in Calcutta and founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta in 1950. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and India's highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, for her humanitarian work. The Missionaries of Charity grew to consist of more than 4,000 nuns running hundreds of orphanages, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and clinics around the world. Following her death, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II and, in 2016, canonised by Pope Francis.
Asia's population is more than 4.4 billion people and rising, the region claims more than half of the total world's population. China with about 1.38 billion people is the most populous nation, but projections state that India will take the lead, in less than a decade. Better healthcare and an increase in life expectancy are the main reasons for the world population to grow at a rate of about 1.13 percent per year. World Population Day is observed on 11 July annually since it was established by the United Nations in 1989. It aims at drawing attention to issues created by changing demographics and population trends.
With the opening of Ark Encounter - a re-creation of Noah’s Ark, built by creationist Ken Ham in rural Kentucky, with the help of state tax incentives and the sale of USD 62 million in junk bonds - the business models behind Christian-themed destinations may require a new level of financial faith. If Ham’s ambitions appear quixotic, the relics of other Christian destinations, sprinkled throughout the back roads of America, reveal a sobering reality. In Connecticut, graffiti covers a stainless steel cross at the remains of the biblical theme park Holy Land USA, which closed in 1984; in Iowa, cardboard cutouts of Jesus and Saint Peter protrude from a pond outside the recently shuttered Museum of Religious Arts; and along a Maryland roadside, the steel frame of another ark, this one begun 40 years ago by a now-retired pastor has sat unfinished for 19 years.
Reaching 120cm in height and 28 kg in weight, Pepper does not enter in the category of 'portable' robot. But those characteristics don't stop Tomomi Ota to take Pepper in a cart to stroll in her neighborhood, go shopping or even take the subway. Curiosity pushed her to apply at a lottery sales for the first lot of 200 Pepper. She was lucky enough to acquire then a 'Developer's Pepper', the first models of the robots which need to be programmed by the users. In November 2014 Pepper entered Tomomi's home and was soon adopted by her parents to become a member of the family. Tomomi had to learn programming and her efforts deepened her bonds with her new friend. Capable of reading human emotions and to adapt to his interlocutor, the robot is now used for customer service in stores and 1,000 units are sold out in minutes after going on sale every month.
Each year the International Labour Organization marks the International Day against Child Labour on 12 June to highlight labour abuse of minors. The ILO calculate 168 million children are involved in child labour and 45% of these are found in the Asia-Pacific region. Child labour occurs largely in the rural and informal economy in areas where trade unions and employers’ organizations are often weak or absent and in areas that may be beyond the capacity of labour inspectors to reach. This also holds true for child labour in supply chains, where the work may be done in small workshops or homes, and often goes undetected by firms at the top of the chain. Inadequate education systems heighten the risks and governments must step up their efforts to tackle the problem.
At the secret training camp called Battle Creek in the African bush animals are trained to hunt humans who kill animals. From drones to toxic mass relocations, South Africa's war on poaching is being fought on many fronts. But one of the most effective weapons in the anti-poaching arsenal comes in canine form. An initiative of the Ichikowitz Family Foundation sees dogs and handlers being trained in using Special Forces techniques to try to stem the tide of poaching that has seen thousands of rhinos and other endangered animals killed in South Africa and other African countries over the past decade. Dogs and handlers are drilled to find firearms or contraband, track suspects in the undergrowth and abseil in harnesses from helicopters in pursuit of poachers.
They cannot see but they can hear and play music to make themselves and the audience happy. The Thai Blind Orchestra is Thailand’s first orchestra of its kind, made up of young musicians aged between 9 and 18 years who are blind, visually impaired and/or multiple disabled. It was established in 2014 from an idea of classical musician Alongkot Chukaew. He teaches disabled children by using audible aids and the natural environment. The children were introduced to a braille system to read music and are taught individually to memorize the positions of their fingers when playing their instruments. Some of the children need up to two years to learn how to play an instrument and perform music. The orchestra is funded by charitable organizations and the instruments are donated.
