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Marlene

There are an estimated 403,000 people living in modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). Sex trafficking exists throughout the country. Traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary, many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces them into prostitution. Others are lured with false promises of a job, and some are forced to sell sex by members of their own families. Victims of sex trafficking include both foreign nationals and US citizens, with women making up the majority of those trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking. Marlene was 15 years old when she was forced in to prostitution by a couple that lived in her neighbourhood. She was taken around the country forced to provide sexual services for eight months. Carson now works to provide services and support to other young girls have been trafficked in to prostitution.

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Leah Albright-Byrd

There are an estimated 403,000 people living in modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). Sex trafficking exists throughout the country. Traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary, many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces them into prostitution. Others are lured with false promises of a job, and some are forced to sell sex by members of their own families. Victims of sex trafficking include both foreign nationals and US citizens, with women making up the majority of those trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking. Leah ran away from home when she was 14 years old. She went to live her drug dealer in Sacremento who soon forced her to ‘contribute to the household’ by providing sexual services. Leah was in the life for four years before she was able to escape. She speaks of the role faith has had in enabling her to work through her trauma.

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Noel Gomez

There are an estimated 403,000 people living in modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). Sex trafficking exists throughout the country. Traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary, many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces them into prostitution. Others are lured with false promises of a job, and some are forced to sell sex by members of their own families. Victims of sex trafficking include both foreign nationals and US citizens, with women making up the majority of those trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking. Noel was coerced into becoming a prostitute in Seattle when she was 16. She spent 15 years in the life, trying to escape numerous times and being subjected to physical and sexual abuse on a daily basis. When she was finally able to escape, Noel managed to get a job, a degree and founded her own organisation to help other women and girls subjected to forced sexual exploitation in the city.

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Esther Caukill

It is estimated that an estimated 37,000 people are living in modern slavery in Japan (GSI 2018). The country is the destination for men, women and children trafficked for forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. The majority of trafficking victims are foreign women who migrate willingly seeking work, but find themselves trapped in debt bondage, having to work in domestic and sex work to pay off fees incurred. Despite warning from the U.N., it is reported that human trafficking is on the rise in Japan. International Children’s Care Advocate Esther Caukill shares her story of finding peace after being trafficked for sexual exploitation to Japan when she was 19.

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Marisol

There are an estimated 403,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). The US attracts migrants and refugees who are particularly at risk of vulnerability to human trafficking. Trafficking victims often responding to fraudulent offers of employment in the US migrate willingly and are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in industries such as forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Marisol Garcia Bejarano spent seventeen years in prison for a crime she did not commit. A survivor of human trafficking she was trafficked from Tijuana to California and was raped and beaten by her trafficker. Marisol witnessed a murder committed by the man who bought her for $200 when she was just thirteen years old. After years of holding her as his domestic servant and sexual slave, he then framed Marisol for his murder, and she went to a California prison for his crime.

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Juana

There are an estimated 403,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). The US attracts migrants and refugees who are particularly at risk of vulnerability to human trafficking. Trafficking victims often responding to fraudulent offers of employment in the US migrate willingly and are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in industries such as forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation.  Juana first travelled from the Philippines to Kuwait in 1985 where she was subjected to domestic slavery. Locked in her employer’s house and unable to communicate with her family. From here, Juana’s ex-husband’s sister helped her leave Kuwait and travel to the United States. Here she became a domestic worker where she suffered withholding of pay and unfair dismissal. With the help of a local grassroots organisations, Juana was able to win back her unpaid wages and now works with the organisation to help other domestic workers in the US.

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Meere Afro Foods

Letitia Kamayi: You Should Know Me

Artist’s Statement Kongo: You Should Know Me was my selfish way of learning more about my past, my ancestors through the images of my kinfolk. Unfortunately, the archive institutions I approached all asked for paperwork I could not supply; money I could not pay and questions I did not understand how to answer.

Only one missionary based in Ghent; the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, opened its doors and visual records to me and through them I was able to see a small percentage of the Congolese story before me. Though happy to have this access, I was not too overjoyed by everything I saw. There was a host of missing stories not recorded, stories that my family and friends families experienced. Chapters and verses missing from the identity of the Congolese narrative. Thus Kongo: You Should Know Me evolved to Kongo Archives.

