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epa Photo Essays 2019
'Jhakri' is the Nepalese word for shaman; in Nepal it refers to practitioners of the ethnic groups of the Tamang, Magar, Rai, Limbu, and Gurung people. Chet Bahadur Thing, aged 26, is a renowned shaman from the Tamang ethnicity. From a young age, Thing felt a connection with the spiritual world, and learning from his grandfather, he started practicing shamanism at the age of 11. Nowadays, he is considered a Guru or teacher in his community. ‘During ancient times, when there was no medical science or hospitals, shamans used to treat the patients in our village. Even now, people with spiritual problems or body pain visit us for healing or treatment or when doctors cannot heal them.’ Thing explains that the treatment is mainly based on mantras and spiritual insights received from God, as well as through herbal medicines. But if a case requires treatment than the shaman's healing abilities can provide, they encourage patients to seek medical support.
Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan is a charity-run place that offers lodging to those who wish to give up their last breath in the holy city of Varanasi (also known as Banaras or Kashi) to achieve Moksha, a Hindu term for enlightenment or release. There is a saying in Sanskrit, Kashyam Marnata Mukti, which means that one will get Moksha if he dies in Kashi. The city is situated on the banks of river Ganges, one of the holiest sites in Hinduism and Uttar Pradesh for Hindu pilgrims. Many Hindus approaching the ends of their lives come to the sacred city in the belief that they might achieve Moksha by dying and having their ashes scattered in the Ganges River. The so-called ‘death hotel' has 10 rooms for guests, a temple where they have special prayers three times a day, an office room and small quarters for its priests. People from all castes, religions, and countries are welcome. As there are no bookings, the Mukti Bhawan is not a hotel, and the rooms are given on availability.
'Waves for Change' is an organization that uses surfing as a form of therapy to help children who are on the autism spectrum. One out of every 59 children globally are diagnosed with some form of autism, and those affected often suffer from social anxiety and isolation. The organization aims to provide a safe, inclusive space for these children away from school and their homes by having them join an inclusive and accepting community where they are taught coping skills, such as meditation and breathing techniques that help them emotionally regulate and reduce their social anxiety. By assessing each child's ability and level of comfort, the coaches introduce them to the ocean and surfing. The weekly sessions are centered around fun, social interaction, a sense of belonging and access to a supportive mentor.
Every six minutes, someone in Venezuela is subject to cosmetic surgery. In a country where millions of inhabitants suffer from a shortage of medicines, thousands are prepared to spend 50-years of minimum wage just for looking more beautiful. In Venezuela, a country that has been racked by a deep political and economic crisis for over five years, over 200 million US dollars are spent on cosmetic surgery every year. The market mainly targets women, including Genesis Bastidas, who had to choose between spending her savings on breast implants and joining the 4 million other Venezuelans who have emigrated due to the crippling crisis. In a society where young women are encouraged and pushed into going under the knife, Bastidas says that adhering to certain beauty standards and expectations mean that women have a better chance at being successful.
A selection of Chinese ice hockey players have been sent to the Czech Republic in a bid to hone their skills and improve their team performances, as China prepares to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022. Coming from a country with little to no hockey culture, the promising youngsters have traveled to the other side of the world as part of an effort to import top level European ice hockey expertise to China. The China Golden Dragons are being trained by Czech coach Jiri Sejba as part of a program led by a team of experts, including NHL legend Jaromir Jagr. The team will compete in the Czech 2. Liga for the 2019/20 season, which runs until January. The group will be put through a specially designed training program to strengthen their individual and team skills at the Rytiri Kladno hockey club, about 30km outside Prague. Of those Dragons who have travelled to Europe, only the best will make the cut and join the team that competes under the Chinese flag when Beijing hosts winter sports’ biggest event.
