I’ve been working on a big project this year in India. I travelled there last Fall to photograph an aftercare house that we are helping to renovate for girls that are rescued out of sex trafficking. I had the most amazing day with these girls and the nuns that run the home. I have been slowly getting my photos out into the world and in June they will be a part of a big art show in Kansas City centered around human trafficking. I thought I would share a few of the photos from the show and my artist statement describing my experience in India and how it changed me. It is such a dream come true to be involved in this kind of project and to help make change in the world. We are working on a website for the project and I will share the link in a future post.
What if prayer is the only answer to the global problems that flash across our screens? —until it’s not. I felt helpless when I first heard about human trafficking. I couldn’t hear the stories of young girls in distant places and at home without imagining my own daughter being kidnapped on the street. All I could do was pray. Then I met the Sisters Adorers, the “Ninja Nuns” as my daughter likes to call them. Seeing their work in India first hand has changed my life.
Inside one of India’s largest red light districts there are over 10,000 women working in the sex trade. Children are hidden behind walls, locked away, raped, and abused in every way. They are forced to service 15-20 clients a day. The International Justice Mission sends investigators into this place to find these girls and set them free.
These investigators initiate raids on brothels that are selling children for sex. The word spreads quickly through the red light district and on the night of the raid the investigators and police must move quickly before the underage girls are hidden away. Running alongside them are the Sisters Adorers. They come as witnesses and will serve by testifying in the courts after a raid is successful. These Sisters are willing to die for this cause and have given their lives for the restoration and rehabilitation of these young girls.
Last Fall I spent time with the Sisters and the girls that have been rescued and who now live in their aftercare center. “The House of Light” is a place where these girls can experience safety and freedom. These photographs are of girls who have experienced hell on earth, evil that I cannot imagine, but I couldn’t help but capture their beauty and strength.
Our day together changed me. We played and took silly photos. They showed me how they swim in the pond, how they make earrings and sew. They danced to music on my phone and read to me from their English books. It reminded me of being with my own daughter. They may live half way around the world, but these girls are just like our girls, just like us.
In India, staring darkness in the face, I found hope: hope that I can make a difference, hope that I can be a part of great work, hope that I can be a part of the solution over there and here in my own community. I want to be like a “Ninja Nun,” willing to run into the night to set someone free, giving up myself to care for those in need and offering hope to the world by my own work.