Saturday, September 20, 2008

Squatters Camp

I'm finally starting the "real" work on the project I came to do, which is to document the effects of poverty on women and children here in Nepal. I visited a squatters camp yesterday, where there are 200 make-shift houses built on an illegally occupied piece of land along the Bagmati river in Lalitpur (Patan), smack in the middle of bustling Kathmandu. Most of the people living there are families that have migrated from villages, and they are just trying to survive like anyone else.

While the governmental powers are shifting and promises are being made to better the situation for the country's poor, the truly destitute are being left behind in the vision of a "New Nepal." Urban poverty goes greatly ignored, and the busy traffic that passes over the bridge overlooking this camp turns a blind eye to the struggle going on down below.

People here are subsisting on the most basic of levels. Their houses are patched together with old sign boards and leftover mesh rice bags. Still, the earth floored shelters are kept tidy, and several of the houses have vegetable and flower gardens.

These are a few snapshots I took... just breaking the ice pictures. I was swarmed by all of the kids asking me to take their photo, and I was just happy for their open, friendly welcome. I'm looking at these first impressions and wondering how to best tell this story and to give a sense of place and people that can show something about the precarious reality that this community faces. Though these pictures are just a few, I hope they give some overview sense of what this camp looks like.

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