by Mary Ferreira

Filming in Vrindavan in a crowded marketplace.

Filming in Vrindavan in a crowded marketplace.

We visited India to film a few stories for UN Television at the end of 2010.  One of the pieces dealt with the plight of widows in the Holy City of Vrindavan where most widows settle, waiting to die. It was indeed heart wrenching to see how some widows struggle to survive in the streets.

We followed one widow who now lives in an Ashram founded by Dr. Mohini Giri, an activist, who fights to end poverty and hunger in India. Dr. Giri also works closely with widows offering them a better life.

During this shoot, we visited several places — New Delhi, Agra, Vrindavan, Bundelkhand and Varanasi.  The distances between each location were hundreds of miles apart requiring travel by car, train and plane but it was a rewarding experience because of the wealth of footage we captured while there.  It was quite a hectic mission.

We also found out that in northern and central India, the Act of Sati (self-immolation) still occurs occasionally even though the British banned the practice in 1829.  Later in 1987 the Indian Government ratified the Sati Prevention Act.

However, Dr. Giri continues her fight to improve the lives of widows but it’s often a challenge convincing them to leave the streets for a more comfortable life. Some of these women believe that it is their destiny to suffer in widowhood until death calls.

Our nimble team comprised of cameraman, Joaquim Vieira; fixer Sachi Maniar; driver Mr. Singh; and producer Mary Ferreira.

Link to radio story:

Full Episode: