Page 1



On the Front Lines with the VICE Award-Winning Correspondent

AMANDA LINDHOUT The New York Times Best-Selling Author on Life after her kidnapping

GLORIA STEINEM A Travel Essay from the Feminist Leader

BUENOS AIRES A Feminist City Guide to Argentina’s Capital













Elise Fitzsimmons Nikki Vargas Kelly Lewis Stephanie Flor Ainhi Pham Loren Olson Maria Eilersen Sarah Anderson Melissa Twigg, Carole Rosenblat, Annapurna Mellor, Gloria Steinem, Kae Lani Amanda Suarez, Annapurna Mellor Isobel Yeung, VICE, Sasha Quintana, Karen Hull, Jeff Cerulli, Tyler Smith, Dennis Galligan, Our Advertisers, Our Kickstarter Backers, Our Patrons Unearth Women (Print) 2578 – 7586


Staff Picks 5

What Woman Inspires You to Travel?


What We’re Loving Now


In Review: Maps are Lines we Draw


A Letter From Our Editor


ith women across industries defying the patriarchy and holding men accountable for their actions, Unearth Women was born from the growing frustration that it’s about damn time women in the travel industry are recognized. The fact is, ladies, we are a tour de force in travel. Women make up more than 70 percent of the travel consumer base yet most print travel publications are founded and/or edited by men. Enter Unearth Women, the first feminist travel magazine with a mission to unearth women’s stories around the world. For our first issue—the Resilience Issue—we celebrate strong women who defy opposition and are the definition of tough. We profiled award-winning VICE correspondent and our cover star, Isobel Yeung, who shines a light on overlooked stories in Syria and Afghanistan. We interview New York Times best-selling author Amanda Lindhout, who survived 460 days as a captive in Somalia and speaks openly about her path to recovery. We feature an essay by feminist, activist, and author Gloria Steinem on traveling to India as a woman. Contributor Carole Rosenblat profiles Rose Mapendo, a Congolese death camp survivor turned United Nations Humanitarian Award winner; while Melissa Twigg travels to South Africa to meet the Black Mambas, an all-female anti-poaching unit. Each story in this inaugural issue— authored by a woman and focused on women—celebrates our collective strengths, resilience, beauty, and impact on society. For every female journalist who has been denied a byline considered “too risky” for a woman to report on, this issue is for you. For every woman in the travel industry who has been silenced by men on their career path, this issue is for you. For every dreamer, patriarchy smasher, travel enthusiast, and feminist, our team dedicates this first issue of Unearth Women to you.

10 Journey to Beauty: Morocco

Destination Spotlight 12


Germany’s Hidden Wine Country

20 A Feminist City Guide to Buenos Aires 28

Brave New Eats: Uzbekistan

Cover Story 30 On the Front Lines with Isobel Yeung

Photo by Michelle McSwain Photography

Nikki Vargas Editor-in-Chief & Co-Founder | @TravelEditorNik

Unearthed 42


BLACK MAMBAS Meet the Women Saving South Africa’s Rhino UNSOLVED A Mysterious Murder in the Mountains of Colombia


A Photo Essay of India’s Women


FROM THE VAULT An Essay from Feminist Icon, Gloria Steinem


Women to Watch 78


AMANDA LINDHOUT On Life & Recovery after being held Captive in Somalia


ROSE MAPENDO From a Congolese Death Camp to the United Nations


About our Editor Originally from Colombia and now based in NYC, Nikki is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Unearth Women, the Places Editor of Atlas Obscura, and the Travel Blogger behind The Pin the Map Project.

Nikki is also a freelance journalist and public

speaker on women’s travel, having spoken at the Women in Travel Summit, Women’s Travel Fest, and the New York Times Travel Show. Nikki’s bylines have appeared on VICE, Roads & Kingdoms, HuffPost,

Nikki Vargas

and more.






What Woman Inspires You to Travel?

“I am inspired by British-Iranian journalist and

“I look up to women in my industry including

“My grandma. She has been to more places than

Chief International Correspondent for CNN,

Samantha Brown, Pauline Frommer, and Kellee

I can count, and always comes back having

Christiane Amanpour. Amanpour’s insatiable

Edwards; but really, it's my mother who inspires

learned something new. She’s still traveling in

curiosity for seeing the word paired with her com-

me to travel, mostly because she never did.

her mid 80s.”

passionate reporting inspires me as both a traveler

Taking her on her dream trip (a cruise around the

and journalist to not just arrive at a destination,

Mediterranean in 2016) is still one of the things

but to explore it.”

I'm most proud of.”

Nikki Vargas Editor-in-Chief

Kelly Lewis Executive Editor

Sarah Andersen Editorial Intern

“My latest jet setting girl crush is Dr. Mae Jemison,

“Sitting at my cousin's feet as a young girl with

“The woman that inspires me to travel is my

NASA’s first African American woman to go to

wide, eager eyes, Alyson would tell harrowing

mother. We take mother and daughter trips

space. When she’s not busy being an astronaut, her

tales of her adventures while living in Japan.

once a year and she continues to inspire me to

hobbies include speaking Swahili, photography,

Enchanted by the stores she brought back, I was

think bigger so we can continue to see the world.

weight training, computer programming, and

inspired to seek the wide world for myself and

I didn’t do much traveling as a child but I did

nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. She

take a few adventures of my own.”

see a rockstar wonder women living her best

is a Renaissance woman who is literally out of

life with no limits. That translated to how I

this world.”

see travel.”

Kae Lani Contributor

Elise Fitzsimmons Publisher

Stephanie Flor Beauty Director





What We’re Loving Now

For busty broads, bra shopping can be frustrating. Enter ThirdLove, the first bra and underwear brand to offer trademarked half cup sizing and a mobile app allowing women to measure themselves at home. ThirdLove is a Godsend for women who need an





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3. V STREET: 100 Globe-Hopping Plates on the Cutting Edge of Vegetable Cooking


Bring the world of travel to your home kitchen with vegan dishes created by James Beard Award-winning chefs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby. Recipes include Shishito Robotayaki, Jerk Sweet Potato Salad, Black Garlic Pierogies and global-inspired cocktails like “Hong Kong Karaoke.” $17.89 USD, AMAZON.COM

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A traveler’s best companion is a scarf. Whether you’re staying warm on a long-haul flight or covering your head at a Moroccan souk, a scarf can be used in many ways. The Lululemon Vinyasa Scarf can be worn as a scarf, a shirt, a shawl, and more. $48 USD, LULULEMON.COM.






Maps are Lines we Draw

There are many questions that pass through the mind of a traveler exploring a new place: What is my purpose here? What is my impact on this place? What is the impact this place is having on me?


In her honest and intimate writing, readers can feel the cognitive dissonance of what it’s like as an individual volunteering in developing countries. Coffelt’s inner dialogue is an honest self-analysis as she wonders if she is part of the problem and if her efforts to help are actually exacerbating the complex issues Haitians face. “Here to there” is a phrase that continuously reverberates through the candid prose of Maps are Lines We Draw as Coffelt gives us many ways to interpret its meaning. In some cases, it creates a divide between us while in others the idea of “here” and “there” brings us together, with thought-provoking meditations that create a sense of unity. Overall, this story will not leave you feeling as though good intentions are made in vain and that aid is always given from people “over here” to people “over there.” Coffelt’s personal interactions and interviews with Dr. Marius remind us that the best thing we can offer one another is understanding.

n Allison Coffelt’s debut novel Maps Are Lines We Draw, readers are taken on an emotionally conflicting journey from the perspective of a volunteer in Haiti as she faces these questions head-on. The novel is a cross between a memoir and travelogue woven together with historical research and investigative journalism. Readers are led on a journey through Coffelt’s impressions of Haiti, a country she has dreamed of visiting since her teenage years, as she works alongside Dr. Jean Gardy Marius, founder of the public health organization OSAPO. Coffelt’s live accounts of her travels with Dr. Marius are interspersed with stories of the complicated history of Western influence imposed upon the island and the many injustices Haiti has faced over the years. It is a stark reminder that borders are established by powerful greed and drawn by individuals who do not live long enough to see their long-term ramifications. Diving deeper, Coffelt explores how others continue to influence Haiti, she peels back the good intentions of aid organizations—in one chapter, she investigates the impact of clothes donations—and reveals the uncomfortable realities of its effects on local economies. UNEARTH WOMEN

Tell us what you’re reading:  # U nearthWomen   # U nearthWomen



Morocco Photo by Luisa Puccini / Shutterstock

Photo by Fishers / Shutterstock

Argan Oil

Prickly Pear Seed Oil

Known to Moroccans for centuries, the antioxidants and fatty acids in argan oil

Prickly Pear Seed Oil thrives in its arid environment, and its magical seeds

work together to help stop inflammation and to protect and maintain skin elas-

contain a wonderfully balancing blend of skin-loving fatty acids that give skin

ticity, smoothness and radiance. Argan Oil provides a way for women to bond

and hair the refreshing hydration and protection it needs. Loli Beauty offers this

through the making of oil, and provide for their families. One of our favorite

beauty oil while supporting organic and ethical fair-trade practices in Morocco.

brands is Kahina Giving Beauty, which works to enhance the quality of life for Moroccan women and their communities by supporting local educational, environmental, agricultural and clean water initiatives.

