Farida Alam
 Photo by Farida Alam from "Survived Against All the Odds". 
Dear Spotlight Readers:
Let me begin by congratulating the winners of our recent Call for Entries on Celebrating the Global Community. John Rae won first place for his project, The Positive Community, exploring people living with AIDS and their successes and struggles. All winners can be found here. I want to thank everyone who submitted work and I also want to thank the jurors. If you did submit work, keep in mind that we review all projects on SDN when we are looking for work to feature in ZEKE magazine.
I would like to welcome three new members to the SDN Advisory Committee: Catherine Karnow, Jamey Stillings, and Amy Yenkin. Full biographies of all Advisory Committee members can found on our website. This group of committed individuals are essential to keeping SDN a vibrant and successful organization.
In the coming months, SDN will be starting a new nonprofit entity to work side by side with SDN and ZEKE to help us reach the philanthropic community for support. We believe that the future of SDN clearly lies with charitable support because so much of what we do is for the public good, and while the revenue we receive from exhibits, competitions, and ZEKE sales are important, in the long run it will not support us to achieve our long-term goals. We hope this new entity, yet to be named, will help us achieve that. ( Contact me if you are interested in learning more.)
In the short term, we are partnering with the nonprofit organization, Talking Eyes Media, to be a fiscal sponsor for SDN. Donations made to Talking Eyes on our behalf are fully tax-deductible.
In the fall, we will be launching The Campaign for ZEKE and reaching out to all ZEKE subscribers and the entire SDN community. Some of you have already received information on this. The support received from this campaign will assure that we can continue to publish ZEKE, as the revenue from subscriptions only covers a fraction of our total operating costs. If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to The Campaign for ZEKE, click here.
In closing I would like to congratulate Farida Alam for her very sensitive and compelling exhibit on the nomadic Bede community in Bangladesh that, during childbirth, spurns modern medicine for traditional midwives. Alam also shows and tells us about the enormous support pregnant women receive from their community upon giving birth--something we in the more developed world can learn from.

Glenn Ruga 
SDN Founder & Director     

F E A T U R E D   P H O T O G R A P H E R   O F   T H E    M O N T H 
Farida Alam    
Survived Against All the Odds    

Farida Alam
Photo by Farida Alam. After almost sixteen hours of labor pain, at last the mother and the newborn baby are taking a rest.

In Bangladesh, the nomadic community, known as the Bede community, is a unique social group with distinctive culture and heritage. This photo series represents the story of a pregnant Bede woman named Dulary who already had four children when she gave birth to her fifth child -- a boy. They never visit doctors unless it becomes crucial. It is a custom of theirs that women give birth with the help of traditional midwives. When someone has labor pains, a group usually leaves their work and stays to support the pregnant woman. The other groups who go to work share their earning with the women who stay home.
View exhibit and complete text >>

Farida Alam
Bangladesh photographer Farida Alam's inspiration for photography comes from people and her surroundings. She loves to experience other cultures, meet different people from diverse communities. She believes in immersion photography and spends months listening, observing and talking with her subjects over the course of a project. Photography has become part of her identity - a force that makes her think, feel and understand human beings and the human condition. Her work on third gender people, "Reflection of dispersed soul", hidden for years has brought her international award and recognitions. Currently, Farida is pursuing a Diploma in photography from Alliance Francaise de Dhaka. She is a also lifetime member of "Bangladesh Photography Society (BPS)". View her complete profile on SDN. 
August 2017 Spotlight

Featured exhibits submitted to SDN in July 2017

Mariusz Smiejek
Loyalists. No Surrender.>>
by Mariusz Smiejek/ United Kingdom

Who are the Northern Ireland Loyalists? How do they talk about themselves and how do others see them? For the global mass media and in social media (particulary after the recent parliamentary elections in the UK and an agreement with Theresa May) they are perceived to be the armed wing of the DUP, ...

Saud A. Faisal
Water prisoners>>
by Saud A Faisal/ Bangladesh

Bangladesh is the worst victim of global climate change, hence a huge population faces floods every year. People move to the nearest highland to take temporary shelter, keeping their home behind in the flash floods. Until the water reaches above their knees, they try to remain in their homes hoping ...

Liz Sanders
Young and Yemeni in New York>>
by Liz Sanders/ United States

Young and Yemeni in NYC  Documents the lives of Yemeni-Americans living in New York City during a period of immigration and transition. As thousands of Yemenis flee violence and hardship in Yemen, new ways of life must be formed. The transition can be seen most clearly through the new gen...

