Walking the holy river

First published by Nepali Times
One man’s journey to trace the 160 or so traditional bathing places along the now-polluted river

Photo GOPEN RAI

When American researcher William Forbes recently surveyed some of the temples and ghats along the Bagmati River to see if they survived the earthquake, he was greeted with much enthusiasm at a small tirtha just north of Pashupatinath called Hatyamochan.

The smiling face was of social worker Rohit Limbu, who has made it his personal mission to preserve the temple. Limbu led restoration of an old well which is now being used as a sacred bathing spot for women during Rishi Panchami. “I dreamt about you the other night,” Limbu told Forbes. “You were one of the few people who believed in my dream, and look what happened.” Continue reading

War is the crime

First published by Nepali Times

Photographer Stephen Champion goes from covering war between men to war on nature

Photo Willemijn Van Kol

Where to go after the war is over? Many photographers and reporters are confronted with this question after documenting violent conflicts. For Sri Lanka-based British photographer Stephen Champion (above) the answer was obvious: to nature. Or more precisely, to the war being waged on nature in the island.

Stephen Champion was only 25 when he witnessed a man being torn to pieces by a bomb. He did not do what was expected of him: focus his camera and shoot. He crouched down and wept. Continue reading

Healing together

First published by Nepali Times
Religious organisations show solidarity with earthquake survivors
Lucia De Vries in RASUWA

HELPING TOGETHER: IRW officer Bilal Agmad Zargar (left) and LWF officer Chenyen Nekor (right), together with a volunteer hand over construction materials to Nirmala BK in Kalikasthan of Rasuwa.

A Muslim relief agency joining hands with a Christian organisation to help Buddhist earthquake survivors in a largely Hindu country may sound implausible but that is exactly what happened in Rasuwa earlier this month. Continue reading

Born to be free

First published by Nepali Times

Instead of riding them to observe wildlife, elephants themselves are now tourist attractions 
Lucia De Vries in CHITWAN

Photo Lena Quenard

Saraswati Kali enjoys her daily bath in the river.

Raj Kali is 42, and walks surprisingly fast and light-footedly along a forest track in the Amaltari buffer zone of Chitwan National Park. Her trunk sways as if it has a life of its own: Sniffing out edible greens, snapping the branches of acacia, and slipping it into her mouth while on the move. Her friend, Dibya Kali is 46, and follows close behind. Visitors are guided by naturalist Shambhu Mahato on a jungle walk to observe the rhinos wallowing in a muddy pool by the river. Continue reading

Brick by brick

First published by Nepali Times

How Sanogaun’s women are rebuilding better quake-resistant homes
Lucia De Vries

Pics: Paul Jeffrey

Sanogaun, a small Newar settlement on the southern fringes of Kathmandu was flattened by the earthquake last year. Now, the community is using an innovative technology to rebuild all its 49 homes so they are cheaper and resistant to future quakes.

The interlocking brick technique developed by Nepali inventor Gyanendra R Sthapit at the Habitech Center of the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand combines the strengths of rammed earth and compressed blocks. It has been used in post-tsunami reconstruction in Thailand in 2008 and after Cyclone Nargis ravaged Burma in 2010 to build more than 1,000 homes, schools, and health clinics. In Bhutan, over 100 quake-proof houses and schools have been built using the technology. Continue reading

The belly of the beast

First publishd by The Kathmandu Post

The recent decision to phase out slaughter places in the Valley will not change the way animals are killed inhumanely across the countryThe belly of the beast