The Hableany sightseeing boat carrying 33 South Korean tourists and two Hungarian staff crashed into the Viking Sigyn large river cruise ship and sank in the River Danube on 29 May 2019. Only seven tourists were rescued after the collision, with the rest of the passengers perishing in the frigid waters of the flowing river. The tragic loss of life triggered a powerful and immediate response from members of Hungary’s security and emergency response units, many of whom raced to help the stricken boats and drowning passengers. Dozens of people, including firefighters, marines, soldiers and police, as well as civilian boat operators and employees from nearby vessels, describe in intimate detail the harrowing rescue operation to save the victims and how they toiled in both physically and emotionally extreme conditions.
Kakuma Refugee camp in northwestern Kenya’s arid Turkana county was established in 1992 to house the so-called ‘Lost boys of Sudan’, some 20,000 boys who fled the Second Sudanese Civil war that broke out in 1983 and dragged on for almost 22 years. According to the UNHCR, as of June 2019, Kakuma camp and the adjacent Kalobeyei settlement host 190,181 refugees, the majority of whom come from South Sudan and Somalia. Although the regional government has been working with aid organisations to create a harmonious situation for both refugees and the local ethnic Turkana community, the conflict between the two groups remains a problem. Kenya’s Standard newspaper reported on 11 July 2019 that the two communities clashed at Kakuma camp after a refugee woman was shot by an unknown attacker, bringing local businesses to a standstill.
Across Aceh province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, new plantations and a housing construction boom are threatening the natural environment, pitting humans against the already-critically endangered wild elephants in a fatal conflict which the native Sumatran pachyderm is certain to lose. The elephants' impending extinction is palpable across the country, but nowhere more so than in Aceh, where only 500 remain in the wild. Clashes in Aceh between elephants and humans are reportedly the highest of anywhere in the country. Wild Sumatran elephant numbers are falling across the archipelago, with current figures estimated at around 1,700, a sharp decline from the 5,000 individuals in the 1980s and 2,800 in the 1990s. At least 170 elephants were killed between 2012 and December 2017, according to the Indonesian Elephant Conservation Forum (FKGI), although the real death toll is believed to be far higher. The habitats for wild animals are decreasing rapidly, as humans and their crops and settlements expand even faster.
The worst wildfire to hit Greece in over a decade tore through a small holiday resort village near Athens on 23 July 2018, killing 102 people, injuring almost 200 others and forcing hundreds more to rush on to beaches and into the sea as the blaze devoured houses and cars. Huge, fast-moving flames, propelled by winds of up to 124km/h trapped families with children as they tried to flee from the popular seaside spot of Mati village. The coastal village was almost entirely obliterated by the blaze. More than 1,000 houses and over 300 cars were destroyed. One year after the deadly fire, Mati remains a ghost village. Many of the people who once lived or made their summer holidays have left it permanently. The remains of the houses that are still standing bear witness that once there was life in them.
Yaili, Aydili and Ceily walk down the street huddled under an umbrella. The sun is fierce and their skin is nearly translucent. Although they are covered from the neck down and have applied plenty of sunscreen, the strength of the sun's ultraviolet radiation is very intense in Panama and penetrates the fabric of their clothing. They are known affectionately in their neighborhood, inhabited mainly by members of the Guna indigenous group, as the "blonde sisters." They are not the only members of their family with this hereditary condition, which is characterized by the partial or complete absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. Experts say the rate of albinism within the Guna population is among the highest in the world, with roughly one in 150 people having that condition. Endogamy and geographical isolation are the main explanations. The Guna are natives of an archipelago of small islands in the Caribbean waters off Panama.
Experts and local residents of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in Russia say that the bowels of Yakutia contain the entire periodic table. The region’s harsh climate makes it difficult to extract many of the minerals there. But those who mine diamonds are not afraid of the harsh frost in winter and the tropical heat, with clouds of flies, midges, mosquitoes adding to the mix that can make it tough in summer. These beautiful, expensive stones are worth every effort, and that is why Yakutia is known as the land of diamonds. The city of Mirny, some 4,155 km east of Moscow, is considered the center of this land. Its history dates back to 1955, when Soviet geologists discovered what would become known as the Mir kimberlite pipe. Mirny developed near the quarry, and it was where the miners and workers lived. Nowadays it is home to over 35,000 people.