Tibetan Buddhists in China's autonomous Ganzi Prefecture have grown accustomed to applying discretion to their spirituality, especially in showing support to their leader, the Dalai Lama, amid growing surveillance and control by the Communist regime. "Many people carry their faith in their hearts," says a young lama from Kangding, Ganzi's capital, where around 80 percent of the almost one million Tibetan inhabitants live. Not only does Beijing refuse to acknowledge the Dalai Lama, it also accuses him of being behind pro-independence tensions and protests which have been taking place for years in the autonomous region of Tibet and border areas like Ganzi. A Kangding resident tells that although there is tension everywhere, the situation has not spiraled out of control because Tibetans want to protect their culture and know that there are some things they cannot do.
Slavutich is the youngest city in Ukraine and was built in the middle of pinewoods for evacuated personnel of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and their families after the 1986 disaster. Slavutich is a town for youth, a space for secure, unhurried development with 25,000 citizens. Since 2014 the city has held the Festival 86 of film and urbanism. During the event, many people from all over Ukraine and other countries visit to see movies, exhibitions, to dance or to do yoga and at the same time to discover the diverse architecture of Slavutich. Festival 86 aims to address energy issues through film screenings as well as lectures and workshops on urban living. 30 years after Chernobyl, people are finding new and innovative ways to remember the disaster.
A township such as Khayelitsha suffers from high rates of violence, poverty, disease and social distress. Children are born into a cycle of poverty and insecurity believing that rape, hunger, violence, and cruelty are norms. Animals are victims of this environment as much as humans are and the health of the two is undoubtedly linked. Mdzananda Animal Clinic has been serving animals and their community for 20 years is in the midst of a campaign to provide medical treatment to 12 000 animals. Animal abuse and neglect is part of everyday life in townships across South Africa with some of the poorest communities in Khayelitsha being home to the most vulnerable animals in the greater Cape Flats area.
Shaoshan is the hometown of former Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong. Thousands of visitors descend on this small town to pay homage to the ‘Great Helmsman’ every day. It is one of the core sites of the 'Red Tourism' industry, where communist party cadres and ordinary Chinese tourists alike seek to relive the experiences and rekindle the spirit of the revolutionaries. As the Cultural Revolution's 50th anniversary quietly approaches, there is however scant mention of the revolution where millions of intellectuals were persecuted and tortured in a bid to purge critics. Nor the tens of millions of deaths from the famine that resulted from the 'Great Leap Forward', an attempt to modernize the country. To many, Mao continues to be a beloved figure whose achievements more than make up for his mistakes.
In an effort to eradicate child marriage, dowry and extravagant spending at weddings that often leave parents indebted to local moneylenders, a community of former cattle-herders in northern India have been promoting the practice of mass marriages for more than three decades now. Community leaders and their organization ‘All India Pal Assembly’ with the help of local government take the costs of the weddings. The community leaders’ efforts to promote these mass marriages have also had interesting side effects like reducing alcoholism in the community. Before a union is finalised, the groom has to pledge he will not drink.
According to the data provided by Lea Mothers' Home around 14,000 women become mothers per year, between the age of 16 and 24 years-old in Hungary, and a large number of these young mothers live in cumulatively underprivileged circumstances. Lea Mothers' Home assists many of these young women who are under crisis while becoming mothers, and supports them to get ready to live the life of a normal family. One of the main tasks of the home is to grant babies a peaceful and suitable place to come into the world in decent circumstances. It also helps babies and young mothers to stay together after the successful delivery despite of their disadvantageous backgrounds.
On 26 April 1986, an explosion occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukrainian SSR, now Ukraine, causing a fire to rage through the building. Large quantities of radioactive contamination went into the atmosphere and spread over much of Western Russia and Europe. Nearby villages, as well as a 30 kms zone around the damaged plant, had to be evacuated as radiation levels reached lethal levels. Two workers died as a result of the initial explosion, and 28 firemen and emergency clean-up workers lost their lives as a result of acute radiation syndrome and cardiac arrest in the three months following the disaster. Thirty years have passed since the accident and life has not returned to normal in the disaster-affected area: levels of radiation remain high yet life seems to recover slowly.
