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A Story of Courage, Saved from Taliba...
Swat, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 Mar 2012

A girl prays during a morning school assembly at her primary school in the village Sijban, Swat Valley, Afghanistan.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Taliba...
Swat, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 Mar 2012

Gul Khandana, the school's headmistress, with her students. Khanadana helped save the school from destruction at hands of Taliban during their short rule.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Taliba...
Swat, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 Mar 2012

Gul Khandana along with her husband resisted pressure from Taliban to stop teaching at the girls school during their rule. She refused to give in to the threats and continued her work.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Taliba...
Swat, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 Mar 2012

Gul Khandana in her office in girls primary school in village Sijban, Swat. Gul Khandana resisted the effort by local Taliban to burn down the girls school.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Talib...
Swat, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 Mar 2012

Gul Khandana with her students in a classroom. The Sijban girls primary school was saved from Taliban by Gul Khandana as she refused to let them destroy it.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Talib...
Swat, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 Mar 2012

Gul Khandana teaches at Sijban girls primary school in Swat Valley.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Taliba...
Swat, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 Mar 2012

Headmistress Gul Khandana teaches a class. The school provides education at the primary level, however Gul would like the government to upgrade it to a middle category of schooling due to a rising demand for girls education.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Taliba...
Swat, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 Mar 2012

Gul Khandana interacts with her student at a girls primary school in Sijban.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Taliba...
Swat, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 Mar 2012

Gul Khandana teaches at Sijban girls primary school in the Swat Valley.The number of girls in the school has significantly increased since peace was restored in the area.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Talib...
Swat, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 Mar 2012

Gul Khandana teaches at Sijban girls primary school in Swat Valley. The school was saved by destruction by Gul Khandana when Taliban threatened to burn it down.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Talib...
Swat, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 Mar 2012

Gul Khandana teaches at Sijban girls primary school in Swat Valley. The school was damaged during the military operation even though it survived the Taliban rule.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Talib...
Swat, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 Mar 2012

A view from inside Sijban girls primary school in Swat Valley. The school was saved by destruction by Gul Khandana when Taliban threatened to burn it down.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Taliba...
Swat, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 Mar 2012

Girls sing in Sijban primary school in Swat Valley Pakistan.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Taliba...
Swat, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 Mar 2012

Girls at Sijban primary school in the Swat Valley. The valley was under Taliban rule for a short time before the Pakistani army took over.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Taliba...
Swat, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 Mar 2012

Swat valley was very popular with local and foreign tourists before the Taliban takeover. Although peace was restored in the area, foreigners are still not advised to visit without permission of the Pakistani army, who continue to have a strong military presence in the valley four years after the operation.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Talib...
Swat, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 Mar 2012

The Swat valley is famous for its orchards and beautiful weather. The valley was off limits to any tourists during Taliban rule.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Taliba...
Swat, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 Mar 2012

The Swat valley is returning to normalcy after two long years of turbulence at the hands of the Taliban.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Talib...
Swat Valley, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
07 Mar 2012

Gul-e-Khandana, a school teacher, helped save the girls school she taught in from the destruction of the Taliban. During their short rule in the Swat Valley, the Taliban attempted to burn the school down. Gul-e- Khandana is now the head teacher in the same school after peace was restored in the area.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Taliba...
Swat Valley, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
07 Mar 2012

A girl prays during the morning school assembly in a small village called Sijban, deep in the Swat Valley. Gul Khandana, a school teacher, helped save the school from the destruction during the Taliban's short rule, during which they attempted to burn it down.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Taliba...
Swat Valley, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
07 Mar 2012

Headmistress Gul Khandana prays with her students during the morning assembly in Sijban, a village deep in the Swat Valley. The village and school were threatened by violence from the Taliban during their short rule.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Talib...
Swat Valley, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
07 Mar 2012

Head teacher, Gul Khandana oversees the morning assembly with her students. The Taliban threatened to burn the school down during their short rule.
Swat Valley, Pakistan.

