Sahaya Mary worked in the fields from childhood until three years ago when she began working in the Madha reeling unit. As a mother of four, Sahaya realises the importance of a good education.
“I have worked in the Madha reeling unit for 3 years. I have 4 daughters. The oldest stopped studying at 12th grade and got married. Out of the others one is in the 9th grade, one is in 12th and the other one is in college,” says Sahaya proudly.
“I like this mill as it’s close to home, not time restrictive, pays us for performance and the boss is a good man. He is kind and he does not take us for a ride and neither do we,” she laughs. “He never gets violent and helps us with our issues outside the mill as well. I have a small piece of land but the rains have failed so work in this mill is very important and the work and employment are available year around.
I regret I never got an education but that chance did not exist for me and now I can only do manual or mill work. I lost my mother as a child and my father was not interested in sending me to school. So, I worked in the fields until 3 years ago when I found this mill. It is so much better to work here. As a coolie I earned about 30 rupees to 50 rupees a day. Now I earn up to 250 a day and I also own a cow so I sell milk.
But God has been so good to me and has blessed me with the ability to feed my children and myself. I wish the world for them. I do not desire more. I wish all children can get an education. Education can free you. You must educate your children.”
“You must educate your children. My mother died when I was very young and I had to work in the fields as a child.”spinning mill worker in Southern India Sahaya Mary
Photographer Ryan Lobo’s poignant images of women in Southern India are now being exhibited on C&A Foundation’s new Instagram page.
Ryan has been travelling throughout Southern India to capture the stories of women working at cotton spinning mills, women who are former Sumangali workers (forced or bonded labourers in cotton spinning mills), and girls who are in programmes to prevent them entering into Sumangali.
Ryan is a gifted storyteller, photographer, cinematographer, and author. Through his images, he is documenting the day-to-day reality of the lives of the women who we work with in our signature programme to eradicate forced labour.
The pictures are part of a larger series which celebrates the people behind the clothes, and Ryan’s images shed light on their complex realities both at work and at home. Over the next two months, our Instagram will be featuring the work of five different photographers. Ryan is the second in the series. His first two images feature mother of four, Sahaya Mary.
For more, visit our Instagram page @candafoundation.