Mali Gurung was thankful when her baby boy was recovered alive from their destroyed home in Barpak, close to the epicenter of the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal. Millions of Nepalese are still struggling with the harsh reality of 25 April 2015 when a 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck the nation. It killed more than 9,000 people, injured at least 23,000, wiped out 200,000 homes, 20,000 schools and destroyed more than 700 monuments. Kathmandu was one of the most heavily damaged districts, with most of its historical buildings collapsing. The quake caused avalanches, mudslides, ground displacement and soil liquefaction. Due to ground displacement, most of the underground water sources were blocked and irrigation systems were hampered.
Liberia along with Sierra Leone and Guinea is one of the three West African states hardest hit by the deadly Ebola virus with more than 10,600 Ebola cases recorded and more than 4,800 deaths. According to WHO statistics, Liberia now has more than 4000 Ebola survivors and clinics are currently busy treating post-Ebola symptoms. Thousands of families have been ripped apart in an indiscriminate and brutal way with the disease often claiming the primary income provider for the family. The shock waves of the disease have rippled through all parts of the culture, customs and economy. For months, Liberians were not able to touch each other for fear of spreading the disease. The burial rituals were altered and the normal functioning of society changed. Now in its wake, a nation struggling to emerge from 14 years of brutal civil war now has a new challenge to overcome.
The pupils attend first grade of the Vecsey Karoly Member Institute of Moricz Zsigmond Primary School in Nyiregyhaza, 245 kms east of Budapest, Hungary, which runs an integration program for children with disabilities. The parents of Nandor and Peter opted for this elementary school instead of a special needs education alternative to help their children develop social and cognitive skills in a regular school environment.
Ever increasing amounts of plastic waste are pouring into the world’s oceans at an alarming rate. The world’s oceans, marine life, and our futures are at risk as an ever increasing disposable lifestyle push demand for more and more plastics. Plastic waste in all its forms are among the gamut of plastic detritus choking our waterways. Plastic is swallowed by marine animals and these pieces get lodged in the marine life’s guts, so that they slowly starve to death. Human commitment to stop this plastic strangulation is alarmingly low, say environmentalists, but the situation is reaching a crisis point as the health of our marine life and jobs on the sea in fishing and tourism are at risk. By 2050, a study predicted that without intervention and change of behavior, there is likely to be as an equal amount of plastic weight in the sea as there is fish weight.
Grapes and wines produced in Thailand have borne fruit, overcoming the odds created by heat, lack of seasons and geography. The industry has its roots firmly planted and is now harvesting the rewards of an expanding wine culture boosted by international awards and accolades. The Siam winery has its largest vineyard at Hua Hin. There, vines, imported from Australia, France, Germany and Italy, are planted in deep sandy loam soil and slate soil, on about 10ha of land that once housed an ancient elephant corral. At the start of each harvest, a dinner in the vineyard is celebrated by staff and clients. Guests pick grapes, join in grape crushing and then wander through the vines to a table and hay bales to enjoy a banquet of Thai food and taste the wine range.
A 22-year old artist has transformed one of Jerusalem's traditional main market places into an artistic attraction that has been dubbed The Shuk Gallery. Solomon Souza, a former Londoner, targeted the Mahane Yehuda Market – often referred to as 'The Shuk' – for his graffiti portraits and other scenes, using the closed shutters of the area's shops and in the process developed a nightly attraction for both tourists and local residents who use the cafes at night. Established in the late 19th century, the market has since 2015 become the focal point of the spray-painted graffiti work of Souza who immigrated to Israel a few years ago and who has so far created some 150 mural works featuring well-known faces from Jewish history, including religious, biblical and cultural figures.
Although a number of mining firms have been granted gold exploration licenses and have been operating, the country's gold mining industry is still young and the gold-rich areas of western Kenya remain largely under-explored. The recent explorations are said to have revealed large gold deposits in western Kenya, which could put Kenya on the map of the top gold producers in Africa. Gold miners are exposed to various risks, from health risks exposed by unsafe use of mercury to the risk of death from a mine collapse. In Migori and other areas they earn about three to five US dollars (300-500 Kenya shillings) per day. The unregulated nature of the industry leaves men, women, and often young children, working under perilous conditions without safety equipment nor the luxury to afford such items.