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Casualty of War
Kabul, Afghanistan
By MediaMikeDC
01 Mar 2012

A handicapped man in a wheelchair on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan.

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Demolition Drive In Golibar
Khar East, Mumbai, India
By Javed Iqbal
29 Feb 2012

A resident tries to stall the demolition of his friend's home by calling up a commanding police officer.

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Snow on a Wire
Kabul, Afghanistan
By MediaMikeDC
31 Jan 2012

Snow on on top of razor sharp barbed wire.

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Malala Interview with Rohit Gandhi in...
Mingora, Swat, Pakistan
By Rohit Gandhi
15 Jun 2011

In this sequel interview, Malala addresses peace in South Asia, which the Taliban are against. She also talks about engaging in politics because she feels politicians in Pakistan leave something to be desired.

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A Story of Courage, Saved from Taliba...
Swat Valley, Pakistan
By U.S. Editor
15 Feb 2011

School teacher Gul Khandera’s stubborn resistance to the Taliban has made her a heroine in her hometown of Siljbon, and a voice for girls' education rights in Pakistan. The school where Gul Khandera was teaching, which also happens to be the school where Gul herself was educated, was threatened by the Taliban because it had female students.
Gul Khandera's refusal to comply with the Taliban's demands made her a personal target, forcing her to move to Mardan. When the Taliban were ousted from Swat, Gul returned and was relieved to see that her school had not been destroyed. Now a considered a hero, Gul has become headmaster of the school and is working to re-establish education for girls in the Swat Valley.

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Sulphur Mines at Kawah Ijen Indonesia
Kawah Ijen, Indonesia.
By Jeffrey Bright
19 Jan 2011

A miner maintains pipes that are driven into the fissures in the rock to extract sulphur from the mountain. Escaping volcanic gases are channeled through a network of ceramic pipes, resulting in condensation of molten sulphur.

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Interview with Malala Yousafzai
Swat, Pakistan
By Rohit Gandhi
11 Nov 2009

Interview produced in 2009. Malala Yousafzai is a school student and education activist from the town of Mingora in the Swat District of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. On 9 October 2012, a Taliban gunman shot Yousafzai as she rode home on a bus after taking an exam in Pakistan’s Swat Valley.

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SLUMS IN INDIA
Sion, Mumbai, India
By Mais Istanbuli
08 May 2009

The homes of the original inhabitants of Mumbai, the Kolis have been facing demolition drive for high-end development projects.

As per law, a builder requires 70% of the residents of a registered society to give consent to the project but in Sion Koliwada, the residents have repeatedly asserted that the builder used forged documents to claim a majority for the project.

There are over 80 re-development projects in Mumbai where residents have repeatedly claimed that the builder used fraudulent means to claim consent.

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The Killing of Channu Mandavi
Dantewada, India
By Javed Iqbal
13 Apr 2009

19 year old Channu Mandavi, a Muria tribal, was gunned down by the police as an alleged left-wing extremist on the 12th of April, 2009.

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Kushti
Varanasi, India
By Carsten Snejbjerg
05 Mar 2008

The club, Akhara Guru Gaya Seth, has around 150 members. Most of these train twice a day; early morning and late afternoon. A good part of the physical training consists of push-ups and rope climbing, and while dumbbells are used it is mainly their bodies they use as ballast. The actual wrestling is performed within a square approximately 4x4 meters in size.

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PAKISTAN'S ENDANGERED MINORITY
Chitral, Pakistan
By Mais Istanbuli
01 Jan 2008