Kongo Archives is extremely personal to me not merely because I am Congolese but also because there is a lot about my country I do not know and am searching for. I believe it is also something desperately needed, especially as our country’s political structure hangs in the global balance.

It’s a necessity even!

Culture; traditions; customs; language and pretty much everything has always been passed down orally through the stories in African customs, and now too many of those who did the passing down are fast passing away, taking with them all our history and rightful heritage. Taking away my rightful heritage, my story, my future and connection to a national identity.

It is a cliché to say, however Kongo Archives gives a voice to every Congolese person, travelling further than just those within the confines of the project. The archives is the stories of the past, the present and a storage unit where future stories can be placed when they become part of our inevitable past.

It [Kongo Archives] is here to topple the power structures of the single story of Congolese identity, working to reform the world’s understanding of, and have embedded notions questioned of a people whose stories and lives were second to the arrival of their colonial history and identity killers.

Bringing light to the stories which humanise the “so-called beasts from the dark continent” which continues till this day to suffer from decades of war and conflict whilst also being the wealthiest in natural minerals; culture and fight for peace one day.

Being Congolese I see our hidden presence in the “strangest” places, though this should not be a “strange” sight, this is the importance which representation brings! Change to people’s (and my own) opinions and views of those they are not well informed about. Kongo Archives will bring light to the multilayers of the Congolese people both residing in and out of The Motherland. It is important to have this representation to solidify the very absent Congolese presence outside of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in places such as London; Paris and Belgium as a positive display of unity; positive contribution and patriotism.

Kongo Archives aims to bring the Congolese heritage full circle through exposing the parts of our (Congolese) past and current state the world has and continues to fail to reveal. Breaking down the stereotypes of the poorest; “most dangerous place on earth to be a woman” to a country with a vast potential of peace; unconditional source of love and fight given the chance for change within its power structures.

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Eden Gospel

Letitia Kamayi: You Should Know Me

Artist’s Statement Kongo: You Should Know Me was my selfish way of learning more about my past, my ancestors through the images of my kinfolk. Unfortunately, the archive institutions I approached all asked for paperwork I could not supply; money I could not pay and questions I did not understand how to answer.

Only one missionary based in Ghent; the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, opened its doors and visual records to me and through them I was able to see a small percentage of the Congolese story before me. Though happy to have this access, I was not too overjoyed by everything I saw. There was a host of missing stories not recorded, stories that my family and friends families experienced. Chapters and verses missing from the identity of the Congolese narrative. Thus Kongo: You Should Know Me evolved to Kongo Archives.

Kongo Archives is extremely personal to me not merely because I am Congolese but also because there is a lot about my country I do not know and am searching for. I believe it is also something desperately needed, especially as our country’s political structure hangs in the global balance.

It’s a necessity even!

Culture; traditions; customs; language and pretty much everything has always been passed down orally through the stories in African customs, and now too many of those who did the passing down are fast passing away, taking with them all our history and rightful heritage. Taking away my rightful heritage, my story, my future and connection to a national identity.

It is a cliché to say, however Kongo Archives gives a voice to every Congolese person, travelling further than just those within the confines of the project. The archives is the stories of the past, the present and a storage unit where future stories can be placed when they become part of our inevitable past.

It [Kongo Archives] is here to topple the power structures of the single story of Congolese identity, working to reform the world’s understanding of, and have embedded notions questioned of a people whose stories and lives were second to the arrival of their colonial history and identity killers.

Bringing light to the stories which humanise the “so-called beasts from the dark continent” which continues till this day to suffer from decades of war and conflict whilst also being the wealthiest in natural minerals; culture and fight for peace one day.

Being Congolese I see our hidden presence in the “strangest” places, though this should not be a “strange” sight, this is the importance which representation brings! Change to people’s (and my own) opinions and views of those they are not well informed about. Kongo Archives will bring light to the multilayers of the Congolese people both residing in and out of The Motherland. It is important to have this representation to solidify the very absent Congolese presence outside of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in places such as London; Paris and Belgium as a positive display of unity; positive contribution and patriotism.

Kongo Archives aims to bring the Congolese heritage full circle through exposing the parts of our (Congolese) past and current state the world has and continues to fail to reveal. Breaking down the stereotypes of the poorest; “most dangerous place on earth to be a woman” to a country with a vast potential of peace; unconditional source of love and fight given the chance for change within its power structures.

