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Posts by: Sukruti Anah Staneley

The Rohingya Crisis: Beyond the Numbers

“We are citizens of Burma. Aung Sung Suu Kyi can save our citizenships and keep us in our land but she gave power to the hands of the Army Chief Min Aung Hlaing, and in doing so gave him the power to kill us. When the military find us in the open, they shoot brush (indiscriminate) fire at us, old people, children, women, everyone gets hit by the bullets. They raped them. They raped the women. They burnt our villages to the ground. The villages are gone. We are Rohingya, our home is Arakan. We will only go back if they (the Burmese government) can accept us as Rohingya.” – Noor, 32

“A while back the Burmese government gave us assurance that they will give us citizenship rights, but they lied. We demanded that the citizenship rights should be granted to our Rohingya identity but they denied it and they tortured us cruelly for it. We cannot have our Rohingya identity in Burma, but others outside accept us as Rohingya. Burma has always been our home. And now as we ask for the right to our identity again, the government launches attacks on us again. They burn our villages, they force us to leave our land, even Aung Sun Suu Kyi does not accept us our rights despite supporting her in previous years.” – Nur, 72

“The Burmese military burnt my house down and then told me that Burma is not my country. They told me to get out of their land, but I don’t know anywhere else that is home. Now me and my family don’t know where else we can go.”

Over half a million Rohingya men, women and children have fled their homes in Rakhine, Myanmar, since August this year. They have poured into Bangladesh in large numbers, numbers that have dominated every news report since then. Tens of thousands, half a million, hundred thousands – all words that gradually grow abstract with each new statistic detailed. The Rohingya, as we refer to them, are a group of people, that comprise of individuals, each with their own real story of loss, fear, violence, persecution and discrimination. It maybe impossible to hear all these stories, but one photographer decided to attempt to document their voices, their words, and not just the portrait of a people in a major crisis, or a major humanitarian emergency, in the words of a UNHCR statement. While it is crucial to understand the scale of this horror, it is equally important to go deeper and hear their voices.

Daily Life of a Luk Thep Doll in Thailand

Petch is Thailand’s first known Luk Thep doll – a plastic doll manufactured in the way any doll might be. The only difference being that the doll has a living soul, believed to change people’s lives; in Mama Ning’s case, it was the spirit of her son. One of the earliest mentions of the Luk Thep dolls can be found in a 2015 article on Coconuts.co – an online magazine that publishes a fascinating array of stories from South-east Asia. In an interview with Mananya ‘Mama Ning’ Boonmee, the writer introduces us to the very first Luk Thep doll, created in west Bangkok.

Photographer Tells Stories of Women Across Rural India

Japiyammal, 34, sells dry fish to make a living for her family. She also received a notice to vacate her home. After 50 years, the government suddenly seems to have woken up from its deep slumber and recognized the tourism potential in Dhanushkodi.

The fishing community here relies on traditional methods of reading the winds, stars and direction of waves. Without any formal training on modern techniques of fishing and unavailability of any GPS or Wireless devices, it is very hard for Japiyammal and other fishing community, to leave their land and learn the new ways of fishing elsewhere.

Initially, I thought Bharti, 13, was accompanying her parents to the fields since they did not want to leave her behind at home. But to my surprise, Bharti joined the work along with other adults on the salt plant. I saw her lifting the heavy pans full of salt, way too heavy for her thin arms. Her repeated movements of lifting salt and filling the tractors were fast but painful. It’s not just Bharti; there are scores of children waiting endlessly for an opportunity to lead a healthy life beyond these salt pans.

Deepti Asthana is a self-taught photographer living in Mumbai, India. She was born and raised in a north-Indian city called Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, where she grew up in challenging circumstances. Asthana graduated with a degree in engineering from Tamil Nadu and spent some time working in Mumbai and Delhi; all this while she knew she wanted more out of life. In 2011 she was sent to London for a project from her organisation and met a landscape  photographer there. This meeting helped her discover a talent and passion for telling women’s stories through photography, which led Asthana to begin her project titled Women of India, in 2016. Her journey since then has brought the two Indias closer through her work and continues to shape her perspective of travelling alone through rural India.

