Searching for two sisters in Nepal
The image on the left was taken on the 22nd April, 2009. Almost exactly six years and one week before the image on the right. They show the same street in Bhaktapur, one of Nepal's most historic cities, before and after last Saturday's earthquake.
In 2009, whilst photographing for a magazine feature, I spent a while photographing these two sisters on their way home from school. One of the images appeared in my first exhibition.
With a couple of hours free at the end of today's assignment and with copies of these photos on my phone, I took a detour to Bhaktapur, intending to search for the two sisters. Amazingly, I was able to find people who recognised the girls and we were able to track them down.
Yamuna and Jamuna are eleven years old now. Sadly, they lost their home and have been sleeping outside with their older sister, Saraswati, since Saturday.
They showed me what remains of their home, no more than a pile of bricks just a few steps from where these photos were made.
Their parents have gone to stay with their uncle in order to protect their few remaining belongings. I've heard several reports of opportunistic thieves operating at night, which were confirmed to me by the local police.
There is not enough space for the girls at their uncle's house. They eat from a simple, open-air community kitchen twice a day and there's been a water tanker delivery each morning. They have almost no money and are relying on the charity of neighbours. Yet their situation is no different from that of so many others and is better than some.
Yamuna and Jamuna were quiet and withdrawn today. Shell-shocked, I suppose. Not quite the happy-go-lucky, skipping five year-old children I encountered previously, although seeing pictures of themselves on my phone did make them laugh together, which was a happy sound. I did what I could to improve their situation and they are much better equipped now than they were this morning.
Whilst it was really pleasing to find the girls alive and well and I know they'll have a more comfortable night tonight, you have to multiply their story tens of thousands of times to get an idea of the current situation in Nepal.
Aid agencies are doing what they can but the lack of infrastructure, the difficult terrain and the weather all conspire to make delivering help where it's needed a truly monumental task.
Many remote areas have yet to see any meaningful support nearly a week after the initial earthquake and the evidence is that the majority of people are fending for themselves with what little they have