I have wept at Michelangelo’s La Pieta and felt incredible energetic shifts at Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim sites throughout my travels. I recently watched the film The Reluctant Fundamentalist, adapted from the novel by Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid. In one scene, the main character Changez says something to the effect of, “Yes, I’m Muslim. Yes, I’m Pakistani . . . but I am also much more than that.” That scene resonated with me as I’ve always felt I was overflowing with abundant parts of other numerous descriptors; and those two designations in particular, though informing my foundation in ways, did not feel to my spirit the core identifiers in my life.
I feel very receptive to variances in spirituality and open to messages that come in the form of dreams, the sacred feminine-masculine, art, and simple moments while traveling for work, play, or both. I often wonder if there is a distinction between what we create ourselves, take credit for, and what we are given as gifts and merely record to share with our communities.
In 2010, I went with a team to Nepal to process refugee applications of ethnic Nepalis who fled Bhutan from persecution or were forcibly repatriated back to Nepal by the Bhutanese government. On my time off, I explored the cities of Damak, Kathmandu, Bhaktaphur, and Dharan.
Nepal is an incredibly vibrant place not only in spiritual energy and deeply kind people, but simply in actual color: bright orange, deep earth tones, and cool cerulean, to name a few. I have not retouched any of these photos; if you find beauty captured here, it is because these moments were given to me as gifts and in turn, for me to share with you. Nepal welcomed me as a guest and in return, I experienced a journey that truly enhanced my understanding of spirit and art and how I fit in between. For this I am grateful and give thanks.
Amina H. Shafi works in the field of refugee and asylum law and has always been passionate about women’s economic development and empowerment. After traveling to Nepal, Tanzania, and Kenya for work, she witnessed first hand refugees within camps and the creative efforts that women in particular make to supplement their families’ livelihood. She attended the University of Mary Washington, where she received a BA in international affairs with concentrations in English literature and fine arts. She received her JD from the Dickinson School of Law at Pennsylvania State University. She enjoys writing, dancing, and cooking and loves to support locally-sourced produce and small, independent businesses. She currently resides in Washington, DC.
© 2014 Amina Shafi