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Srey Neth

There are an estimated 261,000 people living in modern slavery in Cambodia (GSI 2018). The country was renowned as a sex tourism destination in the 1990s and this legacy is still prevalent today with women and girls trafficked within the thriving sex industry in Cambodia's major cities. Despite significant attempts to curb CSE, NGOs report the industry has been pushed underground and sex offenders are still able to purchase sex with children through an intermediary rather than more overt selling of sex in brothels. Boys and young men are also vulnerable to sexual exploitation, with many entering the massage industry due to a lack of training and skills.  Srey Neth is a young Cambodian victim of human trafficking. In this story she speaks of her experience transitioning from victim to survivor. At 14 she was sold by her mother to a pimp for $300; a week later he sold her virginity for the same price then he forced her to serve 10-20 men per night afterwards. Her refusal was met with beatings or electrocution. Srey Neth was later rescued by police and a non-governmental organization. During her recovery, which unsurprisingly has taken more than five years, she was diagnosed with HIV.

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Bennu

There are an estimated 3.8 million people living in conditions of modern slavery in Chian (GSI 2018). Women and girls from South Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa are trafficked in to forced marriage in the country for fees of up to £30,000. The gender imbalance caused by the One Child Policy and the cultural preference for male children, has caused a shortage of women which has led to the trafficking of women to be sold as brides. As a result many women find themselves either deceived by promises of employment, sold or abducted and forced into marrying Chinese men who have paid for them. Kachin people are an ethnic minority who are predominantly Christian. Armed conflict between Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army has made life in the area difficult. This was exacerbated in 2011 with the end of a cease fire that left over 100,000 people internally displaced. In the camp where many of these people live there is little opportunity to earn a living. The government have made it worse by blocking aid to displaced people. This has led to women and girls becoming particularly vulnerable to trafficking as they search for jobs outside the country, often in China.  Bennu was living in a Kachin refugee camp when she was trafficked to China and forced to have a sexual relationship with a Chinese man. She was also forced to do all the housework. Bennu was able to escape with the help of a fellow Kachin man.

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Seng Mai

There are an estimated 3.8 million people living in conditions of modern slavery in Chian (GSI 2018). Women and girls from South Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa are trafficked in to forced marriage in the country for fees of up to £30,000. The gender imbalance caused by the One Child Policy and the cultural preference for male children, has caused a shortage of women which has led to the trafficking of women to be sold as brides. As a result many women find themselves either deceived by promises of employment, sold or abducted and forced into marrying Chinese men who have paid for them. Kachin people are an ethnic minority who are predominantly Christian. Armed conflict between Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army has made life in the area difficult. This was exacerbated in 2011 with the end of a cease fire that left over 100,000 people internally displaced. In the camp where many of these people live there is little opportunity to earn a living. The government have made it worse by blocking aid to displaced people. This has led to women and girls becoming particularly vulnerable to trafficking as they search for jobs outside the country, often in China.   Seng Mai was a teenager when she was trafficked from Kachin State to China and sold to a Chinese family as a bride. Held against her will and subjected to sexual slavery but managed to escape after several months.  

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Thomas Mukambilwa

Managing Director of African Support and Project Centre Mukambilwa advocates for the improvement of Congolese lives in London through educational and health events

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JJ Bola

Writer, Poet, Educator, Human. Author of No Place to Call Home. Spoken word poet turned author, Bola has read and spoken internationally at TedTalks and festivals.

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Vava Tampa

Founder of Save the Congo; Activist and Rhumba lover. Tampa has been advocating for peace and justice in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2008.

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Extended Nuclear is Nuclear

Uncle and wife adopts nieces and nephews who move into the city, Kinshasa Unknown baby now deceased.

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Musengwa na Makanda-Kabobi, Nsele

Title translates to Musengwa at Political Bureau Meeting Possible attendees: President Mobutu Sese Seko; Major company CEOs; Generals; Secret Services; Home Secretaries; Department Heads.

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Julienne Ledi Oniumbe, Photo Luc, 1971

Daughter of Tonton Oniumbe Jules, Gecamines Employee, Lumbumbashi

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Okapi

Okapi, Congolese and African Cuisine

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Mbongo Contre Mbongo

Mbongo Contre Mbongo, Barbers Barber name translates from Lingala/French as "Money against Money"

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La Difference

La Difference, Barbers Barbershop name translates from French as "The Difference."