NORTHWEST FRONTIER PROVINCE, Pakistan —

High in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province in a barely accessible area, live the Kalash People, Pakistan’s last remaining non-Muslim tribe. The Kalasha live in small villages built into the sides of idyllic valleys with gurgling streams, wheat and cornfields and fruit trees. Wooden houses stacked one on top of another, climb up the sides of steep cliffs. Children play freely and attend co-ed schools, while parents harvest crops and till the land.
Though they once numbered in the tens of thousands, the Kalasha have seen their numbers dwindle over the past century. Most experts put the current Kalasha population between 3,000 and 4,000.
The polytheistic Kalasha — whose women wear vibrant-colored embroidered dresses and beaded headdresses called “susutr" — are viewed with both admiration and suspicion by the Islamic majority.
After tens of thousands of Kalasha people, also called Nuristanis, were forcibly converted to Islam during the last century, only a few thousand retain their ancestral religion and traditions.
Wynn Maggi, anthropologist and author of "Our Women Are Free," says they were "brutally and forcibly converted to Islam, horribly persecuted, put in jail ... the Kalasha suffered a lot in their history.” Kalasha women were sometimes abducted and forced to marry Muslim men. Stories circulated of Kalasha men being forcibly circumcised.
With their light coloring — some even have blue eyes — the Kalasha are rumored to be the descendants of Alexander the Great’s army, which conquered the Hindu Kush along with “the known world” in the 4th century B.C. In Kalasha oral history, the people are the children of "Salaxi," their name for Alexander.
Most scientists and anthropologists dispute the legend: No genetic ties between Kalasha and Greeks have been discovered, and scientists believe the Kalasha are Indo-Aryans whose religion has some commonalities with pre-Zorastrian Iranians.
But regardless, the legend once lured busloads of Greek tourists to the valleys, seeking a link to their ancestral past.
“The tourists would always bring Greek coins and small perfume bottles with a portrait of Alexander the Great. Greek filmmakers have come to film the Kalasha. Some Greeks even brought Kalashas back to Greece to dance,” Maggi explained. Hellenic Aid has funded several projects in the Kalash Valleys, including the construction of two magnificent, wood-hewn Kalasha schools and several bashalis, women’s menstrual homes. "Their culture is a treasure belonging not only to Pakistan but to the whole world," said Athanasios Lerounis, a Greek teacher and activist who in 2009 was kidnapped and kept hostage for eight months—presumably by Islamic militants who disapproved of his work. There are just a few thousand Kalasha living “among a sea of Muslims,” he said — more than half of the remaining Kalasha have converted to Islam.

"We are here to support these cultural islands." Kalasha culture is threatened over pressure to convert to Islam. The pressure to convert to Islam comes in various forms. Some Kalasha convert for love or in hopes of bettering themselves, while others bow to peer pressure in the government-run schools, where students mix with Islamic students, and curriculum includes Koranic study. Recently, Kalasha girls began covering their hand-beaded headdresses with gauzy veils.
Since Kalasha has religion is its center, “Kalasha people see [Islam as a] threat — once you convert you are not 'Kalasha' and you can never be again," Maggi explained.
In the center of the Bumburet Valley, home to the largest Kalasha community, a mosque serves the area's Muslims, and the call to prayer permeates the village five times a day.
On the surface, it appears that Muslims and Kalasha coexist peacefully. Many are related — some converted, some not.
But incidents of ethnic hatred occasionally bubble to the surface. A wooden alter had it’s horse motif’s “decapitated” explained Akram Hussain, a Kalasha teacher at the Kaladasur School.
"This altar ... is sacred and historic," Nearby, a madrassa was built next to the Kalasha's sacred dancing ground. 
"Why couldn't they have put it any other place?" asked Hussain. Disrespect toward Kalasha religion is not new. Maggi said that a decade ago, “Kalasha gravestones were constantly being desecrated. Punjabi kids would pose and take photographs with the bones of Kalasha ancestors.”
Kalasha leaders can’t help but think that local Muslims damaged their sacred altar, despite protests by the town’s only imam.
“I worry because the tide is turning in Northern Pakistan due to the rise of fundamentalism. If fundamentalism spreads, the Kalasha will be easily targeted and could be wiped out or weakened," Maggi said. “The ironic and sad element is that the situation is destabilizing and escalating," said scholar Saima Saiddiqui. "If the situation remains the same, Kalasha will also suffer and what will be the outcome for the people already few in number?”

-Jodi Hilton