Defender of the poor, Jharkhand nun up for women’s creativity prize
Sister Jessy Maria is one of 10 finalists for the Women’s Creativity in Rural Life Prize awarded by the Geneva-based WWSF. She has always worked with the weakest and with an eye to protecting the environment.
Jharkhand (AsiaNews) – Sister Jessy Maria, a member of the congregation of the Sisters of the Little Flower of Bethany in Jharkhand (state in north-eastern India), is among the 10 candidates for the Women’s Creativity in Rural Life Prize, an award given by the Geneva-based Women's World Summit Foundation (WWSF) (Switzerland).
Sister Jessy is assistant superior provincial and coordinator of the social and medical apostolate in the State of Jharkhand, based in Ranchi.
In her life she has always worked with tribal communities in inland villages or in difficult areas such as the slums of Jharkhand and Haryana.
In such places, she has worked helping the downtrodden, educating slum children and working to empower marginalised women. She has also contributed to the protection of the environment.
“I was in West Sighbum district working with the Ho tribe,” she said, speaking to AsiaNews. “Every day the locals cut down trees and sold firewood to survive. The firewood was transported every day by a local train."
This bothered her a lot, so much so that she decided on a plan to counter deforestation. The goal was to raise awareness about the environment, motivate people to stop cutting down trees, and get them to plant new trees with the contribution of the Forest Department.
With respect to the environment and care for the "Common Home", the nun was also involved in water resource management in Badibahal, Sambalpur district (Odisha), a region where water supplies are a challenge.
“We undertook many projects that involved collecting and managing rainwater for use in irrigation,” she explains. “Work in the countryside was easier and more profitable for the poor in the area.”
Above all Sister Jessy has put all her strength to help the poor and be close to the weakest. To this end, she was sent to the slums of Faridabad (Haryana).
“Here I realised the need to be close to the most fragile groups. Thus, I decided to work for child literacy.” She laments that “Often the children don’t get an educated and are exploited doing the most disparate jobs.”
Sister Jessy also contributed to setting up “so-called ‘self-help’ groups” to empower marginalised women “through vocational training and learning how to enter the job market.”
In Damruhat, a village in Jharkhand, her contribution was considerable in the fight against human trafficking.
“We set up many small autonomous groups,” she said, “with members well informed about the seriousness of this crime”, each not only to reporting to the competent authorities, but also raising awareness among the local population on how to oppose such trafficking.