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Laxmi’s Getting Back on Her Feet

It is early morning on the outskirts of Gorkha Bajar, headquarters of Gorkha district and the epicentre of the April 2015 earthquake that rocked Nepal. Laxmi Biswokarma, 39, is walking towards her house with a small load of firewood on her back. Every few metres she stops to rest despite the fact that “this load is not heavy”. Laxmi has a bad back so she takes her time to do things, but she is grateful that after the devastating earthquake in which her home and livelihood got destroyed at least she has been able to get back on her feet. With support from a women’s centre that came up to help women in the aftermath of the devastating quake she’s been able to overcome crippling physical and mental trauma and “get back on my feet”.

“She was renting a cheap room on the outskirts of town; she didn’t have food, or medicine… she didn’t even have anyone to give her water when she was thirsty.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: NEPQ109 700 words

A Feminist Rooting For Peace
Elayne Clift

‘On the surface, we live in harmony,’ says Jordan’s foremost feminist scholar and activist Rula Quawas. ‘You feel there’s a space for you. But with the advent of ISIS, I started feeling what was going on in Iraq, Syria and Yemen with women. Now I no longer feel so free to resist oppression. It’s become a problem we need to deal with.’ Jordan is where the refugees have been heading to start life afresh but of late things are not looking too good there as well. There is an increasing divide among the liberals and conservatives as well as ‘a growing sense of oppression through indoctrination posing as education’. In a world that is dangerously fractured on religious and ethnic lines attempts to foster dialogue, to build healthy, effective coalitions, and to collaborate with non-governmental organisations in developing educational materials that avoid religious and cultural dichotomies is the only way forward.

“We shared information, we spoke up, we disagreed, we held a candlelight vigil when the writer was killed. We recognised that we need to support each other and to be supported.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: QQQP110 880 words

From the Diary of a Happy Traveller
Book Excerpt

Wine-tasting in France; the serenity of the Buddha in Bagan in Myanmar; the leafy green streets of Zamalek in Egypt; the surreal and fantastical landscape of Cappadocia in Turkey; cream teas and cakes in Betty’s tearoom in York, England… Author-publisher Ritu Menon’s latest book, ‘Loitering With Intent’, published by Speaking Tiger, brings to life the magic of exotic places and experiences for the armchair traveller. An excerpt offering glimpses of delightful Sicily, which “must be the sweets capital of the world”.

‘Marzipan. Chocolate. Candied fruit. Buttermilk curd. Light-as-air pastries. Mouth-watering biscuits twisted around fig, cinnamon and clove confit. It was all those nuns servicing all those priests and churches who exalted pastry-making to a fine art.’

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDQ112 1200 words

Giving Kids A Fighting Chance
Swapna Majumdar

Laxmi Devi was attending to the children at the anganwadi centre when she received a frantic phone call. It was from a woman from her village who had taken her critically ill three-day baby to the sick newborn care unit (SNCU) in Lalitpur district, Uttar Pradesh. When the 35-year-old anganwadi worker heard that the young mother had been turned away, she immediately set off to help her. On reaching there, she confronted the staff and ensured the baby was admitted. Thanks to Laxmi’s intervention, the child celebrated her eighth birthday a couple of months ago. But not all neonates are so lucky. Over 700,000 of India’s newborns continue to die within 28 days of their birth every year. In UP, the neonatal mortality rate (NMR) is at 49 for 1000 live births, way above the national NMR of 29. Of course, there are committed frontline health-workers and community role models to give these children a fighting chance. But there’s another way through which better plans and interventions can be planned out. Find out more.

“The mother who was turned away was from the marginalised Sahariya tribe. She didn’t have any money to bribe the staff. I shouted at them and said we would not leave until the baby was admitted.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDQ104 1050 words

Learn About The Trees, Birds And Bees From Kusum-tai
Surekha Kadapa Bose

Kusum Dahivalkar’s life has been all about the forest, the flora and fauna. A retired plantation officer in the Social Forestry Department in Nashik, Maharashtra, she has made it her mission to inspire people to save and plant trees, and live as close to nature as possible. Seated in her home in the Pathardi neighborhood she admits laughingly that during her stint with the Social Forestry Department, she took advantage of the indifference of her colleagues to attend workshops, lecture series, conferences across the country to get to know as much as she could about plants and their healing properties – “they thought I was insane to do this”. Today, with her savings she has built a facility on half an acre of land where she’s created an extensive nursery – some 2,000 plus varieties of saplings of medicinal plants and herbs are grown here – and a space for holding workshops on cultivation. Sixty plus and going strong, Kusum-tai is committed to “sharing my knowledge with people so that somehow we all could make a difference to our planet”.

“The indigenous plants last for decades, sometimes even centuries. Their seeds need a minimum of six to 18 months to germinate and then take years to stand tall and mature, in the process building an ecosystem suitable for birds, animals and insects.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDQ105 1150 words
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