PhD theses are usually dry and academic, but Sara Parker, a geography lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, has built on her dissertation to get the entire village of Sikles in the Annapurnas involved in a photography project.
Parker first came to the scenic Kaski village in 1992 to teach English, and researched the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP). She knew well the founder of ACAP, Chandra Gurung who was also a native of Sikles. In 2009, she started working on a photo documentation project, under which she distributed cameras to the men and women of Sikles to take pictures of their everyday lives.
The book is unique because the pictures in it capture the sense of community of the stunningly beautiful Gurung villages that are going through tremendous transformation. This is not a coffee table book by some famous western photographer, these are images of Nepalis as they see themselves.
The project aims to involve the villagers in documenting their culture, rituals and traditions in pictures and to use them for the promotion of Sikles as a tourist destination.
Proceeds from the sale of the books, the national and international exhibitions, will go to support schools in Sikles, the local youth club and the healthcare and other activities of the ACAP. It will also help the Chandra Gurung Foundation, named after ACAP's architect who died in the tragic helicopter accident in Ghunsa in 2008.
One school at a time, RUBEENA MAHATO