Thirty miles north of Myitkyna, in Myanmar's northern Kachin State, three illegal gold miners stand knee-deep in mud, standing in the middle of a mine that was closed, with what they say was no warning, earlier in the month. The men dig through stones, lay down green floor mats and sift through sand that lies sparkling in the Sun, the promise of gold in its glimmer.
Using their bare hands and a single garden hoe, the three men don’t stop working, even when asked questions about their lives and safety.
“So you know that it’s poisonous and potentially killing you slowly, but you use and directly handle it anyways?” they’re asked.
The miners let out a dry laugh, still moving stones and hauling red heaps of mud as they answer the question.
“Of course we do. But what choice are we given?”
Photographed and written for Frontier Myanmar, this story investigated the dangerous levels of mercury present in the waterways of Myanmar.
Based in Washington, D.C. the OUT Women's Motorcycle Club is a LGBTQ motorcycle group that focuses on empowerment, education and community outreach.
Just a few hours ride from Mandalay, tucked away on a dusty small road in Monywa is a school providing revolutionary training and schooling for the physically and mentally disabled citizens of Myanmar—changing their lives one class lesson and vocational skill at a time.
Opened in December 2015, the school was created as a joint project between the Japanese Association for Aid and Relief (AAR), an international nongovernment organization founded in Japan that has been present in Myanmar since 1999, and a blind monk who donated the land, is one of the first of it’s kind in Myanmar, providing school lessons, vocational training and housing opportunities for those in need.
“In past years there was no independent training schools for disabled persons,” said Ayah Tet, 25, the chairman of the school who was born with spinal deformities. “So we planned to found a independent training school for the disabled. And here we are.”
In 1890, Sir Thomas Lipton arrived on the island of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, to purchase a plot of land that would become the first tea estate in his global tea empire. These days, in the Ambadandegama Valley located just a few miles from Lipton's original estate, another experiment in tea production is unfolding.
Tucked into the side of a precipitous mountain, Amba Estate is a tea operation that shares 10 percent of its revenues with its workers. That's a novel approach here in Sri Lanka, a country that's one of the world's largest exporters of tea — an industry that employs more than 1 million of its 22 million residents.
View the entire story here on NPR.
Born with retinitis pigmentosa, an inheritable disease that slowly causes a loss of vision, Htun is legally blind, relying on his hearing, a walking stick and the help of strangers passing by to get from place to place.
According to the National Census Data, Htun is one of an estimated 2.3 million people living with disabilities in Myanmar, where disabled persons often face issues such as unsuitable national infrastructure, challenges on a family and economic level, as well as poorly constructed national laws.
Photographed for The Washington Post and written by Jessica Contrera, this story explored "13, right now".
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Photographed for The Washington Post, Harrison Smith's story highlighted the creation of Anacostia's Ketcham Elementary building their new outdoor learning garden.
From secret meetings in rural town to flashy Facebook profiles and YouTube videos, the illegal sport of cockfighting is alive and flourishing in Myanmar.
Photographed and written for Frontier Myanmar, this story took me to Myanmar's southern Mon State. A full copy of the story can be found here.
Samuel “Sammy” Samuels sits in the furthest seat in the back of the empty building, sounds of the Muslim adhan and Buddhist chants bursting through speakers down the block and drifting into the building, echoing through the empty main hall.
“I feel more Jewish in Yangon than I did living in New York,” Samuels explains. “There every Friday I went to synagogue, but every synagogue was full. If I didn’t go to synagogue no one would care. But here if I don’t go then… who is going to open the gate?”
The gate that Samuels referred to is what separates the last synagogue, consecrated in 1896 and once the epicenter of Myanmar’s thriving Jewish community, from Yangon’s bustling downtown.
“We’re a very small community,” Samuels says, “But we’re here.”
Roy and Arti Caspari migrated to the United States from Indonesia, bringing their green thumbs with them. The couple now has an urban garden in College Park, Maryland which sustains the family food truck business.
Originally photographed and written for Edible DC.
Snapshots from Myanmar.