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from Photographers' Blog:

A widow’s refuge offers solace to the sorrowful

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Vrindavan, India

By Adnan Abidi

The sound of applause echoing in the dingy shelter forced a smile on the face of Tulshi Dasi. An expression she had almost forgotten since her world turned white. The reason: she could now write and had just finished writing the English alphabet on a blackboard. And all this at the age of 70! She had never felt this empowered and never knew that learning was so much fun. As Dasi wrote a new chapter in her life in the grimy shelter in Vrindavan, that she shares with many women like her, her companions, around 50 odd widows applauded her progress.

GALLERY: WIDOW REFUGE

Widows, either abandoned by their family members or shunned by society, find their life's last refuge in various government run shelters such as this one. They come here from all across the country, but mostly from Bengal, where they survive by begging and chanting hymns in temples.

Hindu widows are branded as inauspicious by society and are forbidden to wear any form of color or be a part of any kind of celebrations like marriage and childbirth, hence most find respite amid their own kind, and seek solace in sorrow. As I spent my day with them I realized that learning was the best part of their day. Each of them would get up early, bathe and offer prayers together in the hall before resuming their daily chores of making prayer beads and flower garlands.

While shooting I tried to strike up a conversation with some of them, to get the best possible moment or an expression to make a good picture, but for most of them Hindi, a prominent North Indian language, was quite alien as most spoke and understood Bengali. Some did smile at being photographed but seemed evidently forced, as after a moment's smile their face resumed the monotonous expression that seems to have stayed on since they were widowed.

from Photographers' Blog:

A mother’s sacrifice

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By Bobby Yip and Cheryl Ravelo

DATELINE: HONG KONG

Like most of the domestic helpers from the Philippines, Imelda “Susan” Famadula smiles a lot. She has been working in Hong Kong for 15 years, waking early in the morning, dropping the kids off at school, going to the market, bringing the kids back, all along taking care of various household tasks which last until midnight, and for six days a week.

Imelda loves Sunday. She can meet friends in the city’s financial Central district, where bankers and office workers make way for domestic helpers. Imelda also goes to church, but most importantly, she is free to meet her family – via the Internet.

from Photographers' Blog:

The hunt for treasure

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By Mariana Bazo

On my numerous trips around the outskirts of Lima I’ve long been struck by the sight of elderly women combing garbage dumps and lugging huge bags filled with recyclable items. I’ve photographed several of them and while talking to them I always get the same story – they pick up bottles, paper and cans they can sell later, and that little money allows them to survive. Some of the women are abandoned and have no relatives, but others prefer to live on their own means rather than depending on handouts. It’s common to hear them say that this is the only job they can get at their age. I often notice a certain glimpse of happiness when they talk about their hard-earned independence.

Peru’s national statistics bureau has published figures that older adults who don’t have retirement plans are forced to develop strategies for survival, to avoid being economically dependent and socially vulnerable, and these garbage pickers fit exactly that description. Many poor elderly women are excluded from social services and have never been in the formal workplace. Many are Andean migrants without the same education opportunities as men, to the extent where many are illiterate.

from Photographers' Blog:

Strength born of calamity

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By Swoan Parker

Everything was in its place. Knick-knacks of varying shapes perfectly lined the dresser as the dearly loved treasures from a literally broken home.  Aline Deispeines’ concrete home was destroyed in the devastating earthquake that rocked Haiti on January 12, 2010.  Her new home, spotlessly kept, was a tent. Her life, like that of so many who survived the calamity, was changed forever.  She, like so many other Haitians, had lost her home, her loved ones, her business, and all feeling of security for her future.


I came to know Aline, 44 and a single mother to daughter Tina, 13, and adopted daughter Herby, 24, after hearing about OFEDA, the Organization of Dedicated Women in Action.  OFEDA is a grassroots organization of women in support of women. It is run by Aline, who against incredible odds formed the group just weeks after the quake. OFEDA, I would later learn, is a symbol of strength, hope and endurance.

from Photographers' Blog:

Privileged witness to the start of life

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By Vivek Prakash

It's an experience I will never forget. I have no children of my own, but when the day does come, maybe I'll be just a little bit more prepared for it.

I had come a long, long way from my usual cosmopolitan stomping ground of Mumbai, to a place just about as far interior as you can go in India. I was about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Rajasthan border in the state of Madhya Pradesh, in a village of about 700 people. This is very, very small by Indian standards. There were dusty roads that a car could barely fit down, mud houses, a scorching heat during the day which turned to a deep chill at night.

from Photographers' Blog:

Kazakhstan’s lone female eagle hunter

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By Shamil Zhumatov

Ahead of International Women's Day, Reuters decided to prepare a feature story about an unusual woman. We filmed Makpal Abdrazakova, apparently the only female golden eagle hunter in Kazakhstan. I've known Makpal for many years through a variety of hunting competitions. I called her home in the village of Aksu-Ayuly, central Kazakhstan, and we quickly agreed to a photo shoot within the next few days, as she had to leave to participate in a regional festival in the south of the country.

A heavy snowstorm blanketed our path. Kazakh authorities often shut down inter-city roads during harsh weather, as on this occasion. Our time frame was shrinking. As soon as the travel ban was lifted, we hit the road. After a quick night drive across Almaty, we turned north. The GPS kindly announced: “Keep driving for the next 500 kilometers (311 miles).” This made us laugh. We had to drive a total of 870 kilometers (540 miles) and were hoping to make it in about 10 hours. We finally did.

from Our Take on Your Take:

Reflecting on women’s day

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ywflowers

Monday March 8th marked International Women's Day and celebrations took place around the world. In Romania, this policeman handed out flowers to women drivers. Your View contributor Sebastian Sascau framed his picture perfectly to show the driver in the rear view mirror. His subtle use of focus leads the eye around the frame until it settles on the subject, the woman driver.

View this week's Your View slideshow here.

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