Photo by Cdrin / Shutterstock

Be it the healing properties of Argan Oil or the exfoliating power of Rhassoul Clay, Morocco’s natural beauty secrets are coveted worldwide. To explore Morocco’s beauty trends, Unearth Women’s Beauty Director, Stephanie Flor, ventured to the land of spice and color to find beauty brands that are empowering local women.


n Morocco, beauty and skincare rituals begin at the hammam. The hammam—or bathhouse—is a place of gathering in Morocco where locals, especially women, can socialize and learn transgenerational rituals and beauty secrets from one another. Public bathhouses were popular during the height of the Roman Empire but vanished over time, with the tradition being kept alive in North African countries to this day. In Morocco, the practice of attending hammam is honored weekly, making these public bathhouses an essential part of the cultural landscape.



Moroccan hammams are typically divided into two or three levels of hot steam. Traditionally, the first level of the hammam is dedicated to the cleansing of oneself (it is here where deep scrubbing and exfoliation gives way to clear skin). In the hammam, steam is used to cleanse the pores, while Moroccan Black Soap (also known as Beldi soap) hydrates the skin. At the center of Morocco’s wellness practices are the locally sourced ingredients that define the country’s beauty traditions. From Argan Oil to Prickly Pear Seed Oil, the following beauty trends from Morocco both support Moroccan women and refresh your beauty regimen.

Photo by CalypsoArt / Shutterstock

Photo by picturepartners / Shutterstock

Rhassoul Clay

Beldi Soap

This superfine, ancient clay comes from deep below the Atlas Mountains

Beldi Soap, also known as Moroccan Black Soap, prepares the skin for

and has been used for centuries by the Berber women, an indigenous North

exfoliation. For a healthy, radiant and youthful glow you can purchase Beldi

African group. Rhassoul clay is rich in minerals and helps detoxify and gently

Soap from Sahara Rose, which empowers rural women cooperatives by donating

exfoliate the skin. Shea Moisture offers it as a beauty hack base with 10 percent

a portion of their proceeds to build a stronger and brighter future for

of sales going towards women-led businesses to support communities that

Moroccan girls.

supply ingredients for their products.




Germany’s Hidden Wine Country BY KAE LANI


traditional Bocksbeutel—the round bottles used that harken back to the winemaking monks of Franconia—have been redesigned with a sleek and more modern look to appease today’s wine drinkers. The most common Franconian wine is the Silvaner, a dry and slightly effervescent white wine guaranteed to surprise wine lovers expecting it to be sweet like their distant cousins Riesling and Gewürztraminer. For red wine drinkers, Frühburgunder, Pinot Noir, and Domina are among the other grape varieties that thrive in the sandstone soil unique to Franconia’s terroir. In Franconia, it’s not just the wine culture that makes the region’s past and present heritage so rich. Franconia is loaded with sites that are historically significant and yet maintain their cultural importance today. From Würzburg to Nuremberg Unearth Women shows you how to make the most of a visit to Germany’s wine region.

avaria is world renowned as the heart of Germany’s beer culture. It’s the region that first enacted the Reinheitsgebot, the German Beer Purity Law, which over 500 years later, is still the strict standard that most beer drinkers trust and traditionalist brewers uphold. But there’s a lesser-known tradition in Bavaria with roots deeper than that of German beer and a history that dates back over 1,000 years: Franconian wine. The Franconian wine region of Northern Bavaria—home to Germany’s most sought-after wines—has flown under the radar for quite some time. Most Germany-bound travelers will head south, straight to Munich, for a beer stein at the Hofbräuhaus, opt to cruise down the Main River or follow the Romantic Road, skipping over Franconia completely. What sets Franconia apart from other wine destinations is its historic winemaking, a distinguished tradition intentionally designed to adapt to modern taste and sensibility. Even the Photo by N. Nattalli




There’s a reason why Würzburg is one of the main stops along the Romantic Road, a route that weaves travelers through some of the most picturesque, fairytale villages that Germany has to offer. Standing on the Alte Mainbrücke with a glass of Silvaner, taking in views of the Marienberg Fortress overlooking a city filled with baroque buildings, it’s hard not to get caught up in the charm of it all. For centuries, the Marienberg Fortress, which sits on a hill high above the city, served as the residence for the prince-bishops who had both political power and religious influence over the people of Würzburg. In the mid-1700’s, the home of the prince-bishops was moved into the city to the Würzburger Residenz. Though much of the building was destroyed in bombings during World War II, visitors can still see some of the intricately painted frescoes and Venetian-style stucco work that earned the Würzburger Residenz its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Beneath the Würzburger Residenz, groups can tour the expansive tunnels and wine cellars, which dates back to 1128.



The center of any German town is

The Best Western Premier Hotel

the Rathaus or City Hall. Enjoying

Rebstock gives visitors easy access

a Silvaner and jagerschnitzel in

to downtown and is a quick

the heart of Würzburg couldn’t

walk from the scenic pedestrian

get more central than dining at

bridge, the Alte Mainbrücke, and

the Würzburger Ratskeller, which is

its wine bar, Mainwein Weinbistro

just below the Rathaus. For quint-

an der alten Mainbrücke.

essential Bavaria and Franconia food, the Backöfele offers local

The Best Western Premier

fare that’s just as authentic as the

Hotel Rebstock

restaurant’s vintage German décor.

Neubaustraße 7, 97070 Würzburg, Germany



Photo by leoks / Shutterstock



Bayreuth When you step into the wide, regal streets of Bayreuth it’s easy to see why it’s considered the cultural capital of Bavaria. Much of its baroque beauty is thanks to Princess Wilhelmina who became the Margravine of Bayreuth in the 18th century. With her rococo flair, Wilhelmina is responsible for constructing some of Bayreuth’s most celebrated buildings such as her palace, The New Castle, and the refurbishment of the Hermitage, a small palace outside the city center that she decorated with ornate ceiling paintings, stones, and seashells. Bayreuth is also the home of German composer, Richard Wagner, who settled in the city because of its prominent standing in the musical world. Visitors can see his home as well as immerse themselves in some of his stage works by attending an opera in the Festspielhaus. The jewel of Bayreuth is the Margravial Opera House, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that recently reopened its doors after six years of renovations. The perfectly preserved interior is carved entirely from wood and hand-painted to depict breathtaking symbols of the Holy Roman Empire. It’s a city with a long history and a deep appreciation for the arts that has rippled through the centuries.



Restaurant Oskar is set up like

You can’t get any closer to the

a traditional “wurst haus” and

Margravial Opera House than

specializes in German meats. For

staying next door at the Hotel

a traditional Franconian dish, try

Goldener Anker. This charming

the Fränkischer Sauerbraten,

boutique hotel is renovated to

a roast served in a creamy, sweet

fit in with the fancy and colorful

and tangy ginger sauce. The

style indicative of the city, but

Liebesbier restaurant attached to

comes with modern amenities.

the Maisel and Friends Brewery pairs modern gastropub dishes with craft beer brewed on site. And yes, though you can get a chocolate porter and a citrus flavored

Hotel Goldener Anker Opernstraße 6 95444 Bayreuth

ale, their beers do abide by the Germany Beer Purity Law.

For a quick bite on the go, grab

a Bayreuth sausage served in a roll with mustard at red stands throughout the city.



Photo by AndrijaP / Shutterstock



Nuremberg This centuries-old medieval city is the largest city in Franconia. The Kaiserburg Castle on the northern edge of the Altstadt was once the preferred residence of the German kings, making Nuremberg the undeclared capital of the Holy Roman Empire. The most iconic Nuremberg scene is that of the Hauptmarkt, the main market square where the famous Nuremberg Christmas Market is held. As the center of the spice trade in Europe during medieval times, Nuremberg served as a checkpoint where spices and other goods were inspected for authenticity. The name of the city quickly became synonymous with that of high quality, especially when it came to cuisine. Both the Nuremberg UNEARTH WOMEN


gingerbread and the Nuremberg bratwurst are distinguished by the European Union as ‘protected geographical heritage’. Underneath the city is the infamous Nuremberg tunnels used by Nazi soldiers as bunkers to stash Germany’s most precious works of art and artifacts including the Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire. But for 600 years prior to World War II, the subterranean world was used by brewers to ferment the city’s famous Rotbier. The Hausbrauerei Altstadthof, the oldest brewery in Nuremberg, has reopened its cellars, using them for their original purpose, but this time to make single malt whiskey.