Transgender rights activist, actress, and drag queen Seyhan Arman was born in Adana, Turkey. At the age of 15, she left her family home and began working as a DJ at a local radio station. In 2000 she moved to Istanbul and became involved with the political LGBT community 'Lambda Istanbul'. At this time she took to the stage as drag queen ‘Matmazel Coco’ performing at nightclubs and entertainment events and in 2014 she began her professional acting career. In Turkey, pride week has been banned for the last four years. According to 'The Trans Murder Monitoring' report, Turkey has been ranked first in transsexual murder for the past ten years in Europe. Approximately 60 transsexuals have been killed in the last ten years in Turkey. Turkey’s Pride Week is scheduled for June 24-30, 2019 and is expected to be banned by authorities for the fifth year.
Cricket, a sport dubbed as a religion in India owing to its unmatched popularity, has once again become a national obsession with the World Cup 2019 currently underway in England, the birthplace of the Gentleman’s Game. The tournament kicked off on May 30 and will conclude on Jul.14, with India among the favorites to lift the coveted trophy. During this month-long cricket frenzy, many aficionados can be seen sporting quirky world cup hairdos and performing dedicated prayer services – officiated by priests – for their team’s victory, while many more decide to skip classes in schools and colleges or call in sick at work to watch the games. And the TV and online streaming viewership has been massive, according to Star India, which has the broadcast rights in India. Total viewership in the country is expected to surpass the previous record of more than 630 million registered during the 2015 World Cup.
The year 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, an event seen as the peak of the United States’ space program of the 1960s and which put an end to the so-called ‘Space Race’ between Cold War rivals the US and the Soviet Union. On 16 July 1969, the legendary Apollo 11 mission saw the launch of a massive Saturn V rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, sending three NASA astronauts on a 384,000-kilometer journey to the moon. Neil Armstrong made history when he stepped out of Apollo 11’s Eagle landing module on 21 July 1969, leaving the first human footprints on the Earth’s natural satellite. His colleague Buzz Aldrin joined him about 20 minutes later, while Michael Collins single-handedly piloted the Columbia command module in an orbit around the moon.
Dubbed the 'Race to Space', between the Cold War rivals the US and the Soviet Union that was triggered by the launch of the Soviet Union's 'Sputnik 1' satellite in 1957 and saw its end with US astronaut Neil Armstrong leaving the first human footprint on the Moon in 1969. The Soviet Union's 1957 launch of the Sputnik 1 satellite during the Cold War period (1947-91) between the United States and the USSR is regarded as the start of man's space exploration era, or the so-called 'Race to Space'. Radio beeps from an 80-kilogram beach ball-sized spherical device with four antennas sent waves of what would later be dubbed 'Sputnik Shock' by western scientists and politicians, after it proved to be the successful launch of the world's first artificial Earth satellite.
Look to the night sky in Singapore, and you won’t see many stars. The light pollution from artificial lights burning 24/7 across the modern city invades the dark of night. Singapore’s progress in the last fifty years has been widely documented. An unrivaled productivity central to the ethos of the small island nation has turned it into one of Asia’s key financial hubs. Office buildings stay illuminated well into the wee hours of the night and public areas and walkways are lit for the safety of pedestrians. About 110,000 street lamps line its alleys, roads, and expressways. A 2016 study by the Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute put Singapore as the most polluted nation in the world. Although fundamental to urban infrastructure, light pollution has detrimental effects on humans and the environment. Artificial lighting is known to affect the natural circadian rhythm of both
Chinese couples used to be satisfied with a single black and white photograph taken on their wedding as a memento of their special day. But times have changed dramatically, and the wedding photographs, especially pre-wedding photo sessions, have become big business in China. In the main touristic spots in different cities across China, it is easy to see couples having their pre-wedding pictures shoots, which becomes the must-have for every Chinese couple before their marriage. Unlike Western weddings, where usually couples have their photos taken on the wedding day, for the Chinese it is quite popular to have their day-long photo sessions way before their actual weddings. Sometimes it can be half a year or even a year in advance of the ceremony.
