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12/27/2017 4:05:53 PM

Five uplifting stories around the world you might have missed in 2017

From Kung Fu nuns teaching Indian women self defence to freewheeling female students in Pakistan, 2017 was not all about conflicts and bloodsheds.

Here are five good news stories you might have missed in 2017 amid headlines of bloodshed, natural disasters and sexual harassment allegations.

Kung Fu nuns strike back at sex attacks in India

If you think all that nuns do is sit and prey, think again.

Buddhist nuns in India's remote Himalayan region of Ladakh teach around 100 girls and young women the martial art of Kung Fu amid rising reports of rape in India. Taken on Aug 18, 2017. Photo by Thomson Reuters Foundation/Nita Bhalla

The Kung Fu nuns - women from an age-old Buddhist sect based mainly in Nepal and India - use martial arts to teach women how to fend off sex attackers.

"The heroes of the Himalayas" also hike and cycle through the mountains to raise awareness among local communities on issues ranging from pollution to human trafficking.

"We walk the talk. If we act, people will think if: 'If nuns can act, why can't we?'"

A "Haven of peace" in war-torn South Sudan

Protected by marshes and inaccessible by foot, an ethnically mixed town in war-torn South Sudan has been dubbed a "haven of peace" by its 40,000 residents.

Mary Deng, a Dinka mother has found refuge in opposition-held Ganyiel, escaping food insecurity in her former home. She has brought her three children after her husband died. Ganyiel, South Sudan on October 30, 2017. Photo by Thomson Reuters Foundation/Stefanie Glinski

While fighting in the rest of the country has created Africa's largest refugee crisis, Ganyiel's residents have been living together in relative peace, rowing through the surrounding swamps in their tree-carved boats.

"Just two months ago, 2,700 Dinka arrived here, fleeing food insecurity and conflict. They are welcome. The war is political. It's not between us people."

Bicycles help to challenge traditions in Pakistan

A bike sharing start-up on a Pakistani university campus has brought more than convenience for the students: the sight of freewheeling women has been helping to challenge gender stereotypes in the conservative society.

A group of students riding bikes at the soft launch of CYKIQ at NUST campus, Islamabad, Pakistan on May 2017. Photo by Reuters/Picture Courtesy of CYKIQ

Female students, reluctant to share cars with their male colleagues, now make up more than half of the cycling scheme's customers, pedaling across the nearly 1,000 acres of campus to attend classes.

Unlikely frienships as Italians embrace refugees

A new drive in Italy to match child migrants and refugees with residents who volunteer to support them has resulted in unexpected friendships.

Christiane Frost, 65, a retired social worker (L), and Sobuj, a 16-year-old migrant from Bangladesh (R), in Villa Trabia park Palermo, Italy October 23, 2017. Photo by Thomson Reuters Foundation/Vera Haller

A 16-year-old Bangladeshi boy or a 17-year old from Gambia may share no common language with guardians who could be their grandparents, yet the project has helped the young refugees find someone who cares for them in a place they now call home.

Colombia's neighborhood where women call all the shots

With no money and no husbands to support them, a group of women displaced by Colombia's civil war has turned dreams into reality by building their own homes.

 (R to L) Maritza Marimon, Everlides Almanza and Ana Luz Ortega, members of the League of Displaced Women who built Colombia’s City of Women, have a meeting at the community centre in the Municipality of Turbaco, near the city of Cartagena in northern Colombia, February 13, 2017. Photo by Thomson Reuters Foundation/Anastasia Moloney

Despite death threats, arson and even a murder, they learned how to make bricks and mix cement, and the City of Women that they built is run entirely by women who are now fighting for other rights like bus routes or a school for their children.

"We fought tooth and nail to build our homes. Men can't come here and say this is mine. It's ours."

By AFP  
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