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New Book Explores Poor Workers, Impact of High-Quality Child Care in India

Duke alumna Sara Gomez explores her subject through photographs and narrative writing

In her new book, Duke University alumna Sara Gomez explores through photographs and narrative writing how poor, self-employed women workers in India are able to provide high-quality child care for their families and the benefits that result from that care.

Gomez will participate in a book signing and reception on Wednesday, April 5, in the lobby of the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, at the corner of Science and Towerview drives on Duke's West Campus. The event, which runs from 5:30--6:30 p.m., is part of Duke's larger series of events for South Asia Awareness Week.

The book, "Together We Do Good Work: SEWA's Child Care Program in Gujarat, India," was edited and produced by the Lewis Hine Documentary Initiative at Duke's Center for Documentary Studies. It is based on months of fieldwork that Gomez conducted in 2000-01 in India as a Hart Fellow in the Hart Leadership Program at the Sanford Institute.

"Together We Do Good Work" focuses on SEWA, The Self Employed Women's Association, an organization of poor, self-employed women in India who earn a living through their own labor or small businesses. The issue depicted in this book -- providing high-quality early childcare so that mothers can work and families can thrive -- is important not only to SEWA members, but also to families and communities around the world.

SEWA will use this publication for its own advocacy and fundraising to increase its ability to offer childcare to more of its 500,000 members. By distributing this book widely to individuals, foundations, government agencies and organizations interested in early child care issues, the Sanford Institute ( and CDS ( hope to highlight the "best practices" and to show the importance of early child care for the social development of children and as a way to alleviate poverty. 

Duke was one of the first universities in the United States to make documentary photography, writing, video and radio part of its undergraduate curriculum. Since 1975, in a growing, wide range of courses, Duke students have learned that policy issues like immigration, aging, poverty or illness can be approached not only by studying the literature on these issues, but also by getting to know and documenting individuals who face these issues. Some students from these undergraduate classes, like Gomez, are eligible for postgraduate Hart Fellowships ( or Lewis Hine Documentary Fellowships (

Many fellows go on to work in areas they focused on during their fellowships. Gomez is currently studying for a master's degree in maternal and child health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.