© All photos and video content by Mariella Furrer www.mariellafurrer.com
Daughters of Mary Immaculate (DMI) is a society of nuns devoted to helping women and girls in East Africa. Founded in 1984, DMI serves the poor and suffering in the slums and rural areas in Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and South Sudan. In addition to the shelter for trafficked girls (Spring of Hope), DMI operates medical clinics, AIDs treatment centers for mothers and children, and women’s empowerment groups. It is one of the last aid groups still working in South Sudan.
DMI’s efforts are led by Sr. Viji , (one of the founding members of DMI), who became a nun to devote her life to the poor. She began her career by organizing low-caste farm workers in Tamil Nadu, India where she is from. She organized a work-stoppage before the harvest that won higher wages for workers. In the wake of the strike, rumors surfaced that landowners had put a price on her life. Her order moved her for her safety. In 2011, she came to Africa to continue her mission. With no place to live at first, she and her sisters lived under a tree until housing was built. Today, as mission director for DMI’s work in Africa, she leads a team of nuns and lay staff that provides community-based healthcare, microfinance, job training and food security in Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and South Sudan.
DMI has increased Spring of Hope’s census each year to accommodate the large number of trafficking victims in Tanzania.