A little boy who calls himself, "Michael Jackson", Mohammad and Ahmed stand outside the fence of Forward Operating Base Salerno, asking for cookies from American military personel leaving the chow hall near Khost City, Afghanistan. ÅMadame, his name is Michael Jackson,Ã yelled Ahmed, the eldest boy in the group, pointing to the smallest boy. ÅMadame, cookies,Ã yelled the younger one, pretending to limp and mimicking basic Michael Jackson moves on the rocky soil beneath his old torn up sandals.
Being thirteen years old in America is not what it used to be. With everything from growth hormones in milk to rampant sex and violence on TV, kids just grow up faster than they used to. Mary Stone Eddins, 13, is learning to juggle more than boys and homework in this challenging world.
Security men for Afghan warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum prepare to search visitors at his compound in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Congolese National Army soldiers listen to sensitivity training. On a rainy afternoon, 100 Congolese soldiers lined up in a shabby formation on their base to participate in the army's new anti-rape exercise. The recruits slouched and fiddled, listening to an audiotape of soldiers boasting after a gang rape and then pressuring a reluctant enlisted man to take his turn. Although the drama was scripted, it made for chilling listening to assembled women's health advocates and soldiers' wives. Many of the men telegraphed boredom and disagreement, clear signals that they didn't feel the need to learn how to deal with women on that rainy day.
Santa Mapenzi, 16, was raped when she was 14 years old and became pregnant with her son, Simeni. "I was back at my home, and I was studying. I was a student and coming from school late at night when they raped me," she says, "I heard about HEAL Africa, and they told me I could learn how to sew until I can go back to school. Mapenzi has spent three months in the traumatic fistula ward at HEAL Africa Hospital in the town of Goma in war-torn eastern Congo. Her days are spent caring for her child, sewing and trying to recover from her rape. The Christian charity HEAL Africa offers a full slate of services to women who have been sexually assaulted: surgery to repair rape-torn tissues, psychological and legal counseling, pastoral care, vegetable gardens to maintain, and a workshop that teaches sewing.Ä
Varsha Hitkari is helped to a drink of water by her parents. Her husband hung her from the shower head after she gave birth to a second girl instead of the son he wanted. Her brother found her in time to save her life, but she was in a coma for six weeks and has not been
the same since. Her second daughter, Pari, 18 months old, wears a shirt that says "boy" and drinks from her bottle at their home in
Kanpur, India. Her father, Ramesh Chandra, cannot afford the 200,000 rupees (about $4,500 dollars) needed for the kind of physical
therapy she will need to recover. Local police have not arrested anyone for the crime.
Women are an endangered species in India. "Raising a daughter", said an old Punjabi saying, "is like watering your neighbor's garden." In the last 20 years India has lost about 10 million girls to sex selection. Due to the devaluation of women and expensive dowries required by the groom's family, women are holding out for boy children. Sons are preferred in India because boys will be more prosperous and take care of their aging parents. They carry on the family name and are the ones to inherit family wealth. Girls are seen as a drain on family resources. Many women rely on illegal ultrasounds to determine sex, leading to the aborting of girl fetuses. the world's largest democracy is experiencing a shift in the ratio of men to women as more girls are lost. The long-term effects are coming to fruition; orphanages filled with girls, schools filled with boys, villages with shortages of brides.
Despite its status as one of the world's largest democracies, India is a country where women suffer a low status. A beggar woman shares the sidewalk with a stray dog while a man waves her away.
They are called Guardian Angels and the mission of these US Air Force para-rescuemen is not to drop bombs, but to save lives and bring home troops doing battle in Afghanistan. All are trained trauma medical technicians who can perform battlefield surgery under enemy fire. "These aren't numbers, these are our family, our brothers, sisters, husbands, wives and children," said Pararescueman Vincent Eckert, from Tucson, Ariz. "We've kind of become a jack of all trades. These are the things we do so that others may live.
Aboard a HH-60 G, "Pave Hawks", helicopter, Staff Sgt. Joshua Keyes, 30, Alturas, Cal., a Para-rescueman or "PJ", (Para-jumper) of the 55th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron of the USAF, keeps watch over the terrain, in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan as he proceeds on a rescue mission to bring in a "code alpha" casualty from the battlefield.
