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I Am Rachel

Gemma Taylor | Namibia

Organization: International HIV/AIDS Alliance

"Let's be proud of who we are; being a sex-worker, being a trans-woman, but first and foremost a human being, with dignity and integrity." Rachel

As a transgender woman Rachel knows only too well what it means to experience stigma. Her family disowned her when she was just 12, and in order to survive she lived off a rubbish dump and sold sex for food and money. Despite her experiences Rachel is a strong woman who is proud of her identity: "Let's be proud of who we are, being a sex worker, being a trans-woman, but first and foremost a human being, with dignity and integrity." She has founded Voice of Hope, a community-based organisation in Walvis Bay, Namibia. She plans to support her peers to improve sex workers knowledge of their human rights and to increase their access to sexual health and HIV prevention services. I am Rachel is her personal story.

Still and multimedia production: Gemma Taylor Footage and multimedia production: Rino Pucci

As an NGO photographer a critical aspect of my work is to consider how people are represented. Time is taken at the start of each project (with no cameras) to get to know the person or people involved and for them to engage with the project and consider how they want to be represented and influence the production. It is also important to me not to show someone as one-dimensional, e.g. just as a sex worker or service beneficiary, but to show them as a daughter; member of the community; business person etc. Then, when I know all parties are happy and find value in the project, I can concentrate on the story and the aesthetics.

International HIV/AIDS Alliance, UK Positive Vibes, Namibia Out-Right, Namibia Voice of Hope, Namibia

Gemma Taylor gemma.brighton@gmail.com

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