harsh realities~ Qibao

a life she drifted into~

a life she drifted into~

a rough start at life~

a rough start at life~

In Qibao, and old area of Shanghai, is a neighborhood(if you can call it that) of green lanes. Confronting realities wait there behind each door and in front of some where young women prepare to sell themselves for a living. As much as this practice is as old as civilization itself, it remains heartbreaking to witness people’s daughters going through this to survive. And most painful of all was seeing a little girl forced to grow up in that strange world of green lanes.

 

Behind the screen windows of Shanghai’s alleys

behind the window screens of Shanghai's alleys

behind the window screens of Shanghai’s alleys

Shanghainese women, famous for their strong personalities and their control of the household including their men have become a stereotype in China. The wife in Shanghai is known to make her husband hand in his whole salary at the end of the month and to only give him back a small portion as pocket-money as she sees fit. He also has a strict curfew for coming home at night and he is expected to perform certain household duties on top of his daily job. I took a sneak peek at some of these lovely ladies’ mahjong gambling activities in the afternoon behind a dusty window screen in one of the alleys of the old city, and strength is certainly a quality they emanate.

 

Day 26~ December 26th~ Guilin

The long haired women of the yao minority

The long haired women of the yao minority

No one is allowed to see her hair until she marries, each Yao woman can carry around her head up 1.9 meters of hair wrapped around like a crown. If a young man happens to catch sight of a girl’s hair, then he must invite her to live with his parents as a bride for 3 whole years. Another of our wonderfully colorful human traditions and another chapter in the mystery of hair.

 

Day 18~ December 18th~ Guilin

innocent wonder

innocent wonder

One of the rewards of going into far away parts of China is meeting innocence. Innocence lives her sister simplicity with the natural people of this world. My friend who travelled with me on this trip has amazingly beautiful and extremely curly hair and at the sight of it a crowd of sweet women gathered and followed us around with the single wish of touching my friend’s hair. Moments like this make you have hope again for our world and its war of differences.

Day 14~ November 14th~ New York

the towers that never crumble

The towers of even the most formidable kings and queens have been known to crumble and fall when built on shaky foundations and glued with questionable principles. Life is like that. Friendships are like that too. It is in New York that I made real friends, where friendships were nurtured and grown that were able to withstand distance, time and change. It is a lucky human who can say I have people in my life that I believe in, count on, trust and can always reconnect with. It is one of life’s most precious gifts.

Day 29~ April 29th~ Congo

a tougher life than most

When we grumble about the extra pound we had to lift in our air conditioned gym, the heavy bag of groceries we had to move from the supermarket cart to the trunk of our car, or when we have to work an extra hour in the office, it is good to remember how some other people live around the world.

It is good to remember that wealth is not distributed fairly on this planet and that the balances are off and have been for a long while. Do we just say ‘this is life’ or do we work on having a better life? Many do, and as I come closer to the close of this month’s project on Congo, I send thanks to them. I am grateful to the humanitarians of the world, to those who give without counting the cost, and who push so hard to try and even out a crooked world.