Last week I had the incredible honor to once again visit Sister Jeanne Devos in the mission house in Heverlee, before she heads back to India. It’s so wonderful to meet such inspirational people through photography.
Sister Jeanne has been working in India for over 50 years and founded the National Domestic Workers Movement. This organization works to find dignity for domestic workers all over India. A very vulnerable group, they often get abused and denied their basic rights. Tirelessly, Sister Jeanne continues her work and by now the movement is active in 23 states of the country and counts over 2 million members.
When I asked Sister Jeanne what she thought was her biggest achievement so far, she didn’t name her Nobel Peace Prize nomination or the countless awards she received. She didn’t mention the law that with her help was established to end child labour or the Minimum Wage Act for Domestic Workers. She did however mention the change in attitude that she witnessed in the women and girls she works with. Years ago they would bow their heads, not feel worthy to even look her in the eye, literally feel less then her. Yet now, they will come in the room with confidence, straight back and will say hello looking her in the eye. It’s this dignity that she fights for and will continue to work for I’m sure. And it was beautiful to hear her tell all these kinds of stories to me.