A unique conservation attempt is underway in Nepal to save vultures that have nearly been decimated through much of South Asia over the past few decades.
For three nights, Tulasi Shahi slept in the cowshed underneath her home in Nepal’s western Dailekh district because she was on her period. In western Nepal, many families believe it is a sin for menstruating women to sleep inside the home and could bring bad luck.
On her third night in the shed — last Wednesday — a snake entered, so on Thursday night the 18-year-old moved to the cowshed at her uncle’s house, according to Anita Gyawali, the women’s development officer in the district. That night, a snake breached the uncle’s shed, this time biting Shahi on the hand.
Shahi’s family brought her to a Hindu shaman, who performed rituals from 10 p.m. til 6 the next morning before declaring she needed a doctor.
Two years ago, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake destroyed Sita Kumal’s house in Nepal’s Gorkha district — 65 miles from the capital Kathmandu and the area hardest hit by the disaster. Kumal, 27, was already struggling to pay her two sons’ tuition fees, and a $7,000 loan for her disabled husband’s medical care, so there was no money to rebuild. She had heard from other villagers that she could make good money working in the United Arab Emirates or Malaysia, where her brother worked. So last April, she accepted the offer of a local agent to find her a job as a housemaid in Dubai, where she’d earn around $290 a month.
But Kumal’s journey took her instead to Saudi Arabia — by way of India, Sri Lanka and Kuwait. She says she endured months of physical abuse at the hands of her employers, who often denied her food and withheld her salary. “They would not allow me to return,” she tells TIME. “They had bought me from an agent.”
Mira Rai is perched on the edge of a couch in Kathmandu in a bright yellow Salomon windbreaker and track pants. The 29-year-old is recovering from knee surgery but looks as if she needs to jump off the couch and burn energy on a mountain trail.
Trail running is, in fact, what the Nepali athlete is known for — along with her unlikely journey from school dropout in a remote Nepali village to Maoist child soldier to national sports hero featured in children’s books and depicted in murals.
Sita Adhikari left a refugee camp in eastern Nepal at the end of January. She was set to join relatives already in Rochester, New York on Jan. 31, less than a week after US President Donald Trump ordered a four-month hold on refugee resettlement.
As a tense immigration battle played out in the US, Adhikari was attending orientation classes on the practicalities of her future life.
“First day we are taught about diaper class…”
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A teenage girl in a long skirt and bright red top spins to a Nepali folk song over a crackly speaker. Her thick black braid trails her as she whips and turns.
It’s Teacher’s Day at Beldangi refugee camp. Students at Tri Ratna Secondary School are thanking their teachers with speeches, songs, and folk dances on a bamboo stage decorated with their mothers’ saris.
This has been a yearly tradition since the school opened in 1992, when the refugees had just arrived and classes were held in an empty field. Now, they study in a modest complex of bamboo classrooms that even has a science lab and small teachers’ lounge. But there aren’t many students left.
A 15-year-old girl died in a menstrual hut in western Nepal sometime between the night of Saturday, Dec. 17 and the morning of Sunday, Dec. 18. According to Nepal’s Republica newspaper, Roshani Tiruwa, from Nepal’s Achham district, went to the shed after eating dinner around 6 p.m. She lit a fire in the tiny mud hut before going to sleep. Tiruwa’s father found her body the next morning. District police suspect the ninth grader died from a lack of oxygen.
“There wasn’t any space for air to come in or smoke to escape so she died from suffocation,” Bhagawati Aryal, a government employee with the district Women’s Development Office, told NPR.
This marks the second death related to the practice of menstrual seclusion in Nepal’s Achham district in a month.
It’s a common practice in some villages in western Nepal — women who are menstruating sleep in a small hut or shed out of a fear they will contaminate the home or anger the Hindu gods if they remain indoors. Many people in this part of the country believe family members or livestock will get sick, or even die, if a menstruating woman doesn’t stick to the rules.
The next morning, family members discovered that 26-year-old Upadhyay had died. Hers is not the first death related to the practice…
A group of villagers walks through Jiling, in the Nuwakot district of central Nepal, with eyes glued to the ground. They cut narrow paths around rice fields and yield to goats until they find what they are looking for: A brown, stinky, fly-covered pile.
”It’s poop,” laughs 40-year-old Chandra Kumari. Human poop.