WH ERE TO E AT Savor the traditional Nuremberger Bratwurst at the Bratwurstglöcklein, the purveyor responsible for the original recipe. Get a handson experience with Nuremberg gingerbread by taking a baking workshop at Wicklein,

WH ERE TO STAY The Sheraton Carlton Hotel of Nuremberg is a modern accommodation conveniently located just outside of the old city wall and next to the train station.

Author Bio Kae Lani is a travel writer, photographer, and videographer for USA Today

located next to the Hauptmarkt. For a traditional

Sheraton Carlton Hotel of Nuremberg

German meal of cured meats, local cheeses, and

Eilgutstrasse 15 Nuremberg,

of their newest venture, Eat Sip

homemade bread paired with German whiskeys

90443 Germany

Trip. She has shared her love of food

and a Rotbier, head to the Hausbrauerei Altstadthof.

10Best, Kae Lani is also the co-creator

and travel on live broadcasts and has appeared as a guest on Cheddar TV and NASDAQ.

Photo by Kae Lani




A Feminist City Guide to Buenos Aires BY KELLY LEWIS

Argentina has a long and somewhat complicated history with feminism. Despite a history of powerful women who have made national advancements in women’s equality—names you might recognize like Eva “Evita” Peron, Marquita Sanchez and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner—abortion remains illegal, and the rates of domestic violence and femicide are high. A 2016 study estimates that one woman is murdered in Argentina by her male partner every 30 hours. Because of this, new waves of feminists have organized grassroots campaigns and protests like “Ni Una Menos” (Not One [Woman] Less) to push the government to better protect women. If you’re traveling to Buenos Aires for the first time, you can help support women in Argentina by visiting these women-led stores, hotels and co-ops.



Colorful La Boca Photo by Diego Grandi / Shutterstock

WHAT TO SEE PL A ZA DE MAYO Commemorating the May revolution that began Argentina’s fight for independence from Spain, this famous plaza is often referred to as the political center of Buenos Aires. Plaza de Maya boasts a history rich with protests and has been a stage for those voicing their grievances and sparking revolution, among them the advancement and protection of women in the country. On one side of the plaza sits La Casa Rosada (the Presidential Palace), and on the other side is the Metropolitan Cathedral. Located at the intersection of Hipóloto Yrigoyen, Balcarce, Rivadavia and Bolivar streets. L A RECOLETA CEM ETARY Recoleta’s most popular attraction is a 14-acre cemetery filled to the brim with vaults (4,691 to be exact). Among them is the famous tomb of one of Argentina’s most notable figures, Eva Peron. Evita founded the Female Peronist Party in the late 1940s, which pushed for the rights of women to vote and run for office. The party also set up the country’s first wave of female clinics, which were established in poor neighborhoods to provide women access to medical, legal and social care. Junin 1760. 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Free. TE ATRO COLÓN Known worldwide for its exceptional acoustics and the artistic value of its construction, Teatro Colón turned 100 years old in 2008. Recently renovated and in pristine condition, tours of the theater are worth the nearly 60 pesos. That being said, sometimes you can find tickets for shows at around 90 pesos, and it’s worth the difference. Make a night of it and experience this incredible space through the performances it hosts. Cerrito 628,, G R AFFITI TOU R Graffiti Mundo is a 100 percent women-owned and operated non-profit tour company that helps you discover some of the city’s best street art, which has often helped shape politics in the country. $20-$35 USD, MALBA This beautiful and modern museum opened in 2001, and has the Costantini Collection on permanent display. It also prides itself in being a dynamic cultural center with constantly revolving and changing art, film and cultural exhibitions, many created by women. LIBERIA DE M UJ ERES Buenos Aires is home to the only feminist bookstore in Argentina and it’s worth a visit, their documentation center has over 8,000 works pertaining to the advancement of women. Passage Rodolfo Rivarola, 142-CP (1089) – Tel +54 11 4372 5930. Open Mon-Friday 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday 11-6 p.m.



Plaza del Mayo Photo by Diego Grandi / Shutterstock





Falena book store and wine spot Photo by Falena

French style architecture in the Recoleta neighborhood where the Recoleta Grand is located Photo by Jess Kraft / Shutterstock







A woman-owned bookstore that doubles as a wine

A plant-based restaurant opened by famous

An upscale restaurant created and led by award-

This is one of the few hostels that really puts an

It’s hard to go wrong with fresh-squeezed orange

For a more upscale option, stay at the Recoleta

spot, which also occasionally hosts great workshops

Argentine chef, Narda Lepes, features creative

winning female chef, Soledad Nardelli, the

emphasis on minimizing their impact on the

juice at breakfast, free-international phone calls and

Grand, just a short walk away from the

held in a dreamy space.

recipes inspired by Narda’s travels throughout

first woman to be named “Chef of the Future.” They

environment, with solar-powered lighting, recycled

a stellar rooftop terrace. PAX is located on a well

Recoleta Cemetery. This comfortable property is

Argentina and the world. Mariscal Antonio José de

only offer one tasting menu and one vegetarian

fixtures and antique furniture, and low waste

lit street that is police patrolled in the increasingly

a wonderful place from which to explore this

Sucre 664.

menu, but you’re guaranteed to be delighted at the

toilets. Additionally, Eco Pampa has a rooftop terrace

popular San Telmo district. They offer competitive

quiet, romantic neighborhood.

inventive dishes that come your way.

and are located in the heart of Palermo, a popular

prices, regular events and a friendly and knowledgeable

neighborhood in Buenos Aires.






SAFETY & SECURITY As with any big city, it is a good idea to always carry as little as possible, guard your possessions and keep your eyes peeled. Buenos Aires known for pick-pocketing and robberies. Electronics are a major target for thieves, so limit your camera use in shady areas. If you have to walk at night, try not to walk for long distances and don’t go out alone. If you can, avoid areas like La Boca, Retiro and Once at night. If you ever feel unsafe, hop in one of the taxis available all over the city.

WATCH OUT Near Retiro, there is an increasingly common tactic in which someone pours something onto your bag from above. When you remove your bag to clean it off, two older women and a young man (generally) will offer to help and will make off running with your bag.

In general, if anything feels off or if someone rushes up

to you and seems overly friendly, better to politely decline, hold onto your belongings, and carry on your way.

Traveling at night: Argentines eat and party late (it is not

uncommon for dinner to start between 10 and 11 p.m.) and because of this, moving around at night is a must.

Fortunately, public transport (colectivos) and taxis are

available all night long.

When going out at night, take only the minimum

amount needed in your purse, and always tuck an additional 200 pesos in a bra, sock, or undergarment just in case.

Author Bio An entrepreneur at heart, Kelly Lewis is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Unearth Women. Kelly is also the Founder of Go! Girl Guides, the founder of the annual Women’s Travel Fest—a sold-out consumer travel event for women who love to travel—and Damesly, a tour company for professional and creative women.



Detail from colorful facade from Caminito in La Boca Photo by Goran Bogicevic / Shutterstock



A Taste Trip to Uzbekistan’s National Dish

Uzbek cuisine, like Uzbekistan, is a veritable melting pot of cultural influence. At the center of the country’s rich food scene is the deeply loved, signature dish of Plov.




1. Wash and soak the rice in cold tap water.


6. Add the rice that has been soaking on top

of the meat and carrot layer in the cooking pot,

SEPAR ATED FROM THE BONE 2. Heat the oil in the cooking pot over a high

flame and deep fry the meat until it is golden brown. Take the meat out and put to one side. 3. Fry the onions until they are golden and then

add the meat again, as well as the carrots.

and then cover contents with 2cm depth of boiling water. Boil it gently until the rice has completely absorbed the water. Be careful it doesn’t burn on the bottom. 7. Reduce the heat and cover the pot with a lid.

Allow the plov to steam for 20 minutes. If


Heat for 20 minutes (stirring frequently) or until


Add the cumin.

the heat entirely.

4. Reduce heat and add water to cover the carrots

8. Remove the garlic bulbs and chilies and put

and meat. Leave it to gently simmer for one

them to one side. Gently mix the contents


the carrots are soft and slightly caramelized.

hour or until most of the water has evaporated.

you think it might be catching, remove it from

of the cooking pot and serve on a large serving plate with the garlic bulbs decorating it.

5. Place the whole bulbs of garlic on the top of the

meat and carrots.



