28 February 2014
Two Nirmala Dasi sisters visit a slum neighborhood in Thrissur. (photo: Jose Jacob)
Jose Jacob is a photographer based in India. He’s covered several assignments for ONE, and wanted to share with our readers how that work has affected him.
I live in a country where we Christians are considered a minority. I still remember in my childhood, when a TV series on the life of Jesus Christ suddenly stopped telecasting. Weeks later reports emerged that it was feared that the series would cause communal disharmony and so was being discontinued.
When I was working on my master’s degree, I had friends who were victims of the Kandhamal riots, one of the most inhuman attacks against Christians in the eastern state of Orissa. They still live in constant fear. I was again shocked by the attacks against the churches in Mangalore, which happened in the southern state of Karnataka. Investigations asked only a few questions, and received fewer answers. I found our lives very vulnerable, crushed under such communal clashes.
I took up the assignments from ONE magazine as any other that came my way, never knowing that it would change my life forever. These assignments took me to places where I saw and experienced a different side of life. I met people who had nothing to look forward to, nothing to live for — and yet I saw they were totally content. I met parents who cried during our interviews when they explained their hardships. I visited several institutions managed by Nirmala Dasi Sisters, and was humbled by the selfless services of the sisters there.
They told me their patients lived long for one simple reason: they smiled at them and took care of them as their own. The patients felt loved. Visiting the slum convent and listening to the sisters who lived there was a great experience. I have never seen so many smiling faces before, feeling completely safe in God’s hands.
St. Thomas Church in Palayur is a leading pilgrimage site for Christians in India.
(photo: Jose Jacob)
But I never really discovered my rich Christian heritage until my journey to Palayur’s St. Thomas Church. The interview with Mr. Menachery was a true eye-opener; there was so much richness to the history — and we were a part of it! The journey revealed so much about our culture. I now feel real proud to be an Indian Christian.
All of these were possible only through CNEWA, an organization so dedicated in preserving Christian values and faith across the world. The work done by the organization not only helps the needy, but also transforms their lives forever. I was really happy to document CNEWA’s services in this part of the world, and feel proud to be a part of CNEWA’s great vision.
I hope that the light of compassion this organization carries continues to spread and nurture true Christian values among all people.
Tags: India CNEWA Sisters Indian Christians Thomas Christians