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2021 was supposed to be the year life returned to normal.  It wasn’t.

The second year of the pandemic has forced societies to reckon with relentless uncertainty. Photographs taken by 22 Global Press Journal reporters throughout the year highlight how we’ve coped. They capture resilience, grief, joy. They showcase endurance. They remind us that we’re not alone.

Sundaram Baladevan plows the soil at a tobacco plantation in northern Sri Lanka while egrets search for insects. Farmers in Jaffna district have focused on rebuilding after Cyclone Burevi destroyed paddy fields in December 2020.

By Vijayatharsiny Thinesh, GPJ Sri Lanka

José Antonio García, who is blind, molds the face of a clay model at his family’s workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico. García’s wife, Reina Mendoza Sánchez, assists and adds details after he creates the shape.

By Ena Aguilar Peláez, GPJ Mexico

Richard Kakome, left, and Charles Kasereka cut down a tree in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The country is grappling with increasing deforestation.

By Merveille Kavira Luneghe, GPJ Democratic Republic of Congo

Mayanko Phiri, 11, left, smiles at Linas Banda, 11, as they eat porridge at a primary school in Chinyunyu, a rural area outside of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. This year, to comply with pandemic health rules, public schools limited how many days students could attend classes.

By Prudence Phiri, GPJ Zambia

Marcela Cerdan, 39, who contracted COVID-19 in June 2020, stands for a portrait at a train station in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Cerdan says it took months for her to feel calm and safe enough to venture out in public again.

By Lucila Pellettieri, GPJ Argentina

People take photographs and observe lava the morning after Mount Nyiragongo erupted in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. The eruption, which occurred on May 22, 2021, destroyed more than 3,000 homes and displaced some 400,000 people.

By Noella Nyirabihogo, GPJ Democratic Republic of Congo

Sebastián Pérez Girón, 6, smiles as he cares for a sheep his family owns in Chuliá, located in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. Sebastián, a member of the Tseltal community, is learning remotely because of the pandemic. “I’d like to go back to school,” Sebastián says. “But I think I’ll miss playing with the sheep.”

By Adriana Alcázar González, GPJ Mexico

From left, Oldia Louis, Jovany Gerard and Petherson Fleurant, members of the Haitian National Theater dance group, perform during the inauguration of a cultural center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Gerard says that choreography and performances can motivate young people to participate in cultural activities.

By Anne Myriam Bolivar, GPJ Haiti

From left, Munkhsugir Altaikhuu, Anudari Azjargal, 12, and Rashzeveg Altaikhuu herd goats on Zuunsaikhan mountain in Mongolia’s Umnugovi province. Most herders reared fewer livestock this year since they couldn’t access sufficient animal feed during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

By Nansalmaa Oyunchimeg, GPJ Mongolia

Florentino Padilla butchers a sawfish caught by fishermen from Rincón de Guayabitos, north of San Francisco, Mexico. The rise of large-scale commercial fishing along Mexico’s west coast has affected small-scale anglers’ profits and forced many to abandon the craft.

By Maya Piedra, GPJ Mexico

A cremation attendant in Kathmandu, Nepal, tends to the body of a 61-year-old woman who died of COVID-19 earlier in the day. In April, coronavirus cases surged in Nepal after massive outbreaks in neighboring India.

By Shilu Manandhar, GPJ Nepal

Ariunjargal Sainbuyan gives Khorolmaa Urtnasan the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Dalanzadgad, the capital of Umnugovi province, Mongolia. Provincial officials say it has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country.

By Uranchimeg Tsogkhuu, GPJ Mongolia

Urban artist Karina Cedillo looks at a poster, reflected in her sunglasses, that reads “CUIDADO, EL MACHISMO MATA” (BEWARE, MALE CHAUVINISM KILLS) at a gathering in Mexico City. Feminist artist collectives have been part of a national effort to draw attention to violence against women in Mexico.

By Mar García, GPJ Mexico

A female student, who asked not to be identified out of fear of stigma, looks out the window at a school in Orkhon province, Mongolia. The student says her school’s doctors don’t seek consent before testing girls for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

By Khorloo Khukhnokhoi, GPJ Mongolia

A cyclist crosses a bridge over the Lerma River in Lerma, Mexico. Citizens are using homemade eggshell-based filters to improve water quality in Lerma, an industrial area where factory wastewater has made the river one of the country’s most polluted.

By Aline Suárez del Real, GPJ Mexico

Enkhtsetseg Enkhbaatar, right, paints Nemekhjargal Togtokhbayar’s nails in central Mongolia’s Arkhangai province. Enkhtsetseg has worked as a manicurist since 2019, when the bank where she used to work went bankrupt.

By Odonchimeg Batsukh, GPJ Mongolia

Martín Hernández, 8, left, and Alonso Prado, 10, members of the Rarámuri community, rest after dancing during a Holy Week celebration in Norogachi, Chihuahua, Mexico. Holy Week, or Semana Santa, is considered the most important festival of the year.

By Lilette A. Contreras, GPJ Mexico

Kamardheen Sithysameena and Kaleel Ramshiya sow black grain seeds in northern Sri Lanka’s Mannar district. Black grain is a profitable option for farmers because Sri Lanka restricts imports of the crop.

By Vetrichelvi Chandrakala, GPJ Sri Lanka

Congregants of Johane the Fifth of Africa Apostolic Church listen to a sermon by Andby Makururu in which he encourages his followers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in Mutare, Zimbabwe. Vaccine hesitancy in Zimbabwe’s apostolic community has been a challenge in the government’s efforts to combat the pandemic.

By Evidence Chenjerai, GPJ Zimbabwe

Claire, 14, who was raped, holds her baby in the nursery at Princess Shelter in Kampala, Uganda. Officials say the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders left children vulnerable to predators.

By Patricia Lindrio, GPJ Uganda

Georgie Moreno looks at the ocean below the balcony of his home in Añasco, Puerto Rico. Residents have installed stronger foundations to protect their houses against erosion.

By Coraly M. Cruz Mejías, GPJ Puerto Rico

Lovemore Musiyiwa, who sells sugar cane when it’s in season, takes a bite in Westlea, Zimbabwe. Musiyiwa says on a good day he can make $70 from selling the sweet snack.

By Gamuchirai Masiyiwa, GPJ Zimbabwe

Behind the Lens

What compelled GPJ senior reporter Noella Nyirabihogo to run toward the heat after Mount Nyiragongo’s May eruption? Hear that story and more on Global Press Journal’s YouTube page.


Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the location of the Congregants of Johane the Fifth of Africa Apostolic Church. Participants are in Mutare, Zimbabwe. Global Press Journal regrets the error.