Santa Mapenzi, 16, learns to sew at the HEALing Arts program at HEAL Africa hospital in Goma. She and her baby Simeoni, 1 yr., who was conceived when she was raped, have spent three months in the hospital's traumatic fistula ward. The Christian charity HEAL Africa, in the eastern Congo city of Goma, offers a full slate of services to women who have been sexually assaulted: surgery to repair rape-torn tissues, psychological and legal counseling, pastoral care, vegetable gardens to maintain, and a workshop that teaches sewing.
Women listen intently durning class at a reading center in Karachi, Pakistan. Many schools offer classes to illiterate woman so they bring their learning home. National Commission for Human Development has started 108,000 adult literacy centers in Pakistan since 2002 and have taught 2.6 million women to read. Their yearly goal is to start 100,000 centers each year and teach 2.5 million women to read.
Ahai, a fragile young woman of about 22, weeps, her heart heavy from the suffering she has endured since the death of her baby and trauma of living with a fistula.
Obstetric fistula is a debilitating condition in which women injured in childbirth uncontrollably leak a trail of urine or feces. While a delivery by caesarian section prevents obstetric fistula, in sub-Saharan Africa such medical procedures and prenatal care rarely exist. As many as three million women, many in Ethiopia, suffer the devastating effects of this injury, while being shunned by the patriarchal society of their clans and villages. The Bahar Dar Fistula Hospital is one of the few refuges for these suffering women.
Netsanet Feleke, 15, stands in a mud house in her village in Bure, Ethiopia. She has been leaking urine, and with no medical care available nearby, she must travel a few hours to the Bahar Dar Hamlin Fistula Center, in Bahar Dar, Ethiopia.
An man stands on a hill at a refugee camp outside the United Nations Peacekeeping base in Kiwanja, Democratic Republic of the Congo. More than a thousand families now live in small thatch and tarp huts outside the Monuc base in Kiwanja. Many other families have temporarily settled in tents even farther from the fighting. Throughout the region, people have returned to their villages to find their homes looted or burned, and their crops stolen or destroyed. The scale of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has grown so critical that Human Rights Watch recently estimated 90,000 people who live in the Kivus have been in the last few months been displaced by the fighting and the marauding.
Rakshana Begum, right, squats in a corner of her house in the shadow of her husband. There is a shortage of brides in the village about 100 miles south of New Delhi, India, so her husband paid 4,000 rupees or $90 to have her trafficked in from northern India. Husband Israel Khan, 26, says, "I was poor and couldn't get a wife here." Rakshana has given him two sons. He is no longer poor; he owns five water buffaloes and a cell phone.
Ethiopian Orthodox Priest Surgowe Addis, drinks his tea in his mud hut in Bure, a town in the Woundgee area of northern Ethiopia. In the corner is his Kazera, a walking stick.
Each year, thousands of visitors coat themselves in the healing mud of the Dead Sea in Israel. Thursday, February 2, 2006
Women who make it to the Bahar Dar Hamlin Fistula Center, in Bahar Dar, Ethiopia are the lucky ones. No women suffering from fistula is ever turned away.
Antonio Benson, 44, stands outside a convienience store in Washington DC watching the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade.
Shereen placed a ball of pure opium on a small piece of foil she had pulled from her cigarette pack. Balancing it in her shaky hands Ä a lit cigarette dangling from her lips - she heated the bottom foil until the opium rose from the burning ashes into her mouth. With deep breaths, she filled her lungs with the dark smoke. The only sound, a whimper coming from her parsed dried lips as she took another hit. Shereen lives in the high crime neighborhood of KabulÅs District 2, ÅMy husband is an addict too. He doesnÅt want to quit. I wish I could stop but I canÅt Ä I donÅt know how to. My husband wonÅt let me go to the clinic and if he knew anyone was here he would kill me.Ã
MOTHER'S LITTLE HELPER
Spc. Ken Philpot, 22, Blackwatch Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team out of Ft. Lewis, Washington, Thursday, October 29, 2009, sits on a Stryker vehicle and reads his book at Combat Outpost Rath, in the Maywan District of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.
Joshua, 10, holds a toy gun he bought in the market outside the barbed wire fence of the United Nations mobile operating base near the village of Nyabanira. The UN has 34 mobile operating bases in North Kivu, small military encampments planted in or near villages to provide security and communications in Congo. Living within this downward spiral of violence has severe consequences, not least the effects of living traumatized by war and in a culture that seems to have forgotten its children.