Buscando a SHANTI / The search for Shanti Rajasthan India

by Viveca Venegas

Shanti tiene cuatro hijos y vive con su esposo y tiene dos hijas y dos hijos. Durante los últimos 13 años de mi vida me he dedicado a recoger personas como ella, mayormente niños y educarlos además de alimentarlos y protegerlos. Haré lo mismo con esta familia y posiblemente con otros en mismo estado de pobreza que me encuentre al momento de mi visita. No olvidemos que en momentos difíciles como ahora experimentamos todos, son los pobres los mas que sufren. Ellos no poseen la esperanza del mañana. Está en nosotros proporcionársela.

On May 8 of 2007 one of the portraits I had shot of her lovely face won me the first prize at 'The International Photo Contest of National Geographic' Spanish division. I travelled that same year in December on National Geographic Endeavour to Antarctic Circle where I spent twelve amazing days. I experienced one of the most splendid God's creations while there. I will never ever forget the beauty of those scenery's and my experience with Penguins. My photography promises to be some of the best I have ever shot. You can see some of this photos under My Images' Antarctica.

2010 Este año me preparo para ir a reencontrarme con la mujer cuya foto me ganara el Primer Premio Internacional de Fotografía de National Geographic. Esta mujer perteneciente a la casta de Los Intocables, la más baja de India, no sabe que su hermosa cara ha sido vista por millares y se ha publicado en muchos magacines y periódicos de Latinoamérica, Norte y Sur América, además de otorgarme un lugar importante entre los fotógrafos del mundo que ha sido un prestigio para Puerto Rico. Lo menos que puedo hacer es ir a encontrarla y además de llevarle copia de las publicaciones, ofrecerle una mejor calidad de vida que le asegure alimentos, albergue y cuidados de salud, además de escuela a dos de sus cuatro hijos que no poseen educación alguna.

Aqua Blue
Aqua Blue

On March 17 of 2010 I reached the village of Pockram in the state of Rajasthan. I was greeted by the Harijan's family , Shanti's comunity. It has been one of my most rewarding human experiences of my life to visit the woman who's photograph has open so many doors in my career. She was delighted to see me and together we walked the small town where I bought her the gorgeous saree she wore next day for her photo shoot. Here is one. The others you can see inside this web site.

Gypsy Family
Gypsy Family

Untouchability is a fact of life for 160 million people living in India.

They are born into a caste system that brands them as unclean. They are known as Dalits, and face discrimination in every aspect of their lives.

In the cities, caste affects your chance of getting a job or finding a place to live. Dalits are expected to use separate water taps, temples and graveyards. At school, Dalit pupils may be told to arrive early to clean the classroom for other students. And to sit at the back of the class during lessons.

According to government statistics, caste prejudice is responsible for at least 25,000 crimes against Dalits each year. Every two hours, a Dalit woman is raped. Dalits are beaten, murdered and their homes are burned.

Dalits are also the street sweepers, the toilet cleaners, the butchers and the leather workers.

Scavengers at work cleaning filth off tracks in Hyderabad. More than one million Dalits clean excrement from toilets and public facilities in India, usually with no protective clothing or equipment.
Across India, the job of more than one million Dalits is to remove human filth by hand. These workers earn about 70 dollars a month. In the cities, they clean the sewers. In rural areas they clean village toilets, which often have no water to flush away the excrement.

The bulk of India’s 160 million Dalits are landless labourers, working other people’s land in return for a share of the harvest. Even though their work isn’t considered.