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July 27, 2009

Stories from Israel, Tanzania and Malaysia

Today, we have three shorter stories, from The Israel-Syria border, Tanzania and Malaysia. Each of these stories caught my eye over the past year, yet I never had enough photographs of each to run them as their own Big Picture entry. Today, I'm happy to share them with you in a single entry in three parts. Below, you will find the story of an Israeli Druze bride who traveled (by foot) north to Syria to wed - and to never return, because Syria and Israel do not have diplomatic ties. You'll also see the faces of a hunted minority in Tanzania, albinos who live in fear of being murdered for their body parts, which will be used for talismans and luck potions. And we end with a visit to a clan of Bajau people, or "sea gypsies", an indigenous group living a seaborne life in boats and huts on stilts, rarely coming ashore, off the coast of Malaysia. (31 photos total)

From left to right: Arin Safadi, a Druze woman from the Golan Heights, sets out on a one-way trip to her wedding in Syria; A teenage albino girl in a government-run school in Tanzania, being sheltered from criminals who have already killed dozens of albinos to sell their body parts for luck potions and talismans; Bajau boys, also known as "sea gypsies", paddle their boat near their homes on stilts in the Sulawesi Sea off of Malaysia.




Crossing the border to marry - and never return


Arin Safadi, a 24 year old Druze woman from the village of Ein Qinya in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, set out to marry her fiance, 35-year-old Rabia Safadi in neighboring Syria last September. However, due to the absence of diplomatic ties between Syria and Israel, she had to sign a document shortly befor leaving, giving up her right of residence - acknowledging that she would not be allowed to return to her family home. Arin and Rabia were married the same day, planning to move to Jaramana, a twon near Damascus, Syria. (10 photos total)


Israeli-Druze bride Arin Safadi, 24, departs through the United Nations buffer zone at the Quneitra crossing in the Golan Heights, to marry a Syrian-Druze groom on Septemper 25, 2008. Once she crosses into Syria, the bride is not allowed to return to Israel. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty) #


Bride Arin Safadi hugs a relative as she leaves her family home on September 25, 2008 in her village of Ein Qiniya in the Golan Heights, the strategic plateau that Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images) #


Arin Safadi is kissed by a relative as she leaves her family home to be married in Syria on September 25, 2008. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images) #


Arin Safadi prepares to cross the Israeli-Syrian border of Kuneitra on September 25, 2008 after leaving her family home. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images) #


Friends and relatives of Israeli-Druze bride Arin Safadi react during her departure to marry a Syrian-Druze groom, through the United Nations buffer zone at the Quneitra crossing in the Golan Heights. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty) #


United Nations border guards stand at the Syrian-Israeli border into Quneitra, where Druze bride Arin Safadi crossed into Syria on September 25, 2008. (LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images) #


Arin Safadi waves as she crosses the Israeli-Syrian border of Kuneitra. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images) #


A Druze relative of Arin Safadi cries at the Kuneitra border crossing between Israel and Syrian on September 25, 2008. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images) #


Arin Safadi crosses the Syrian-Israeli check point with her husband, Rabia Safadi (on her right), on September 25, 2008. (REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri) #


Arin Safadi wipes her tears as she joins her groom in a waiting car on September 25, 2008 after crossing the Israeli-Syrian border. (LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images) #




Albinos in danger in Tanzania


While albinos in sub-Saharan Africa have faced discrimination for many years, their situation has become far more dangerous in recent years in Tanzania. Albinos in Tanzania are increasingly targeted by those who would kill them for their body organs, limbs and even hair to be used in luck potions by others seeking wealth and good fortune in business and professional circles. According to local residents, witch doctors use the organs and bones in concoctions to divine for diamonds in the soil, while fishermen have been known to weave albino hair into their nets hoping for a big catch on Lake Victoria. More than 50 albinos have been killed in Tanzania and neighboring Burundi in the past year - prompting a network of protective services and a few arrests and murder trials which have been fast-tracked by the Tanzanian government. (10 photos total)


A teenage Tanzanian albino girl sits in the female dormitory at a government-run school for the disabled in Kabanga, in the west of the country near the town of Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika June 5, 2009. The school began to take in albino children late last year after albinos were being killed in Tanzania and neighbouring Burundi by people who allegedly sell their body parts for use in witchcraft. Picture taken June 5. (REUTERS/Alex Wynter/IFRC/Handout) #