Five years after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami all the stores remain shuttered. The town is entirely within the exclusion zone that was imposed after the disaster. The only remaining inhabitants are the rats after authorities evacuated the 20 kilometer area around the plant when it suffered explosions and radiation leaks, forcing Namie’s 21,000 residents to leave. About 70 per cent of Namie’s evacuees were relocated within Fukushima prefecture, while the rest were dispersed all over the country. Mihara’s family started a new life in Chiba prefecture some 235 kilometers away. According to a survey conducted in September 2015 by the town hall, almost half of Namie’s evacuees have decided not to return. Decontamination efforts is increasing, but slow progress has meant that most of Namie’s residents have abandoned their hopes of returning home.
Five years after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami some of the affected places have seen big changes. Entire landscapes of tsunami-devastated areas have been affected after land was raised 15 meters or more in some parts to prevent another tsunami, especially in residential areas and national highways. In some places, it looks like residents are returning to everyday life, whereas in others, the land is still filled with wreckage and debris, and is just beginning to get cleaned up. All reminders of how some of these places looked are gone and some residents say that reconstruction progress is very slow. Five years on, Japan is still coming to terms with the consequences of the powerful earthquake and the ensuing humanitarian and environmental catastrophe.
The photo series introduces nine Hungarian female professionals who pursue careers in male-dominated occupations. The gallery was created to mark the upcoming International Women's Day (IWD), which was marked for the first time in 1911 and is celebrated on 08 March since 1913. March 08 was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly as the day for women's rights and world peace in 1977.
Deep in the hilly hinterland five clowns from 'Clowns Without Borders South Africa' take to their makeshift 'stage' amongst the cattle, sheep and pigs of the rural community schools near King Williams Town, to use the method of humanitarian clowning to bring an important message to the adoring schoolchildren and local community members. The clowns aim to bring emotional and psychosocial relief to the communities through laughter and play. In addition, they aim to help educate people about the importance of saving water, as water resources in South Africa face a serious shortage and the worst drought in three decades. Finally, they hand out soap and incorporate hand washing and basic hygiene into their show, so as to educate them in the importance of washing their hands.
In March 2011, the Hatakeyama family saw their oyster business destroyed by the tsunami following the earthquake. In the pristine coastal inlet of Moune Bay 44 out of the 52 households were washed away by the tsunami and most of the fishing boats destroyed. Standing on a high hill above the inlet, the father’s house survived. Without electricity and contact with the outside world for many days, the family members were able to survive by eating the food stock cooked over a fire in the backyard, and by collecting water from mountain streams. Five years later, their business is rebuilt and thriving. Production of oysters and scallops is at a new record high. Local residents who lost their homes and livelihoods have discovered a new sense of community and pride in their fishing heritage.
The Sholokhov Moscow Presidential Cadet Academy is the eighth presidential cadet school to open in Russia. The corps opened in 2002 as a boarding school for orphans and children from single-parent families. The cadet academy comprises an educational building, medical and dental offices, a center for continuing education for acting and dancing, a library, rooms for individual creative and sporting activities, a sports town with gym, a laser shooting range, parade grounds and an obstacle course. All classrooms and laboratories are equipped with modern facilities including interactive whiteboards, plasma screens and Internet access. Cadets are provided with three uniforms, six meals per day, accommodation shared between 2 to 6 people and shower facilities.
Indian traditional wrestling also known as Kushti is an ancient sport with a glorious past. Traditional Dangal (competition) is a unique way of promoting the local Pehlwan or wrestlers who practice traditional wrestling in India. During the Dangal, hundreds of local Pehlwan come from the nearby regions or states to participate and to display their skills. Depending on the importance of the competition and the amount of the prize money, the number of participants can reach more than 100 wrestlers. Dangal is very popular among the villagers and in the rural areas in northern India and most of the time it is organized by local clubs or traditional Indian gyms, as well by local politicians to gain popularity. During the tournament, all Kushtis take place in rings made of clay or mud, sometimes mixed with ghee, mustard oil, turmeric and other materials which are believed to act as antiseptics.