A group of 26 Venezuelan children with cancer and other diseases need bone marrow transplants to save their lives. They have barely had time to learn what living means, yet death is so close. A few weeks ago, there were 30 of them, but four have passed away since. Their mothers seek a miracle in a country where getting antihistamines, vaccines and antibiotics is hard. Finding a donor is almost impossible, but these mothers are not giving up. The youngest is four and the eldest 17. The illnesses and poverty that mark their lives have united their mothers in their fight to save them. They show strength in front of the camera, but cry silently while recalling the critical moments in which they have witnessed their children worsen due to complications.
Every week, hundreds of migrants arrive on small boats to Penita, a small indigenous village in the Darien Gap on the Panamanian side of the border with Colombia, as they make their way along a perilous route towards North America. The waters are unsettled at times because of the heavy rain typical of this time of the year, but that does not deter the men, women and children migrating from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, for whom Penita becomes their temporary home and the Chucunaque river a place to bathe and do the laundry. According to National Border Service (Senafront), over 11,100 migrants have crossed into Panama so far in 2019. Migration has transformed Penita into a hub of activity, with food and goods being transported along the river, and street vendors popping up to sell clothes, shoes, diapers, SIM cards and even wireless routers.
The annual silkworm breeding season in Turkey starts in April and begins with a 45-day cocoon stage. The larvae that are kept in disinfected rooms between 20-28 degrees Celsius hatch in six days and feed on mulberry leaves. Seventy percent of a larva's weight consists of silk material. After four sleep phases the larvae grow and after 45 days they turn into cocoons. The cocoons are then boiled with water and ashes to enable the silk thread to decompose. The silk obtained from the cocoons is woven after a coloring process. The cultivation of silkworms, which was extensively done in southern Hatay province in the 1950s, has decreased gradually over the years. Only a few family businesses continue to work using traditional methods.
Somewhere in every big Asian city, there is a green pocket, patch or park serving as a vital green lung amid a body of concrete. These urban greens are where people can relax and breathe fresher air in cooler temperatures, away from the heat accumulated by the city. They are the green venues that encourage and allow community get-togethers, as they showcase the nature. As growing city populations are squeezed into smaller high-rise apartments without gardens, they lose touch with nature and there are fewer places outdoors for children to play and older people to relax. These greens amid the greys, allow it. The urban greens offer small lungs of fresh air. But they are far too few. Air pollution and the goal of improving air quality in cities across the world underpin the theme of World Environment Day 2019.
In Iskenderun, Turkey, Berfin Ozek was ambushed by her ex-boyfriend who allegedly threw sulfuric acid in her face as she returned home after studying in January. 'I didn't deserve this, this is not my face. This is the face of the disgrace of our society,' she said. The acid melted her skin and caused her to lose the sight in one eye and partially blinding the other. Shortly after the attack, the Women of Iskenderun social platform launched a solidarity campaign to help raise funds. Its actions reached the Turkish Parliament where the government said it would cover the costs of the medical treatment. Ozek hopes to recover some of her former appearance and is about to begin surgical treatment that will last a year and a half, and see her undergo at least five operations. While acid attacks are not common in Turkey this case has spurred great controversy in Turkish society which has
Despite its small size, Greece has one of the largest coastlines in the world thanks to its islands. The Mediterranean country comprises about 6,000 islands and islets that are scattered throughout the Aegean and Ionian seas. The remoteness of the islands affects everyday life, especially during the winter months, with few young doctors and teachers available. Thus, islanders' access to hospitals and experienced medical staff becomes virtually impossible. The National Primary Care Program is a five-year project that aims to provide complete medical care and support services to people living in remote areas across Greece, something that the National Health System is unable to provide.