Enjoy with a tomato and onion salad, flatbread and a pot of freshly brewed black tea.

zbekistan—a former republic of the Soviet Union up until 1991—is a confluence of Persian and Russian culture. Uzbekistan has always taken influence from other nations due to its geographical location on the historic Silk Route where spices, goods, and local traditions converged. To take a trip to Uzbekistan today is to discover a wealth of history resting in ancient cities like Samarkand, the Islamic schools of Registan Square (once a site for public trials and executions), or en route aboard a Soviet steam train



Photo by MediaFetish/Shutterstock

from Tashkent to the once bustling trading hub of Bukhara. In a country that can often fall in the shadows of its neighbors or be overlooked altogether, the Uzbek people have a deep well of national pride reflected in the traditions they carry. One such tradition is the national dish, Plov. Plov is an oily, rice-based meal that combines meat with grated carrots, roasted garlic and onions. Sophie Ibbotson, author of The Brandt Travel Guide to Uzbekistan, brings Uzbek flavors to your kitchen with a recipe for making Plov at home.




On the Front Lines with Isobel Yeung Just days after returning from assignment in Syria, Isobel Yeung—an award-winning reporter–sits down with our Editor-in-Chief to talk candidly about reporting on women’s issues for the Emmy-winning show, VICE on HBO.


Photo for VICE on HBO




emorial Day morning at the VICE offices in Brooklyn and the normally bustling newsroom is eerily empty, showing just details of an edgy, award-winning media organization that is known for pushing the boundaries of journalism. An unblinking neon sign proudly displays the company’s namesake, a wood-paneled bar suggests afternoon happy hours, a stunning, wildflower-covered rooftop with an enviable view of the Manhattan skyline comes into focus. Just then, the front door swings open and in rushes Isobel Yeung, an on-air reporter for VICE HBO and Vice News Tonight who has reported from countries such as Syria and Afghanistan. With a widely recognized face and prolific career, Yeung’s reputation precedes her. Yeung’s work has earned her an Emmynomination, Gracie Award and Front Page Award for her reportage on Afghan women’s rights back in 2016. When working for an organization that boasts the slogan “Journalism Without the Makeup,” it should come as no surprise that Yeung walks into the room looking as if she has just walked off camera. There is that same fresh face, those same curious eyes, that same swept up hairstyle that I’ve seen reflected back at me countless times on television. With her trailblazing journalism, Yeung is a tour de force who continues to pave the way for women in a field that can oft fall victim to the patriarchy. Originally from the UK, Yeung moved to China after graduating college and landed her first media job at a state-run news organization in Shanghai. Her first media job inspired Yeung’s ambition to become a serious journalist and shy away from the sort of spoon-fed stories unfolding at the organization she worked. Yeung saw an opportunity to shine a light on the many underreported stories unfolding in China and made the bold decision to quit her job and begin freelancing full time. With her knack for storytelling and a keen eye for spotting compelling narratives, Yeung began pitching editorial and broadcast stories to publications such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, and VICE. “With VICE it’s a really interesting platform because you’re able to tell these long-form stories and give them the time that they deserve, so it felt like a natural fit. I always wanted to work for VICE,” remembers Yeung. In 2014, Yeung’s efforts were realized when VICE offered her a job in New York City. Just a year later, Yeung would go on to become an on-air correspondent for the Emmy-award winning VICE HBO show.

IR AQ correspondent Isobel Yeung walks with the Badr Brigade, a shia militia, searching for ISIS fighters in one of the last ISIS strongholds in Iraq. Photo for VICE on HBO








VICE correspondent Isobel Yeung goes on patrol with a UN battalion in Unity State, South Sudan.

VICE correspondent Isobel Yeung in the destroyed city of Homs.

Photo for VICE on HBO

Photo for VICE on HBO




In the wake of the #MeToo movement, it should be noted that VICE faced criticism for their hyper-masculine ‘bro-culture,’ which in 2017 culminated in the firing of three high-level employees faced with sexual harassment allegations. Since then, the company has made vast improvements and hired a female CEO, Nancy Dubuc, to replace Founder Shane Smith, who is now Executive Chairman. For Yeung, the changes at the VICE headquarters are promising as women are now being hired into senior positions, while the emphasis on female-led stories is being prioritized. “I’ve done a number of stories on women’s rights around the world this season on VICE and none of them have been a battle to get greenlit, which has been refreshing,” Yeung says. Whether reporting on female incarceration in the United States or women’s rights in Afghanistan, Yeung is often drawn to stories that are either forgotten or entirely neglected by the mainstream media. “The fact is that unfortunately in this world, women are still often the most vulnerable, the most underrepresented, and those who aren’t given a sufficient voice,” explains Yeung. “I want to give light and color and depth to women’s stories because more often than not, women are presented as the victims and the truth is a lot more complex than that.” Take the Yemeni women, for example. A few months ago, Yeung returned from an assignment where she was reporting on women’s rights in Yemen for a story tentatively titled “The Badass Babes of Yemen.” Focus on the Yemeni people had all but fallen off, leaving the country’s Forgotten War out of headlines and largely abandoned by major media outlets. When Yemen did make headlines, the focus was on the general suffering of the Yemeni people. Yeung—who has said she is fascinated by what happens to humanity in the most extreme of circumstances—was drawn to the unreported story of Yemen’s women. “Women have lost a lot of male relatives and family members in the war, but that’s led to women taking on surprising roles that they weren’t able to previously,” says Yeung. “Women are becoming the breadwinners of Yemeni society and are making the country work. Anything you see functioning in Yemen is largely due to women. They’re now involved in the military, they’re involved in protesting, they’re able to step into these interesting roles where you can see this resilience and strength in women that is not expected in the most conservative society in the world.”



Photo by Amanda Suarez



“The fact is that unfortunately in this world, women are still often the most vulnerable, the most underrepresented, and those who aren’t given a sufficient voice,”

As Yeung and I speak, I am struck by how humble she is about her work. To an outside observer, it seems Yeung has scaled the mountain of journalism and positioned herself in the pantheon of female reporters we’ve come to admire. This woman before me has sat opposite ISIS fighters, has walked the streets of war-torn Syria, has spent a night in prison for the sake of telling a story about female incarceration, rather than just report the facts. Yet, despite her accolades, Yeung is still paving a path for herself in an industry where, according to a 2017 Women’s Media Center Report, men snag 62 percent of bylines and have received 84 percent of the last century’s Pulitzer Prizes. When all is said and done, the world of media is still a male-dominated one and Yeung is still distilled down to just a “female reporter.”



Photo by Amanda Suarez

“I think that I’m the same as my male colleagues, adds Yeung. “It’s not surprising to me that I’m a female and that I’m doing these stories, I think that’s the least surprising part of me doing this job. You don’t say “oh, there’s a male war reporter” you just say “he’s a reporter.” So, it annoys me when people say I’m a female reporter.” Whatever the nomenclature, Yeung admits there are advantages to being a woman in her line of work. “I think you’re able to tell different stories by virtue of being a woman. In some places you’re underestimated so you’re able to get access to things that men couldn’t or you’re able to occupy spaces that men wouldn’t be able to,” explains Yeung. “As a woman, you’re able to get access to a greater depth of society.” Yeung, who returned from Syria a few days prior to our



Photo by Amanda Suarez

interview, speaks excitedly of her VICE segment that explores the recovering city of Raqqa, now free from ISIS control. “Syria is just an incredible country that really shifts things into perspective,” says Yeung. “The first time I went in 2016 and saw people going about their daily lives in the most horrific of circumstances was an incredibly humbling realization for me of what matters in life.“ For Yeung, whose family is back in London, it is the simple pleasures in life—cooking Chinese food, spending time with friends, maintaining a routine and her passion for work—that keeps her sane. As the sun pokes through the clouds outside the VICE windows, we are reminded that a holiday is underfoot. All around the city, New Yorkers are celebrating the unofficial start of summer UNEARTH WOMEN

with outdoor barbecues, daytime drinks and weekend getaways; while in the VICE offices, Yeung works diligently on editing her latest segment. The true meaning of Memorial Day—a holiday meant to celebrate soldiers who gave their lives in the fight for freedom—can often elude us as it is distilled down to nothing more than a day for sunscreen and hot dogs. But perhaps the fight for freedom is more than a soldier; perhaps it’s the women in Yemen holding up their society, the people of Raqqa recovering from ISIS, and the journalists who risk their lives to bring those stories to light. And with that final thought, I watch Isobel Yeung effortlessly fling her backpack over one shoulder and disappear into the bowels of the VICE media organization, already on to her next story.


