Long before I was diagnosed with HIV I was invested in photojournalism. My desire to explore the world and tell tales of beauty, of horror, of injustice and of defiance drove me around the world.
The hardships of the fight against human trafficking and prostitution have always had a special fascination to me. In January 2012 I had the opportunity to go to Kathmandu, Nepal; to visit the NGO “Maiti Nepal” – to photograph their premises and the work they were doing, to observe the courageous men and women who fought against human trafficking in the region.
I went there to document the survivors of sex trafficking, regaining a foothold in their new, free lives. The lawyers and inspectors, defying death threats to press for prosecution of criminals and create awareness in society. The inspectors at the highly polluted traffic intersections and borders; rescuing children out of the grasp of their abductors.
The weeks I spent in Kathmandu were an intense experience, a strain on my nerves. But witnessing the courage and strength of the Maiti Nepal community was uplifting and inspiring.
In retrospect, my future was foreshadowed in those weeks. The only portraits I was allowed to take were the unmentioned victims of forced prostitution. The ones that lived in a compound far away, suffering of the consequences that had been given to them at birth.
The children who were born with HIV.
(Maiti Nepal laid the groundwork for the story I intended to work on in 2014. Because of this trip, I went to the Rescue Foundation in Pune, India – where I was diagnosed myself. I love the way life lays its tracks to follow…)