The Decisive Moment is a family of photojournalists that are passionate about story telling images. One of the aspects of our team of photographers that I LOVE is that they use their skills to tell all kind of stories! They use their talents in varying situations that are always challenging them to look at things in a new light, with an open heart and a discerning eye. In some of these situations they choose to donate their skill to help tell important stories that need to be heard to illicit change. Jean Shifrin, who has been with The Decisive Moment since it’s beginning recently did just that…..
“I have recently completed my fourth trip to India to document the work of Rising Star Outreach, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to eradicate the scourge of leprosy in India and to improve the lives of those who are affected by it. RSO is committed to not only wiping out the disease, but to helping leprosy-affected people to live with dignity and to achieve self-sufficiency.
I have seen with my own eyes the amazing work that RSO is doing to positively change the lives of many people who had previously been cast aside and forgotten. For the first time in their lives, many of the adults in leprosy colonies are able to hold their heads up and feel good about themselves. And for the first time in their lives, they can support themselves and their families with meaningful work – selling fish, trimming beards or crafting beautiful wood furniture – rather than begging on the streets.
With the help of Rising Star Outreach, the leprosy-affected adults and their children are able to break free of the stigma of someone born in a leprosy colony and stop the cycle of disease, malnutrition and humiliation that has pervaded in India for generations. Instead of begging in the streets, the children at the RSO schools are often the first in their families to be educated and learn English – they are learning skills that will allow them to become proud, productive citizens.
But their work is far from over. And that is why I have volunteered to document the work they are doing and to show the work that still needs to be done. Much progress has been made since RSO was founded in 2001, but it is a long and complicated process.
All you have to do is look into the faces of these beautiful children and know that it is a goal worth pursuing. For more information, please visit www.risingstaroutreach.org.” Jean Shifrin