In February 2019 and all Fridays since, Algerians have been coming out to protest. At first, they were asking Bouteflika to renounce his candidacy for a fifth term, but it grew into demanding a change in the whole regime and a new Constitution that would allow fresh figures to emerge who could fix an economy that has led to 30 percent youth unemployment. Young men with no regular employment spend their time hanging around the streets of Algiers, doing small jobs for pocket money. They all have demands to fulfill, so they joined the rallies. Algeria’s youth did not experience the War of Independence, the 1988 revolt nor the civil war. But they saw the fears their parents harbored over an uncertain future; few job prospects and a surge in emigration in search of a better future.
Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake is among the world's most famous classical ballets and is also the most frequently performed. The new Czech National Ballet’s production is based on the version created by world-renowned choreographer and founder of Germany’s Stuttgarter Ballett, John Cranko. The Czech National Ballet is the first big company to have been granted approval to stage the piece outside of Germany. The Czech National Ballet, the biggest dance company in the Czech Republic, was founded in 1883. Filip Barankiewicz is its current artistic director. This production's dancers started rehearsing on 01 February 2019 and the show premiered on 28 March 2019 at the Czech National Theater in Prague.
"Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another." The late Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress brought an end to the minority rule of white South Africans over the majority community of black people 25 years ago thus ending one of the most unjust systems of racial repression in history: apartheid. For the first time ever black people were allowed to vote and decide their own destiny. The first free and fair elections in 1994 marked a huge shift in consciousness for the country and the beginning of what millions hoped would be a dream of a multiracial "Rainbow Nation." The stark reality is at present very different. Rampant corruption by former President Jacob Zuma along with leading ANC politicians and businessmen, 33% unemployment and racial tensions are but a fraction of the
After 30 years of reign, Emperor Akihito is to abdicate on 30 April and his son, Crown Prince Naruhito will officially access to the throne on 01 May 2019. The 85-year-old emperor is the first to resign in about two centuries after he ascended the throne on 07 January 1989, following the death of his father Emperor Hirohito. Over the 30 years of Akihito’s reign in the era named ‘Heisei’, Japan was struck by numerous natural disasters and the Imperial couple have been a support to the people affected. The new era ‘Reiwa’ will start on 01 May with the enthronement of Crown Prince Naruhito.
Flanking Beijing's Tiananmen Square, the Great Hall of the People, China's seat of government and center of state power, is one of the country's most iconic sites. There are diverging opinions about its Soviet-style architecture: for some, it is an intimidating and monolithic building representing China’s immense bureaucracy, while for others it symbolizes ethnic equality and national unity. It is used for many important political events, such as state funerals and memorial services for top-ranking leaders, and ceremonial activities by the government and the ruling Communist Party. Although tourists can visit certain parts and halls, for millions of people, this huge building remains a mystery. Local and foreign journalists cover dozens of important events at the Hall, but even their movements within the vast building are closely monitored and tightly controlled by security officers and People's Liberation Army soldiers.
On maps of Ireland, a line cuts across the north of the island like a scar, dividing Northern Ireland from the larger Republic of Ireland. That line is both physical and symbolic, signaling the geographic separation of two countries as well as their historical, social and religious differences. After 29 March 2019, the thin line could well separate the United Kingdom and the European Union. The reality of the Irish border is complex. Today, it is no longer a ‘hard’ border, though crossings are littered with rusting customs posts from another time. Often a change in road markings or the color of the tarmac are the only indicators that you have crossed into another country. It is possible to drive along a road and cross the border two or three times without even knowing it. The border was established by the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921.
Fisherman Samwu Ndaye is a volunteer who every morning combs the beach of Ngor, Senegal, to clean up the waste plastic that builds up there. Single-use plastic products of every kind litter the villages along Senegal's coastline along with other waste that gets washed up at different spots throughout the year, depending on the prevailing winds and ocean currents. As the world’s population grows, so too does the amount of waste that is generated, leading to a vast environmental problem on a global scale which waste management is just beginning to have an impact on. However, in low and middle-income countries, like Senegal, this process is all too often underfunded or simply neglected. Systematic municipal waste collection and disposal is lacking in many areas, so residents deal with garbage in their own way, by burning or dumping it along the shorelines.
