Women of Vision National Geographic Photographers on Assignment
Necessary Angels, 2008
Lynn JohnsonLynn Johnson

Necessary Angels, 2008

Her fingers gnarled by leprosy, health worker Sakubai Gite examines a two-year-old girl she delivered and still cares for in a rural village. Gite, 32, is one of the many women from the Dalit, or Untouchables, caste that serve as village healthcare providers, delivering preventative care to some of India’s poorest. Trained by the Comprehensive Rural Heath Program, or Jamkhed as it also known, these women deliver babies, teach about nutrition, and help improve sanitation conditions.

When Gite contracted leprosy as a teenager, her husband banished her from their home. Instead of sinking in to isolation, she was embraced by the women at Jamkhed. She is now regarded by the people in the village as a wise and trustworthy person. “We wanted to show that a cured leprosy patient can be a village health worker,” Gite says. “Today I am even permitted to deliver babies.”



December 2008 Cover  Read more Necessary Angels coverage.


Other Photos by Lynn Johnson