IN NOVEMBER 2010, THIS IMAGE EARNED SPECIAL MENTION FROM OUR JUDGES WHEN SELECTING THE WHL GROUP PHOTO OF THE YEAR.
This photo was taken by a friend of mine named Stanislas Fradelizi on a trip through Luang Namtha Province in Northern Laos. This province is very rich in both ethnic and biological diversity; it is home to more than 20 ethnic minority groups, 37 large animal species (including elephants, tigers, monkeys and bears), 297 bird species and over 60 fish species.
The photo depicts a typical village scene, with one of the younger girls in the family preparing the day’s rice for the family. The rice is first pounded using a wooden pile driver, which is visible just behind the girl in the bottom left hand corner of the full size picture. The material is then sifted by hand using large wicker plates to separate the rice from the husks.
This practice is part of everyday life rural Laos, and such village scenes as depicted here can be seen on any number of Luang Namtha tours, many of which include overnight stays in family homes in remote townships throughout the province.