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Portrait of Humanity 2020 Shortlist / Naomi Goddard

Naomi Goddard

Soku's niece, China

Soku’s niece stands holding scrubs that she will use to light the fire. This image was taken during the time I spent staying with a nomadic family in broader Tibet. Tibetan children display a unique strength as they help their family with chores to adapt to the harsh weather on the Tibetan plateau. Soku and her family migrate with their yaks across the vast grasslands every summer, living at an altitude of over 3,700 metres. With no specific place to call home, the family are led by their yak herd, chasing fresh grass to feed the cattle and themselves. Many nomads fear that the traditional Tibetan way of life is disappearing as the Chinese government urges them to resettle in permanent housing communities away from the grasslands. The government frames this as an ecological policy: once the nomads are moved into cities, the grasslands are turned into national parks. There is no room for the yaks in the government’s vision of the nomads’ future. Soku’s family cling on to their old way of life, with the yaks as the treasured core.

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