My last trip was to india. The main reason of this trip was to build experience working with non-profits and I joined Momenta Workshop http://www.momentaworkshops.com .

I was assigned to NGO Raphael, which is situated in the Doon Valley amidst picturesque surroundings and verdant Sal forests just outside Dehradun, in Uttaranchal.
Founded by renowned humanist, Group Captain Lord Leonard Cheshire and his wife Baroness Sue Ryder in 1959, its mission is to provide relief from suffering. It began as a home in a cluster of tents for cured leprosy patients, their children and mentally disturbed. Shunned and abandoned by their families and society, they came to Raphael to start a life of dignity, love and care-a dream to start a new life that would change their destiny forever.

In 1974, the Founders prevailed upon Major General Ranbir Bakshi, MC, who had retired after a very distinguished career in the Indian Army, to join their cause. He then steered Raphael with selfless dedication until his demise in 2006.
Today Raphael stands as testimony to the visionary goal of the Founders. It is now a sprawling complex built with generous donations over the years and cares for over 300 adults and children in residence, needing relief and rehabilitation. It is a charitable organization covering a wide range of activities towards its humanitarian mission.

My assignment, as Jamie Rose from Momenta told me, would be a ‘real challenge’ as this was quite a big and spread out NGO, with many different areas to cover and also to gain trust with the CEO as previous photographers did not meet the CEOs requirements.

My first task on the first day was to restore that trust and to gain access. When I was introduced to Mr. Sinha, Raphael’s CEO, I sensed he was very reserved and even disturbed I was there. It took my guide Abey, who came along with me for translation purpose, quite a bit of talking before Mr. Sinha actually acknowledged I was there too. We spoke for at least for half an hour and I assured him that I was there only to help and that I planned to create a series of photos to show what great work Raphael is doing for his patients and their children and that these photos can be used by Raphael in many different fundraising schemes and that I would like to show the outside world the result of their hard work. There was a slight moment that I sensed he was going to deny my access, but i persevered and in the end I could convince him that i was there to help Raphael.

Because Raphael is such a big NGO i decided to cover as much as i could but do a seperate story about their Leprosy Vilage “Shiv Sadan”, this village/complex has individual housing units. The residents, which are cured leprosy residents, are provided with all the basic necessities of life. In turn, based on their capabilities they assist in Raphael’s day-to-day activities like weaving, carpentry, electrical work, plumbing and gardening, leading a life of dignity and contributing to the well being of the community.

I am very grateful and thankful to the residents of Shiv Sadan, in the 10 days i’ve documented their daily lives they opened their doors to me and made me feel very welcome, i sat in their doorsteps, drank homemade chai while watching their daily routines. This is an experience i will never forget and i like to say ‘dhanyavaad’.

As far as I know dhanyavad is used all over the India, probobly mostly by hindu people and shukriyah is more frequently used in north and by muslim people. As dhanyavad is a word which comes from sanskryt and shukriyah is from urdu but both can be used and both will be understood. Dhanyavaad is a more formal word which comes from sanskrit (dhanya means blessed); shukriya comes from the arabic word shukran and in india seems to be less formal (though i’m sure it it formal in pakistan)Dhanyavaad, it’s the “native” Hindi word

Dhanyavaad (native hindi) or Shukriyaa (arabic origin) there is no thank you in the word hindu.

This is the photo story about Shiv Sadan.


  • EXIF

    Shoot Date: 2011-02-01 16:33:12
    Make: Canon
    Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
    shutter: 37/8 sec. (APEX: 4)
    aperture: f/1.2
    exposure: Auto exposure
    focal length: 50.0 mm
    flash: Flash did not fire, compulsory flash mode.
    ISO speed: 400

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