Soligalich is one of the smallest towns in Russia with its 6,000 residents. In 1917 the Bolshevic Communist revolution destroyed all the beauty of its multiple churches, monasteries and manors of industrialists and businessmen. The results of this social tragedy are still visible in ruined churches and total poverty. Now the market economy transformation threatens the typical small Russian province town. The main threat is depopulation. Soligalich has almost no industry or modern service sector. There are only a felt boots workshop, a small cheese-milk factory, a bakery, and some lumber cooperatives. The felt boot production workshop shows Russian tradition going back centuries, but also symbolises Russian economic backwardness.
Excessive mobile phone usage has been a common global phenomenon with some studies going as far as to label it an addiction. Recent studies show that Thai people spend more than 50 hours a week on the internet searching information or chatting, and around seven hours a day surfing the internet. However, these figures are sharply increasing. Although some studies show the positive sides of mobile technology such as the ability to stay closer to loved ones who live faraway there are far too many negative aspects to ignore. These include higher traffic accident rates due to drivers using their phones to text or talk; loss of jobs or relationships to excessive and inappropriate phone usage; and of course harassment in chatrooms and bullying of school aged youngsters.
Life is hard for many in Korogocho, Kenya. Many youths, having given up on finding proper jobs that provide a stable income, turn to crimes or prostitution. Started in 2008 as a joint project with the Art Of Music Foundation in one of the largest slums in Nairobi, Korogocho, the Kenyan youth orchestra Ghetto Classics is directed by Elizabeth Njoroge. It has some 40 members who practice with mostly donated instruments every week in Korogocho, where hundreds of thousands of people live in impoverished and hostile environments. The project currently teaches some 600 students. Njoroge says she hopes to teach the youths of the slum important life skills and to transform their lives using the art and disciplines that come with learning classical music.
In Beijing's Shichahai sports school, sixteen young women are training to become professional female boxers. They hope to compete in the world championships and even the Olympics one day. The Beijing women's boxing team has a relatively short history as women’s boxing has only become more popular in recent years. Formed in 2010, the team first started with eight members and has now grown to 16. The young women train full time for six days a week. They live and train at the school where food and accommodations are provided by the government for professional athletes. Members come from all over China and many are selected from sports schools in provinces outside Beijing or transferred from other martial arts sports. Women's boxing has taken a prominence in China and is no longer viewed as only a men's sport.
Bagan is Myanmar’s ancient city and was built between the 9th and 13th centuries. The city is the capital of some 55 Buddhist Kings ruled by the Bagan or Pagan dynasty. The emperor is the first kingdom to unify the regions that constitute now Myanmar and established Burmese culture and ethnicity. The city is located on the east banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River in the Mandalay region. The kingdom raised and flourished in 11th to 13th centuries. Over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were built on the plains - the remains of around 2,200 temples and pagodas still exist. Bagan is one of the world’s richest archaeological sites and currently a nominee for UNESCO World Heritage listing. Most of the residents in Bagan work and have a business related with tourism.
Israel's street cat population is estimated to be more than two million. Due to lack of funding from the state, veterinary services and animal rights organizations are unable to keep up with the growing population when it comes to spaying and neutering. According to the animal welfare organization Spay Israel the average lifespan of a street cat is between one and one and a half years. These felines have to fight for their food and against predators and diseases. Survivors inevitably breed. Spay Israel claims that spaying and neutering prolongs the cats' lifespan and is the only way to control the population. Minister Uri Ariel recently suggested that street cats be deported as a means of tackling the problem. Citing Jewish Halacha law, he argues that it is forbidden to spay and neuter animals as it contradicts God's wishes for them to 'be fruitful and multiply'.
The container village for migrant construction workers in Samut Prakan on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, was setup by a construction company with the purpose of housing employed migrant workers for the estimated three years it will take to build a block of condominiums. The workers living here come from Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos although there are also a few Thai workers. Yellow rows of three-story high customized shipping containers, interconnected by stairways and walkways occupy about half of the village. There are also shops selling vegetables, drinks and other foods as well as a school and playground for the workers’ children.