ESTHER YANDAKWA, KINSHASA, DRC
Esther Yandakwa, age 13, lives on the mean streets of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic Of Congo. She only knows this life and survives on prostitution and petty crimes. Esther has lived this life since she was 6-7 years old. I first met her in 2006 while doing a story on street children in Kinshasa. She was among a group of girl’s aged 13-14, but Esther was only 9 years old but looked many years older. Smoking cigarettes, marijuana, crack and drinking whiskey, she was high most of the time. The girls went often went to a drug house full of street children before heading out on the streets to sell their bodies. Esther has been in and out of orphanages but she is a very difficult case. She was most of the time a bad influence on the other children and she was often kicked out on the street again. Now four years later, I recently caught up with her and spend a week documenting her life. She looks a bit older but otherwise much has not changed. She still wants to get off the streets but it is very hard, if not impossible. She is one of tens of thousands of street children in Kinshasa. Many are kicked out of their families because of witchcraft, or the parents can't longer afford to pay for them so they are accused of witchcraft and kicked out. Some children are also affected by the recent civil war in the Eastern part of the country. Image 1-9 shows here life in 2006 & Image 10-19 shows her life in 2010. This is an on-going project.