Photo by Amanda Suarez



The Black Mambas Meet the Fearless Women Fighting to Save South Africa’s Rhino


Photo by James Suter




“We’re fighting for our animals and showing people that women can be beautiful and also strong. It’s important for women all over South Africa.”


he South African bush throbs with masculinity as male guides strut about in khaki shorts and hiking boots, rifle balanced in one hand and binoculars in the other. In areas beset by poaching, soldiers lurk menacingly in camouflage behind the wheel of bullet-proof Jeeps, while helicopters swoop in from above searching for hunters. Right in the heart of this male-dominated world is a group of women who are quietly turning the tide on the devastating wave of poaching sweeping across South Africa’s reserves. Nicknamed the ‘Black Mambas'—after the country’s deadliest snake—this paramilitary unit has been recruited from villages around Kruger National Park to keep the area’s animals safe from the illegal wildlife trade. Now numbering 36, up from just six in 2013 when the Black Mambas were formed, these women carry no guns, and yet have proved more successful at deterring poachers than many of their military-grade rivals. The Black Mambas are the eyes and ears of the armed tactical response units, which are largely made up of ex-soldiers, and they rely on their intuition rather than brute strength and weaponry when fighting poachers. Their formation couldn’t come at a more opportune time. By the 1970s, the ivory trade had grown to such an extent that elephants faced the risk of extinction, but crackdowns on smuggling combined with the education of consumers reduced demand in the West and Japan to a manageable amount by the year 2000. Then poaching exploded. In the last five years alone, 150,000 elephants are estimated to have been killed across Africa. While there is still a sizeable ivory trade in the United States, it is China and Vietnam’s burgeoning middle class that UNEARTH WOMEN

have been the root cause behind the increase. “3,500 years ago, ivory held a special place in Chinese culture,” explains Alex Hofford, a representative for WildAid, an environmental organization based in San Francisco. “The first carvings were mostly religious in nature with ivory becoming a commodity associated with the priestly classes, but the ivory in those days was taken from natural mortality and only supplied to the Emperor and nobles. Today, a massive growing middle class of newly rich Chinese all want ivory, and industrial-scale poaching became the only way to satisfy that demand. We are talking about gunning down entire herds of elephants by wellequipped militias in helicopters who then use chainsaws to hack off elephant heads and get at their tusks.” Rhinos, meanwhile, have been hunted to virtual extinction in East Africa for their horns, which are made of keratin, the same substance found in hair and fingernails. China and Vietnam endow rhino horn with fantastic properties, such as the ability to cure cancer and hangovers, thereby increasing the value of an entire horn to an estimated $65,000 USD. Gram for gram, rhino horns are now worth more than gold or cocaine, which is why slaughtered rhinos are now a regular sight in South Africa. Stepping into this fraught world are the Black Mambas, who patrol the Balule Nature Reserve, a 50,000-hectare private concession that has been targeted by local and international armed gangs from neighboring Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Balule is set in the heart of Mpumalanga, a province in northeast South Africa that is estimated to be home to more than 60 percent of the world’s wild rhino, making the reserve a major target for poaching.


Photo by James Suter





Photo by James Suter



I arrive at Balule Nature Reserve on a warm winter day in a tiny propeller plane from Johannesburg. Balule Nature Reserve borders the Kruger Park and is an idyll of rainbow-strewn scenery and extraordinary amounts of buffalo, lion, and packs of endangered wild dogs. This abundance of wildlife is partly due to the tireless work of the Black Mambas, whose efforts have reduced snaring in Balule by 76 percent over the past two years. I arrive at their dusty headquarters in the late afternoon sunshine to have tea and rusks—a South African style biscuit—with these warrior women before they set off on their daily patrol. As I walk onto the sunny terrace, I’m hit by a wall of chatter in Zulu and Shangaan, the two languages predominantly spoken in the surrounding areas. I am welcomed first by Felicia Mogakane, one of the group's founding members, whose scarlet nails and sleek cornrows look noticeably urbane against her immaculate camouflage uniform. “Before we joined this group, nobody believed women could fight against poaching as this was a man’s world,” Mogakane tells me softly while biting into a rusk. "Everyone was saying, 'what are they thinking? Women cannot do work such as this, this is a man's job, it’s too dangerous.' But we have proved them wrong. Since we've started the Black Mambas anti-poaching project, there are no poachers in our reserve.” The room fizzes with a palpable pride and passion at Mogakane’s words, and soon the other Black Mambas start clamoring to tell me of their achievements. “I’m happy to be on this team. It’s important to protect the nature for our children and grandchildren, and my community is proud we’re doing this job because they know we’re making a difference,” says Mandize, another Black Mamba. “We’re fighting for our animals and showing people that women can be beautiful and also strong. It’s important for women all over South Africa.” I was first introduced to the Black Mambas by another one of Africa’s pioneering female conservationists, Greta Iori. Raised in Addis Ababa by her Ethiopian mother and Italian father, Iori now travels the continent advising national parks and government boards on how to fight wildlife crime. Iori's entire career was sparked by a dissertation she wrote on the Black Mambas when they first formed back in 2013. “I decided to research the Black Mambas when I realized they shed a light on the incredibly complex but vital aspects of community dynamics,” Iori told me one day over coffee in Addis Ababa. “When poachers are men from the same village or community circles as the Mambas, the Mambas became the most effective intelligence gathering individuals–far more than soldiers or male rangers–as not only are they aware of potential intrusions, but they also naturally deter poaching in the reserve because poachers don’t want to interfere with the sources of income from the women in their community. It made me realize the power harnessing women could have on anti-poaching.”



Photo by Jonathan Pledger



“I believe the Black Mambas urgently need to be replicated across protected areas and in all communities that are affected by poaching. Creating all-women teams really could increase our chances of saving these wild animals.”



Photo by James Suter



Iori, who lectures around the globe on how to fight rhino and elephant poaching, believes that all-female units are one of the few unexamined solutions to a problem that many people in the conservation community are finding unsolvable. “I believe the Black Mambas urgently need to be replicated across protected areas and in all communities that are affected by poaching,” says Iori. “Creating all-women teams really could increase our chances of saving these wild animals.” Poachers are generally used to responding to violence with more violence, but these women, who carry no guns, have what can only be described as diplomatic immunity in the poaching arena, and are very rarely shot at by gangs. Back in the dusty South African bush, the women unanimously agree that they need to remain unarmed. “We want to be different from the poachers,” says one younger Black Mamba named Joy. “Our goal isn’t to kill poachers, it’s to save rhinos. If we come face-to-face with a poacher, we can use our walkie-talkies to call for backup.” With that, tea time is over. A few of the women whip out their compacts to re-apply their lipstick, check their hair, or throw a jacket over their uniforms as the winter chill begins to descend. As the Black Mambas climb into their Jeep, the radio crackles to life with a suspicious sighting being called in from the park's far boundary. The chatter stops. The women crane their heads to listen and then spring into action. Dust swirls around the Mopani trees as the Black Mambas and their Jeep thunder down the dirt road, carrying a group of wonder women with a mission to help the animals of Africa live as they always have: free from human interference.

Author Bio Melissa Twigg is a travel and fashion journalist who was born in South Africa and brought up in London. She spent her twenties living in Paris, Cape Town and Hong Kong. She recently returned to the UK, where she now lives in Islington and writes for publications including Vogue, The Sunday Times and CNN.



Photo by The Black Mambas APU


A Mysterious Murder in the Mountains of Colombia BY NIKKI VARGAS

Here is what I know for sure: my great aunt, Adita, was kidnapped from her home one morning in Colombia about 10 years ago. Hours later, she was found dead on the side of a dusty road in the nearby mountains of Santa Marta. UNEARTH WOMEN


“Throughout my life —whether warranted or not— I had considered FARC the metaphorical ‘big, bad wolf ’ that was behind every misfortune my family had.”


he violent murder of Adita is one shrouded in mystery. Her kidnappers were mysteriously killed before questioning and no one was ever charged with her death. Some say she was killed on the side of the road and then set aflame (a gruesome version of the story I had grown up with). Others say Adita was killed in her home, rolled up in a carpet and dumped in the mountains. The theories surrounding why she was murdered are even more nuanced. I hadn’t been to Bogota—my birthplace—in over a decade but after years of wondering about Adita’s murder, I decided to fly to Colombia to trace my family’s past and learn about the people I believed were guilty: the FARC. The FARC or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia were a narco-terrorist organization that was formed back in 1964 by Manuel Marulanda. The FARC started in earnest as a political movement founded on Marxist ideologies but over time began using criminal means to finance their war. At its peak, FARC controlled roughly 40 percent of Colombia. Using narco-trafficking, kidnapping, and taxing of UNEARTH WOMEN

the local people, FARC was able to finance their military operations and bring in an estimated $600 million USD annually. According to Colombia Reports, the FARC was considered the third richest terrorist organization after ISIS. Recruiting from small indigenous communities, more than 11,000 FARC fighters joined the guerrilla movement as minors, while more than a third of the FARC fighters were reportedly women. Throughout my life—whether warranted or not—I had considered FARC the metaphorical ‘big, bad wolf’ that was behind every misfortune my family had. I blamed the FARC for my uncle’s kidnapping when he one day left his work at the Colombian embassy in Bogota, was taken to a field, stripped of his belongings and then held at gunpoint. I blamed FARC for what happened to my grandfather who, in his heyday, was one of the top plastic surgeons in the country, before he began receiving kidnapping threats from the guerrillas and fled to the United States. I blamed FARC for the death of my great aunt, Adita.