Mabula, 76, crouches beside his bed January 25, 2009 in his mud-thatched bedroom in a village near Mwanza near the grave of his granddaughter, five-year-old Mariam Emmanuel, an Albino who was murdered and mutilated in an adjacent room in February of 2008 and who was buried inside the mud hut to discourage grave robbers who commonly dig up albino bones. (TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images) #


This picture taken on May 28, 2009 shows human body parts including a femur and what appears to be stack of skin tissue (edit: object appears more likely to be an elephant's tooth) exhibited in a courtroom during a trial of 11 Burundians accused of the murder of albinos, whose limbs have been sold to witch doctors in neighbouring Tanzania, in Ruyigi. A Burundi prosecutor, Nicodeme Gahimbare, demanded sentences ranging from one year to life in prison at a trial. Gahimbare requested life sentences for three of the 11 accused, eight of whom were in the dock over the killing of a eight-year-old girl and a man in March this year. (Esdras Ndikumana/AFP/Getty Images) #


A Tanzanian Red Cross Society (TRCS) volunteer holds the hand of an albino toddler at a picnic organised by the TRCS at the government-run school for the disabled in Kabanga, in the west of the country near the town of Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika June 5, 2009. (REUTERS/Alex Wynter/IFRC/Handout) #


Albino children take a break on January 25, 2009 in a recreational hall at the Mitindo Primary School for the blind, which has become a rare sanctuary for albino children.(TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images) #


Neema Kajanja, 28, molds a pot from clay at her grandmother's home in Ukerewe, Tanzania on January 27, 2009, where she and two siblings, both albinos, curently live. Ukerewe, an island on Lake Victoria near the town of Mwanza, is a safe haven compared to other parts of Tanzania where people with albinism now live in fear for their lives as their body parts limbs, internal organs and even hair grow increasingly sought after to be sold for luck potions. (TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images) #


Nine-year-old Amani sits in a recreational hall at the Mitindo Primary School for the blind on January 25, 2009, where he enrolled following the murder of his sibling, five-year-old Mariam Emmanuel, an albino who was murdered and mutilated in February 2008. (TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images) #


Albino children play at the Mitindo Primary School for the blind on January 25, 2009. The school has become a rare sanctuary for vulnerable albino children in Tanzania. (TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images) #


An albino child poses at a picnic organised by the Tanzania Red Cross Society (TRCS) at the government-run school for the disabled in Kabanga, near Kigoma, Tanzania on June 5, 2009. (REUTERS/Alex Wynter/IFRC/Handout) #


An Albino teenage girl copies notes from a blackboard in her classroom at the Mitindo Primary School for the blind on January 28, 2009 in Tanzania. (TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images) #




Borneo's Sea Gypsies


The Bajau are an ethnic group living in Malaysia - a loose collection of several related indigenous groups and tribes from the surrounding area. Often referred to as "Sea Gypsies", due to a historic existence as a nomadic seafaring people, more and more of the Bajau have been moving onshore over time. However, in some areas, communities of families are still maintaining their nomadic, sea-based lifestyle without a fresh water supply or electricity, only going ashore to bury their dead. (10 photos total)


Sea gypsy boys paddle their boat through their neighborhood in the Sulawesi Sea in Malaysia's state of Sabah on Borneo, February 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad) #


A family of sea gypsies gather on a deck of their hut in their neighborhood in the Sulawesi Sea near the Malaysia's state of Sabah on February 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad) #


A girl steers her boat near her home in the Sulawesi Sea, Malaysia on February 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad) #


A family laughs while gathered in their hut in the Sulawesi Sea in Malaysia on February 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad) #


Huts on stilts form part of a neighborhood of sea gypsies in the ocean waters off Malaysia's state of Sabah. Poto taken February 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad (MALAYSIA) #


Young sea gypsies laugh as they gather outside of their hut in the Sulawesi Sea off the island of Borneo on February 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad (MALAYSIA) #


Children sit on their boat outside of their family hut in Malaysia's state of Sabah on Borneo island on February 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad (MALAYSIA) #


A sea gypsy boy paddles his boat through his neighborhood in the Sulawesi Sea, Malaysia on February 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad (MALAYSIA) #


Young sea gypsies play in the water among their homes in the Sulawesi Sea on February 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad (MALAYSIA) #


A family gathers on a deck of their hut in the in Sulawesi Sea at sunset, February 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad (MALAYSIA) #


 
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