Written by: Jennifer Heemskerk
As I was sitting, listening to all that Smita had to share about the Mahima home, my heart just wept for the young women and girls that were having to live this horrific journey of sexual exploitation. I silently prayed and asked God to show me what I could do to help. I knew that our family could support, in a small way, with financial giving, but I knew that our donation wouldn’t go very far on its own. I wanted to bring awareness about this issue as well as raise additional funds that could be used to rescue and give hope to these girls. The Lord has blessed me with a gift of capturing life through the lens of my camera. I had done photo session in that past, as a hobby, so I thought, what if I offer family portraits on the basis of donation. Families book some time with me, get updated photos and all of the money they wish to give goes to Mahima. I think in the past 3 years I have been offering this, thousands of dollars has been raised.
Henri Nouwen once wrote: “Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”
I am a mother of three little women and one son. It makes me weep to think about these young girls, who are of the same age as my own girls, that are often raped several times a night, and exploited in such evil ways. It’s modern day slavery. Their innocence is being taken from them over and over again. Just writing this makes me undone. The Lord has placed it on my heart to share in their brokenness, to weep with them and challenged me to cry out for those in misery. Even though I am a world away, I can offer hope to these precious people by helping raise awareness about this issue.
When I first began “Photos for Mahima” many people had never heard of Mahima or how bad the issue was in Kolkata, India. But once they heard about it, they couldn’t be ignorant anymore…and most wanted to give more to the cause.
In the Bible, the Lord states that we are worth “more than sparrows.” Whenever I envision a bird, I don’t picture it being imprisoned in a cage. The reality is, that is where some of these women, living in the brothels, are right now. They are trapped, unable to be the person that God meant them to be. Mahima helps to rescue and restore young women – breaking them free from their cages, so to speak. The love, protection and hope that Mahima brings to these young women shows God’s promise that they are truly loved by Him, that He has not forgotten them, and that they really are, in fact worth “more than sparrows”.