In November 2016, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed a historic peace agreement with the FARC that transformed this narco-terrorist group into a recognized political party with guaranteed seats in the Colombian Congress and Senate. Meanwhile, more than 7,000 FARC fighters would begin their transition from the jungles to the city by undergoing a government-funded reintegration program. The peace deal—which was originally voted against by the majority of Colombians—has drawn intense criticism for its leniency towards the FARC, creating a passionate debate of what is more paramount for Colombia: obtaining justice or having peace. More than 200,000 people have been killed and nearly 7 million displaced by the violence that unfolded in Colombia. Whether a direct result of the FARC or other criminal organizations in the country—such as ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional or the National Liberation Army)—the scars of the country’s war run deep.

I don’t remember Adita. Having met her long before the age of 10, details of her elude me—as do most of my memories of my time spent living in Bogota. What I do recall is the summer of 2004, when my father decided to send me to Colombia to spend a few months with my great aunt. About a week before my arrival, my dad received a rather unusual email from my great aunt that simply read: “Do not send Nicole down here.” A few days later Adita was dead. While in Colombia, years later, I sat down one evening in Bogota with Margarita, one of Adita’s daughters, to ask her about her mother and my great aunt. With her short blonde hair, loose white top and friendly smile, Margarita began to paint a picture of her mother. Adita was a dentist and a painter who lived on the beaches of Santa Marta on Colombia’s coast, where her husband’s family owned a massive plot of farmland, passed down from generation to generation. The land, which was used for crops, cotton, and cattle, was eventually overtaken by guerillas. The guerrillas invaded the property and began selling it off to other buyers, illegally financing their activities. The result is a convoluted, excessively complicated legal mess where landowners who had purchased sections of the land from the guerrillas (who did not own the rights to sell it) were all of a sudden at a financial loss. Adita’s husband—a lawyer in his own right— attempted to get his family’s land back through legal means; but with the guerrillas long gone, it became a battle between his family (the rightful landowners) and the people who had purchased the land from the insurgents. In short, things became complicated and, in Colombia, that often can equate to violence. Adita’s husband had managed to sift through the sea of paperwork to legally re-obtain his land, but now faced the daunting task of physically delivering eviction notices to the people who currently occupied it. Margarita’s father was threatened, shot and did not return to the family’s farm again.

“That was the time that the guerrilla were very strong, in the nineties,” explained Margarita. “[My father] could never go back to the farm because he was afraid.” After Adita’s husband and Margarita’s father passed away, Adita decided to resume her husband’s work to retrieve the family’s land. According to Margarita, one of the buyers illegally occupying their property was a wealthy, albeit aggressive man who was extremely unhappy at the prospect of a financial loss. “I was talking with [my mother] and she told me she was trying to talk with that man and that they were going to agree on something soon,” recalls Margarita. A few days later, Margarita received a call from the Santa Marta police that her mother was found dead, on the side of the road. This is where the theories begin to swirl as to what exactly happened to Adita. My dad believes that the FARC may have had Adita killed for her attempts to get the land back from them. Margarita thinks perhaps this wealthy landowner may have hired local thugs to “rough Adita up” in an effort to deter her from taking the land back, only for things to be taken too far. “When she was in her apartment very early in the morning, the kidnappers opened the door and kidnapped her, using her own car,” described Margarita. “[The kidnappers] then took her to the mountains near Santa Marta—maybe to ask her to give them the papers to own the land—but when they were driving, [my mother] jumped out of the car and they followed her and killed her with a very big rock.” Margarita vividly remembers having to identify her mother’s body, noting the trauma to her head. It seems there is no doubt as to how my great aunt was murdered, but the reason as to why still remains shrouded in mystery. The wealthy landowner was never questioned, the kidnappers turned up mysteriously dead and just like that, Adita’s death was swept under the rug like so many others in Colombia. I asked Margarita whether she blamed FARC for her mother’s death. While they may not have been directly responsible, FARC guerrillas were the catalyst. After all, had they never invaded her family’s land would any of the resulting violence have happened? “Some people here in Colombia do whatever they want,” answered Margarita after some thought. “The laws are so soft and there is no punishment.” On my last day in Bogota, I found myself on the outskirts of the city in Barrio Sur—a rundown slum with dusty roads and crumbling buildings. Stray dogs wandered languidly across the street as my car pulled up in front of a nondescript white building with wrought iron windows. The door swung open and I was promptly greeted by a security guard who checked my bags before leading me upstairs to a conference room where a young woman, age 30, sat. Flora—who preferred a pseudonym be used—is an exFARC fighter who left the jungles of Colombia seven months before my visit. At this precarious, political time, Flora has been undergoing a reintegration process that slowly prepares her for civilian life in the city. Sitting across from a member of FARC, I did my best to



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“Many young people decided to enter into the FARC because they didn’t have other opportunities, It was normal for my community to make this transition from their families to the guerrilla groups.”

“Everything I heard about Samarkand is true, except that it’s more beautiful than I ever imagined.” Alexander the Great, 329 BC

leave my personal biases and emotions at the door. I tried not to think of my family and instead tried to understand what would compel someone to join a terrorist organization. With red-purple highlights framing her face, Flora began to tell me how she joined FARC just shy of age 14 in an effort to save her parents the financial burden of supporting her education. Making no mention of agreeing with the FARC’s Marxist ideologies or intent to overthrow the government, Flora joined FARC simply because the group promised her food, security, and shelter at a time when her family couldn’t afford it. “Many young people decided to enter into the FARC because they didn’t have other opportunities,” said Flora. “It was normal for my community to make this transition from their families to the guerrilla groups.” Flora’s life—like so many other child recruits who joined the FARC—unfolded under the shaded canopies of Colombia’s jungles. Flora got her first period, fell in love, lost her virginity and even had her first child in the jungle (whom she had to give up shortly after birth to a family member due to strict rules against having children in the FARC). Only now, 14 years Kalpak Travel — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan — Group & Private Tours +41 78 657 27 01 — —

later, Flora is beginning to build a relationship with her daughter, thanks to the peace deals and reintegration efforts. “If my own child thinks I’m a monster, it’s easy to understand why the rest of the society thinks FARC is the worst, are terrorists and murder people,” said Flora. “[Reintegration] is a process.” By the time I left Bogota, I was no clearer on my great aunt’s death or who is to blame for it. Theories unraveled at the seams, questions went unanswered and everything remained in the grey area that seems to envelop my homeland. There is a term that locals use to describe the chaos of Colombia: Locombia, which combines the words loco, or crazy, with Colombia. Whether it’s a young girl being inducted into an army before the age of 14, young men being paid to kidnap a woman without question only for them to turn up dead or my great aunt being murdered for trying to take back what was rightfully hers; there is no rhyme or reason to Locombia.

This story, reported by Nikki Vargas, was originally published on the digital blog, Culture Trip, in November 2017.





As a professional photographer, I have now taken four trips to India, traveling through different states and regions for several months at a time. One of the most wonderful parts of being a solo female photographer in India has been the access I have had to different women, the opportunities I have had to take their portraits and the honor I’ve had to visually share their stories. Women’s rights in India are undoubtedly complex and differ dramatically as you travel around the country. In Delhi, women are acquiring their rights by speaking out on sexual harassment and gaining power through their education. Some 2,000 kilometers away in the Meghalaya state, the rights of women are stronger as the Khasi people have a historical matrilineal society and are born into a position of power. Through this photo series, I hope to show the beautiful diversity of women's lives in India. It is my hope that through the power of portraiture, I can debunk the reputation that all women in India look and are the same. UNEARTH WOMEN



Kolkata, West Bengal Kolkata is one of India’s most vibrant destinations, yet male-dominated cities in India. In the backstreets of Chinatown, I spotted this lone woman donning vibrant colors that contrast against the dull, beige streets.

Majuli Island, Assam In Assam state, in the far northwest corner of the country close to the Burmese border, Majuli Island is the world’s largest river island, although it is quickly shrinking due to climate change. The island is a hub of arts, and this woman works as a potter alongside other women in her village.





Brahma-dung-chung Ani Gompa, Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh Tawang, a valley in the northwest of India in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, is known for its large monastery, which is the second largest in the world. Nearby, the small and modest Brahma-dung-Chung Ani Gompa houses around 40 nuns. This nun, Tenzin, was kind enough to show us around. The heritage of the people of the Tawang Valley stems from Tibet, and her face carries the same grace and kindness I have found in so many other Tibetans.





Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh In Tawang, the majority of the population are compromised of the Monpa tribe, a group which lives between Tibet, Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh in India. The Monpa have many of their own customs and beliefs, separate from the rest of India. Pictured here are women leaving their village in traditional garments while carrying a pot of Arra wine, an alcoholic drink made up of rice wine and melted butter.





Pushkar, Rajasthan While in India, I spent several weeks photographing camels and their herders at the Pushkar Camel Fair. While there, I fell in love with the women of the fair who proved vibrant, beautiful and ethereal, hailing from gypsy villages in the Thar Desert. This photograph was taken at a local dance competition.





Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu In South India, Tamil Nadu is one of India's most traditional Hindu states. At the annual Pongal Harvest festival, a troop of dancers was hired to perform at a small village outside of Mahabalipuram to present stories from the Vedas to the local children. This woman played Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, power and fortune.





Thar Desert, Rajasthan This photograph was taken in a remote village a few miles from the border of Pakistan in the Thar Desert, a large arid region in the West of Rajasthan. Pictured here is a local woman whom I had met during a henna session, in which she wrote her name on my arm to serve as a lasting reminder of our meeting.

Author Bio Annapurna Mellor is a travel photographer and writer based in Manchester, UK. Her work can be seen in National Geographic Traveller, Lonely Planet Magazine, The Guardian and in campaigns for travel brands around the world. Much of her personal work focuses on people and culture, and she has a particular fascination for India and the sub-continent.







Think feminism and Gloria Steinem’s iconic face comes to mind. For more than 30 years, the vivacious 84-year-old has been demonstrating, campaigning, educating, advising and fighting for women’s rights around the world. Back in 1957, Steinem was a young woman fresh out of Smith College and venturing to India for the first time. The next two years spent in India would profoundly shape Steinem, and inspire much of her future activism. Steinem would apply Mahatma Gandhi’s organizing principles to American feminism, would visit villages cordoned off by local government and connect with Indian women. Unearth Women has the privilege to re-publish one of Steinem’s early works from this life-altering period in her life. Below—in Steinem’s own words—we get a glimpse into the mindset of young Gloria during her first visit to India as a Western Woman. Gloria Steinem back in 1957 during her first visit to India Provided by the Office of Gloria Stinem



“At an evening of discussion, I could listen to the men as they talked of politics and philosophy, yet I could also meet the little old grandmother who stayed in the kitchen to prepare Bengali sweets.”

The Delhi Sunday where Steinem’s story appeared in 1957 Provided by the Office of Gloria Stinem


here is a theory among Western employers, governments and fellowship committees that it is better to send a single man to Asian countries than a single woman. Now I know all the conventional arguments against hiring women but when, other things being equal, a woman is not sent for the sole reason that it is Asia to which she would go (“Too difficult for a woman to adjust out there—roughing it and all that, you know”), then I object. The fact is this: it is easier, safer, happier and more rewarding for a Western woman to live, at least in India, than it is for a Western man. I first began to think about this when I met, after four months in India, a young American journalist who had been here for an equal time, yet knew few Indians or Indian family customs well, for he had been invited to no Indian home, wedding or personal festivity. I, on the other hand, had attended at UNEARTH WOMEN

least six weddings (I arrived in the middle of what was, astrologically speaking, a good marriage season) and had been cordially invited to friends’ homes for everything from a meal to a month. At first, I supposed the difference was due to his position as a wandering journalist and mine as a student in a hostel but after eight months, I have witnessed enough other instances to convince me—it’s twice as easy for a woman to come to know India as for a man. Mostly, it is because she has a double advantage. As a Western woman, she is expected to have more freedom in traveling, talking with men, and going to social and professional gatherings. Yet, because she is a woman, she is privileged to know the distaff side of India too—to go freely into homes, sit with the women and participate in all the domestic routine and ceremony, which is, in any society, a great part of tradition and


culture. Even if a man is invited to these functions, a woman, once there, has an advantage. For instance, at a Hindu wedding, I could meet the bridegroom and talk with him about politics, his trip abroad and future plans, yet I could also sit up all night with the shy bride as her friends helped her with the intricate and lovely preparations. At an evening of discussion, I could listen to the men as they talked of politics and philosophy, yet I could also meet the little old grandmother who stayed in the kitchen to prepare Bengali sweets. Such instances, large and small, are many, but there are other ways in which women have the advantage. Take, for example, the business of clothes. The change from Western to Eastern clothing cannot but bring about a subtle change in the way you move and think, for suddenly you are less of an outsider and far closer to understanding the similarly


clothed figures around you. How much easier, natural and more graceful for a woman to adopt the sari, Indian jewelry and flowers in her hair than for a Western man to attempt dhotis, lungies or achkans. And the sari is a psychology in itself. It means standing straighter, walking more slowly, worrying less about such things as time and efficiency. And when at a wedding or in a village, one sits with covered head, it brings a looking-out-at-the-world sense of security and community with Indian women. All this plus details of convenience and safety such as seats in buses being served first, special traveling accommodation, and generally more courteous concern. Yes, it does seem that a Western woman can come to know and be a part of India with much more ease than a man.



On Life and Recovery After Being Held Captive in Somalia BY NIKKI VARGAS

When I first met Amanda Lindhout one crisp winter day in New York City, it was hard for me to reconcile the image of her with the story splashed across the pages of her New York Times best-selling book, A House in the Sky. Lindhout—a statuesque, beautiful woman with shining brunette locks and a strong voice—was kidnapped in Somalia, back in 2011, and held hostage for 460 days. Subjected to starvation, physical and sexual abuse, Lindhout’s tale is a harrowing one that tests the limits of human perseverance, resilience, and hope. When one hears of Lindhout’s ordeal, there is a certain expectation that Amanda will look like a victim—whatever that means. Media has been quick to use hurtful terms like “damaged woman” when describing Lindhout; but on the contrary, she has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of her kidnapping, emerging as a beacon of strength and recovery for other victims of sexual abuse. Lindhout is a survivor and in this interview with our Editor-in-Chief, Nikki Vargas, she proves it. UNEARTH WOMEN


Photo provided by Amanda Lindhout



“I can stay stuck in the story that I’m a victim or choose to see myself as a survivor. I’m not going to let my experience hold me back because what I held out for during captivity was this freedom I have today.”

It’s been almost nine years since your kidnapping in Somalia, how has the process of recovery been for you? Coming out of that experience and coming back to the world was difficult. I felt fundamentally changed on every level: spiritually, emotionally, physically. I was experiencing severe PTSD symptoms but didn’t understand what was going on as it was all new to me. I was just living in this awful place in my mind where I was having flashbacks and panic attacks, body aches, pains, and nightmares. I tried meeting different psychologists, but I was an anomaly as nobody knew how to help me. These psychologists hadn’t dealt with people who had been tortured and raped in the ways that I had been hurt. It was through Sara Corbett, my co-author in A House in the Sky, that I was connected to a psychologist who specializes in working with survivors of torture and PTSD. This incredible psychologist has totally transformed my healing by giving me an education on PTSD and an understanding of my condition. It was through that understanding that my suffering lessened. Your best-selling memoir, A House in the Sky, details your life before Somalia as well as your kidnapping. What was the experience of writing this book like?


When I came out of captivity, I wasn’t sure that I even wanted to write a book. When you go through a headline event such as a kidnapping, publishing houses, directors, everyone will come out of the woodwork in hopes of telling this story of 460 days of brutality and captivity. I hadn’t even started my healing process at that point, and so wasn’t interested in the idea of focusing exclusively on the violence of my kidnapping when I knew there was a lot more to the experience. I also didn’t want someone to go write the book for me, but rather, I wanted the support of a co-author. I was introduced to Sara Corbett through National Geographic journalist, Robert Draper, who I mention in the book as having met in Somalia. When Robert initially pitched my book project to Sara, she wasn’t interested in the kidnapping story either, but out of respect for Robert’s excitement about the possibility of connecting us, she Googled my name and found an old video of me hopping over puddles in Pakistan and drinking tea on the streets in India and was like ‘who is this young woman and what happened to her?’ and decided that was the real story. The book was as much for other people to read as it was a way for me to purge my experience. I’m just so proud of that book, I think it absolutely represents the experience, which was incredibly difficult, but beautiful in what was discovered about the reserves of strength within myself.


“I’m not damaged. I’m so strong and all I’ve gone through has made me strong.”

You have publicly said you do not want to be labeled as a victim, but rather as a survivor. Can you explain why you feel that distinction is important? In my own mind, I needed to change the narrative. I needed to change my own self-talk and what I’ve learned is that these things happen to us in life and then they’re done and become a memory. All I’m left with now in my actual day-to-day life is the memory of what happened to me in Somalia, so the way that I frame my experience in my own mind matters a lot because I can stay stuck in the story that I’m a victim or choose to see myself as a survivor. I’m not going to let my experience hold me back because what I held out for during captivity was this freedom I have today.

those headlines, turn them around for people who are reading them and say ‘this isn’t me and it’s not you either.” The headlines give me an opportunity to teach something. I lived in those stories for years, as lots of women do, but the truth is— after all the healing work that I’ve done—I see those headlines are not true at all, I’m not damaged. I’m so strong and all I’ve gone through has made me strong.