Moments from Everyday Life at a School For The Blind in Calcutta

For his on-going photo project, The Sixth Sense, Calcutta-based photographer Sutirtha Chatterjee captures moments from the everyday lives of blind children at a school.

In India, almost three million people develop cataract each year, half the cases are curable, but are often left unattended and this leads to complete or partial blindness. There is also a major shortage of donated eyes in India owing to religious prejudices. Some believe that organ donations lead to deformities in the next birth. Any efforts to encourage eye donations must combat such superstitions and practices.

Revealing the Hearts and Minds of 14-Year-Old Girls Living in Brussels, Palestine and Congo

Through her project, I AM 14, that materialised over three years and across three countries, Bénédicte Vanderreydt invites us into the lives of three 14-year-old girls. Fascinated by what transpires about adolescence through their compulsive picture-making for social media, Vanderreydt sets out to investigate what she sees as “a complex set of mirrors in which we no longer know who is looking and who is being looked at.”

‘A Thousand Polluted Gardens’ in the Heart of Bangladesh’s Capital

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In the heart of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, lies the infamous city of Hazaribagh, a densely populated and deeply polluted land. Lying on the eastern banks of the Buriganga river, Hazaribagh floods its waterways with approximately 22,000 cubic meters of hazardous waste, including the carcinogen – hexavalent chromium, every day. Spread across these 25 acres is Bangladesh’s one billion dollar leather industry, dotted with over 200 leather tanneries, each respectively contributing pollutants to its increasingly lethal layers of air, soil and water.

Indian Photographer Captures Rituals Devoted to the Goddess Sitala

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The teachings of total dependency on Gods are incorporated from the very early stages of childhood. But they are more prone to make someone God-fearing rather than God-loving.

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In another one of those superstitious rituals, a mother is told to walk over her child lying in a pool of water on the bare road to bring well being to the child.

For centuries now, Goddess Sitala is worshipped across India and believed to cure fever and such, she is also referred to as the Smallpox Goddess. She is said to have emerged in medical texts around the sixteenth century. The Kolkata-based photographer, Arka Dutta, however, sees through this deity, her followers and their rituals.

Intimacy and Youth Captured Beautifully in the Blue Ridge Mountains

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Alec Castillo began making photographs here – nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, the peaks often appearing in his grainy, black and white photographs. This was a time that Castillo termed as a ‘weird transitional phase’ of making new friends and rummaging about for an identity that fit. This is when he looked through the viewfinder to reflect, and inherently construct an identity. He introduces us to individuals – new friends among old ones – in a manner that moves beyond portraiture, traversing personal identity in the larger context of social groups.

This Mother with Muscular Dystrophy Loves Her Life

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For Camilla Nielsen, the choice of motherhood was an extraordinary risk. Over thirty-three years now, Camilla has been living a doughty life with muscular dystrophy, and she loves this life. This incurable condition progressively weakens her musculoskeletal system and the pregnancy has further deteriorated her state, as well as risking the transmission of genes. But surrounded by her caring boyfriend Jesper and three young children, Camilla has a luminous spirit carrying her from one day to the next.

Making a 44-Day Journey Along the Ganges River, a Photographer Pays Tribute to a Hindu Goddess

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Stretching across about 1557 miles, from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, the river Ganges is considered to carry holy waters across northern India and parts of Bangladesh. The river Ganges, personified in Hindu mythology as Goddess Ganga, originates in a small town called Gangotri in Uttrakhand, situated in northern India. As the Gangotri Glacier melts slowly, its icy waters flow through green hills, half-naked pilgrims and agricultural land, contaminating everything in its way.

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