Women and Water: A Photo Story

Last year, we did a photography workshop with women’s group in Shushuna village, Spiti Valley, who are primary caretakers and farmers in their households. After the session, we left them a camera and asked them to document their village life in addition to nurturing their photography skills. We returned a year later and they enthralled us with amazing pictures and great stories! Enjoy reading this one!    *click slider image to view all photos*

Photo and story contribution from:

Kesang Dolker, Yangchen Dolma, Rigzen Youdon, Migmar   Dolma, Panama Dikit, Tsering Yangzom, Prabha Devi, Choddon, Dikit Dolma, Yangchen

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5 (1)

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Lush green fields in Shushuna

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3 (3)

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5 (1)

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Shushuna is a quaint little hamlet in Spiti. Surrounded by high mountains, lush green fields and gushing rivulet that changes its hue from turquoise green to shades of grey.

Women engaging in knitting during summers

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Women engaging in knitting during summers

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Women engaging in knitting during summers

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Women engaging in knitting during summers

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It is a bright sunny day in June and a group of women can be leisurely seen knitting sweaters, mufflers and socks for winter … an unusual sight during peak farming season in Spiti.

Spiti Valley - a trans-Himalayan cold desert

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Spiti Valley - a trans-Himalayan cold desert

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Spiti Valley - a trans-Himalayan cold desert

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Spiti Valley - a trans-Himalayan cold desert

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Spiti is a high Himalayan mountain desert with scanty rainfall and glacial melt water as the prime source for most villages. As such, water is sparse, the agricultural season and vegetation short, and lives vulnerable.

Making and using water flowing through water channels (kuls)

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Making and using water flowing through water channels (kuls)

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Making and using water flowing through water channels (kuls)

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Making and using water flowing through water channels (kuls)

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When most Spitian villages are drying up, fields unyielding, brimming Kuls of Shushuna signals benign possibilities.

Spiti river

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Spiti river

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Spiti river

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Spiti river

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Situated along the river basin, the village owes its blessings to the mighty Spiti river and its tributaries from Pin valley which forms an essential lifeline to the resident farming community.

Pulley bridge connecting Shushuna to the NH 505

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Pulley bridge connecting Shushuna to the NH 505

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Pulley bridge connecting Shushuna to the NH 505

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Pulley bridge connecting Shushuna to the NH 505

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However, to reach the village, one has to take a suspended rope bridge. A dangerous feat villagers have to undertake every day! Women often pair up and cross it together. Holding essentials and looking out for each other - lest it can prove fatal!

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6 (4)

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6 (5)

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More time for handicrafts

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6 (4)

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Water which is located at a significant distance in most Himalayan villages, can be found in one’s backyard here – easing huge strain on villagers.

 

When your fields are at a reachable distance, and when you don’t spend hours fetching water, there’s so much more one can do including spending time with family and more time to self!

Carpet weaving

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20211128_140540

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Trying new crochet designs

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Carpet weaving

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...exploring additional sources of income resulting in greater agency.

The photography group

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The photography group

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When water is accessible, it leads to happier, healthier communities.

About the Storytellers

This story is based on the lives of women in Shushuna, a village of ten households in Spiti. They are part of a conservation initiative where they pledge to contribute to greater environmental protection in their village, prevent any poaching/hunting attempts, and ensure greater ecological harmony in their vicinity. Additionally they are an active part of a conservation focused enterprise called Shen that promotes production and sale of handicraft products.