A Canadian newspaper ran a story that referenced you as a ‘damaged woman’ in its headline. It seems that women who survive traumatic events are often victimized, while men are championed. How do you feel about the media portrayal of you? Here’s where I’m at with my healing: this is an opportunity for me to say to all these other women “you’re not damaged.” It’s not important for me to sit and be mad about the headlines or narrative. Sometimes the words sting but what I can do is take

This year, you had to face one of your captors in a Canadian courtroom, Ali Omar Ader (known as ‘Adam’ in your book). What was it like encountering one of your captors again? I never felt the need for any of my captors to be arrested, I never expected they would be, I was just moving on. The day before my 34th birthday, I got a call from my RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) contact and he told me they’ve arrested ‘Adam’ in Ottawa. I just fell to the ground, on my knees, and kept saying ‘thank you, thank you’ over and over again. The next day, my 34th birthday, I woke up and his face was on the front page of every newspaper in town alongside mine. I was pretty terrified because it was then I started to think about what his arrest actually meant for me, that there was going to be a trial and I would have to testify. I resisted it all initially. I was barely hanging onto my own health at that point. It took a lot of work



with my psychologist to get me to the point of not resisting the trial and to willingly being apart of the process. By the time the court date came, there was a level of acceptance that I could see that this wasn’t happening to me, it wasn’t happening for me and that there was healing in this for me too. You have become a real inspiration when it comes to compassion, resilience and the power of forgiveness. Can you explain how forgiveness has helped you on your own path of healing? When people hear that I’ve forgiven my captors it’s hard for them to understand how that could happen. My motivation both in captivity and in the aftermath of it is to remember that my captors are human beings who are suffering, but at the end of the day, I need to let go of what happened for myself because I’m the container that’s holding it. The choice to forgive my captors is a selfish choice—selfish in the best possible way—as I am finding a way to let go of all those negative emotions attached to my experience. I challenge myself to find compassion in my heart for them because they are hurting too. Forgiveness is an ongoing thing that you contemplate, strive for and reach for. I don’t get to forgiveness every day and that’s okay. It’s not about never feeling anger or sadness, but instead about bouncing back and getting back to center quickly. Back in 2011, after your release from captivity, you went back to Somalia to deliver food during the famine. What was it like being back there after your ordeal? There’s a very common symptom with people who have PTSD called ‘reenactment’ where you put yourself in situations that resemble the original trauma. I didn’t know that then. I don’t regret my decision to go back to Somalia as we raised so much money for people in a part of the world that needs it, but I wouldn’t go back again. You have said that Somalia was the worst thing that happened to you in your life and also the best thing that happened to you in your life, which is an incredible statement. Usually, the things in life that are the hardest for us to go through are what we learn and grow the most from. If you look at it from that perspective, Somalia absolutely set my life in a different direction that is a lot richer and deeper in terms of my own personal self then it ever could have been if that hadn’t happened to me. So, that’s the story that I choose to tell myself every day, not about Somalia being the worst thing but about it being one of the greatest gifts.




From a Congolese Death Camp to the United Nations BY CAROLE ROSENBLAT

The soldiers came under the cover of darkness, arriving in three military trucks that ominously pulled up in front of Rose Mapendo’s house. Seeing the trucks, Mapendo helped her husband, Moises, hide in their kitchen storage space. Although seven of her eight children were at home, Mapendo and the kids remained in plain sight for nobody believed the intruders would take women and children away. UNEARTH WOMEN


Photo by Jeff Vespa



“We did not know we were the enemy,” remembers Mapendo. “We thought we were Congolese.”


he first time Mapendo saw her husband, Moises, was in church, and the next time was at their wedding where, a week after exchanging vows, the pair spoke for the first time. At the time, arranged marriages were common in the Congo with Mapendo’s own matrimony predestined at the young age of 14. In 1994, Mapendo—who was born in the countryside city of Mulenge—moved to Kasayi with her family in search of opportunity. Mapendo, who had received just one year of schooling, was determined to have her children gain more education in Kasayi, where she would also open a local butcher business with her husband. Like the calm before a storm, life seemed promising for Mapendo and her husband. That same year, following the end of the Rwandan genocide, Hutus fled across the border to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This was just what budding revolutionary Laurent-Désiré Kabila needed, and he began organizing Rwandan Hutus—as well as those from Uganda and Burundi —to overthrow the government of Congolese dictator Joseph Mobutu. In 1997, Kabila declared himself President of the DRC and on August 2nd, 1998, Kabila gave 24-hour notice for all Tutsis to leave the Congo. Though born in the DRC, Mapendo and her family were of the ethnic group Banyamulenge, Tutsi. Assuming Kabila meant Tutsi mercenaries from other nations, Mapendo and her family decided to stay put. “We did not know we were the enemy,” remembers Mapendo. “We thought we were Congolese.” It was that September when soldiers arrived at Mapedo’s home and loaded her and her children—along with four other families—into trucks to be transported to a

temporary holding facility. For three days, the captives received no food or water. On the third day of her captivity, Mapendo’s husband, Moises, bravely arrived on his motorcycle prepared to die. Moises couldn’t live in hiding knowing his family had been taken. “I was brought to him and asked him why he had come,” recalls Mapendo, knowing full-well he would be killed. Moises defiantly responded that he would rather die before his family did. Her husband’s words were the last Mapendo would hear from him as she and her children were soon loaded into a truck and transferred to another facility in the city of Kananga, where Mapendo would receive news of her husband’s torture and subsequent death, and begin to recognize the tell-tale signs of an early pregnancy. Pregnant, widowed and held in captivity, Mapendo and her fellow captives were left underfed, given a mere two cups of rice that was meant to serve 30 people. The next months were a battle to stay alive for Mapendo who was now eight months pregnant, starving, and living in squalor. In a moment of desperation, Mapendo—who felt ready to give up and die— found herself turning towards God in hopes of forgiveness. “At that moment,” Mapendo recalls, “God spoke to me. He told me, ‘How can I forgive you for your sins when there are those you’ve not forgiven?’ Nothing changed on the outside, but everything changed on the inside. God gave me a baby shower.” A month later, Mapendo went into labor while lying on a filthy cement floor and struggling to remain silent so as not to alert the guards. With her 17-year old daughter and two other women helping, Mapendo gave birth to two less-than-healthy



“I thought my family would be killed and my daughter, Aimee, would be taken [again].”

baby boys. In an act of forgiveness—inspired by her transcendental message from God—Mapendo named the boys after two of the camp commanders. This gesture of forgiveness was as compassionate as it was tactical for, in the DRC, there is no greater honor than having a child named after you, allowing Mapendo’s children to be afforded leniency from the camp’s guards. In the months that followed, Mapendo’s resilience—both personally and as a single mother—would be severely tested. Mapendo faced impossible choices, such as bargaining for her 14-year-old son’s life by offering up her 17-year-old daughter as a sex slave to an officer at the camp. Faced with a veritable ‘Sophie’s choice,’ Mapendo did what she could to keep her children alive in uncertain times until—five months later—women and children were put on a military flight and transported to Kinshasa where the rumor was they’d be executed. “I freaked out,” Mapendo remembers. “I thought my family would be killed and my daughter, Aimee, would be taken [again].” By nothing short of a miracle, the mercenary—who had taken Mapendo’s eldest daughter months prior only to return her pregnant—asked the guards to keep Mapendo and her children alive. The mercenary proved to have valuable connections, one of whom was Joseph Kabila, the President’s son and current President of the DRC. With the help of Kabila, Mapendo and the fellow captives were brought soap, sugar, and rice. “They gave each child a cup and a plate,” says Mapendo. “I remember it was a purple cup and a purple plate. They kept us [in captivity] another week and fed us so when they took us to the human rights center we didn’t look so bad.” Finally, with her nine-month-old twins weighing just under five UNEARTH WOMEN

pounds each, Mapendo and her fellow captives (which included 29 children) were dropped off at a human rights center. A week later the Congolese death camp survivors were transferred to Cameroon and, eventually, to the United States. In the wake of her captivity, Mapendo now fights to end genocide through her non-profit, the Rose Mapendo Foundation. Inspired by the belief that women are the key to change, Mapendo now works to connect and empower the women of the Congo to take action. Nominated by actress Susan Sarandon, Rose was awarded the Hometown Hero Award from Volvo for Life, nominated as a CNN Hero, and in 2009 was named the United Nations Humanitarian of the Year. Currently, Mapendo is building a women’s center in her old village for Hutu and Tutsi women to gather, watch movies, sew, and make plans to end the violence against them. Today, Rose, her children, and grandchildren live freely in the United States.


Author Bio Carole Rosenblat is a freelance writer, travel industry consultant, and speaker whose work has appeared in Fodor's, The Yucatan Times, Cruise Industry News, and Sammiches and Psych Meds, among others. She is the author of the blog, Drop Me Anywhere.


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Unearth Women | Issue 1: Resilience