The UK is scheduled to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019 - two years after Prime Minister Theresa May invoked Article 50, notifying the EU of her country's intention to abandon the member's club after the tightly-contested 2016 referendum. The results of that referendum exposed a divided nation. It was still unclear on what terms the UK would leave the EU, with lawmakers having rejected Prime Minister May's initial deal hammered out with the EU, the fruit of years of negotiations. There was also talk of extending the deadline, which would delay Brexit, as well as the floating of a second referendum. Citizens and industries across the UK, including the banking, tourism and farming sectors, and many of whom rely on exporting products or bringing in goods from Europe, will have to adapt in a post-Brexit Britain, whether there is a deal with the EU or not.
Considered the most important event for Tibetan Buddhists, the Monlam Great Prayer Festival starts three days after Lunar New Year in western China's ethnic Tibetan region and is held for almost two weeks. During Monlam, millions of pilgrims head to monasteries to pray for good fortune in the New Year and make offerings to their late relatives. One of the most popular destinations among pilgrims is Labrang Monastery in Xiahe County, China. The monastery founded in 1709 is one of the six largest monasteries of the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism and home to thousands of monks outside the Tibet Autonomous Region. Although the Chinese Communist Party is atheist, it recognizes five religions, with one of these Buddhism, as well as many folk beliefs. Most ethnic Tibetans practice a distinct form of Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism.
On the left bank of Belgrade's Sava river lies Novi Beograd, a complex of brutalist buildings that are both a celebration of functional no-nonsense architecture and a symbol of the new post-monarchic Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia that was founded in 1945. The planned municipality, for which building works started in 1948, was devised at a time when the sprawling city of Belgrade was undergoing a deep socio-political shift. Novi Beograd was designed to be the main administrative center for the new government, with buildings for the Communist Party headquarters and the Presidency of the government serving as the hub of a functional grid plan with streets meeting on right angles. However, Brutalism is now enjoying renewed interest as more and more people have begun to embrace its practical philosophy and, from an aesthetic perspective, its attractive geometric shapes rendering an almost graphic quality to many of these buildings.
Nestled in downtown Tel Aviv stands a modernist architectural gem known as the White City: one of the largest concentrations of buildings created in the renowned 1930s Bauhaus style. German architect Walter Gropius founded the Staatliche Bauhaus school of art, architecture and design in Weimar in 1919, from where the emblematic architectural movement known as the International Style was developed. The rise of the Nazi Regime in 1933 forced the school to close, leading many graduates of the art school to emigrate from Europe. Among the Bauhaus graduates were several Jewish architects including Arieh Sharon, Shmuel Mestechkin, Munio Gitai-Weinraub and Shlomo Bernstein who moved to Palestine and helped the Jewish community to shape and build the future state of Israel.
In a new age of exploration in Antarctica, Chile's Armed Forces are playing a vital role in making it possible for scientists to carry out their research on the world's southernmost continent. Antarctica is vast, almost twice the size of Australia, and only a select number of persons ever get to set foot on this continent. While it does not have any indigenous inhabitants, its population varies between 1,000 people in winter and 5,000 in summer. Most are researchers and station personnel spread across the 66 bases scattered along its coasts. The golden days of Antarctic exploration of the past century saw the likes of Norway's Roald Amundsen and Briton Robert Falcon Scott. Today's expeditions see teams of scientists and soldiers embark on new adventures on the White Continent with more technology at their disposal than ever before.
The streets of Venezuela's capital Caracas are filled with homeless children. Children who run, laugh, search for food among the trash and swim in polluted rivers. And children who abuse drugs that allow them some respite from the harsh realities of living rough. These neglected minors represent one of the many faces of the severe economic and social crisis ravaging the oil-rich South American country. Over the span of two months, efe-epa photojournalist Miguel Gutierrez documented the day-to-day lives of these children, presented here in a four-part photo essay: 1: Portrait Series, 2: Life on the Streets, 3: Liliana (17) Gives Birth to Baby Boy, 4: Homes for Abandoned Children. The children mostly live in public spaces in Caracas, where, apart from begging, they have set up an elaborate system to survive.