What a difference a few minutes can make to someone’s life, where a chance meeting can become a life-changing event. Back in 2006, Simon Watkinson had one of those chance meetings that not only was going to have a massive impact on his life but also of that of a little Nepalese girl
I was in the hill village of Ghandruk, high in the Annapurna Himalayan range, taking a holiday (yes, with camera in hand). I was away for a month as I had planned to combine a reconnaissance for future photo tours with a relaxing break. My journey took me high into the Annapurna sanctuary, which is surrounded by spectacular mountains. On my return from my high altitude trip I planned to spend some time in Ghandruk, to soak up the Himalayan atmosphere, staying in a pleasant lodge, above the one that I was planning to use for my guests when running photo tours. The lodge owner was a Nepalese man called Jay, who also ran the lodge below, so it was a great opportunity to build relationships.
Each day of my stay in Ghandruk, I took a walk around the village that was built on a steep hillside, and every day I discovered a new path and met new faces to chat to and to photograph. One morning I walked past some small mud built houses and a young woman in her early twenties attracted my attention. She was shouting at me and waving her arms frantically. I had no idea what she wanted or what she was saying, but from her gestures she definitely wanted me to go over. Curiously, I headed to her house. On arrival she pointed to a blanket on her porch. It was screwed up and filthy dirty as if someone had discarded it. She bent over the blanket and pulled it to one side to reveal a little three years’ old girl hidden beneath it.
The shock and horror of what I saw will stay with me forever. The…