Sudipta Dutta Chowdhury
Life in a Furnace>>
by Sudipta Dutta Chowdhury/ India

Loading and unloading cut/waste leather particles in incinerator furnace to prepare fertilizer and fish feed. These primitive furnace units burn and boil shaving (byproducts of finished leather products), flesh linings and trimmings dust in the East Kolkata Wetlands near Bantala to make ...


The Black Thursday>>
by Sandipan Mukherjee/ India

More than a year passes. The day was March 31, 2016 during a hot scorching period. A flyover connecting Vivekananda Road became curse of the daily life of Kolkata. The fault of structural design, choice of materials and a faulty engineering has wiped out the huge number...

The Keepers>>
by Liza Van der Stock/ India

Waste pickers play an essential role in the livability and sustainability of large cities like Mumbai. Every day, thousands of them roam the streets and dumping sites to recycle the waste created by others. Despite their positive impact on the environment, they do not get the credit they deserve. ...

Myanmar's Nat Festival - and Unofficial Trans Pride>>
by Gemma Taylor/ Myanmar

Leading up to August's full moon, an estimated 250,000 visitors descend on Taung Pyone, a small rural village 20km north of Mandalay for the country's largest nat festival. Nats are spirits that have sat alongside Myanmar's Buddhist culture, since the 11th century. There are...

Children of the Himalaya>>
by Wilbur Norman/ Nepal

Despite the growing fracture and balkanization of the world, most of us still believe that children will be children. Many of these children, rather than being left alone at home, accompany a parent to a workplace in the fields, on a riverbed, any place their parents go to scratch out a living. ...

Celebration of the Victory Day in Brest Fortress>>
by Grzegorz Sosinski/ Belarus

Victory Day commemorates the end of WWII. It is the day of commemoration for the people who were killed during the war of 1939-1945. Nowadays, Europe celebrates Victory Day on May 8 (with the date of the beginning of war in 1939). Russia and post-Soviet countries, such as Belarus and Central Asian ...

Community in Action-Standing Rock>>
by Robert Studzinski/ United States

The resistance of the Standing Rock Sioux to the Dakota Access Pipeline drew worldwide attention to the struggles for clean water and indigenous rights in 2016. An oil pipeline on treaty land and under the Missouri River was seen as too dangerous to ignore. What ensued was the  spontaneous ...

The peaceful villages along the Mekong River>>
by Ellen Denuto/ United States

For the 70 million people living in the lower Mekong region, the great 2,500 mile river is the source of life and security. All rivers flow to it, and everyone depends on it and its tributaries for the fish and food they live on. Laos, Cambodia,Thailand and Vietnam share the lower Mekong basin...

The forgotten people of Kurdistan>>
by Giacomo Sini/ Turkey; Syria; Iraq

In 2014, I heard about the Islamic State's siege on Shingal city in Iraq and later on the Kurdish city of Kobane, in northern Syria, I became concerned about the Kurds' fate in these areas. In October 2014, I flew to Turkey and started to follow the situation on the border ...

Two Brothers Wedding Party>>
by Mehdi Nazeri/ Iran

The village of Shib Deraz is on Qeshm Island in Iran. The wedding party is held in its traditional and special way. Neither bride nor groom see each other, and the wedding party continues for several days and meanwhile the beautiful traditional party is watched. One of these costumes is ...

Buried Under This Coal>>
by Nicoló Filippo Rosso/ Colombia

The deserts of La Guajira peninsula in northern Colombia are home to the country's largest indigenous group, the Wayuu. They are also the site of the world's largest open-pit coal mine, Cerrejon. La Guajira has always been parched, but the Wayuu's semi-nomadic lifestyle and their...

Advisory Committee
Lori Grinker
Catherine Karnow
Ed Kashi
Molly Roberts
Jeffrey D. Smith
Jamey Stillings
Stephen Walker
Frank Ward
Amy Yenkin

Glenn Ruga
Founder & Director

Barbara Ayotte
Communications Director

Caterina Clerici

Special Issue Editor 

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About Social Documentary Network
Social Documentary Network is a website for photographers, NGOs, journalists, editors, and students to create and explore documentary exhibits investigating critical issues facing the world today. Recent exhibits have explored oil workers in the Niger River Delta, male sex workers in India, Central American immigrant women during their journey north, and Iraqi and Afghan refugees in Greece. Click here to view all of the exhibits.