Quiero vivir la vida - antonio baiano photography

I met Yadira in 1999, while shooting in a little market of Havana Vieja where her mother had a stall. When I was back in Cuba in 2001, I went to visit them in their house; Yadira at the time was ten years old and was living with her parents,the three brothers Noelki, Pipi and Daniel and her sister Yaima in a crumbling building in the Havana Vieja quarter. The family was in a difficult situation which is common to many Cuban. Great struggles for the living, health and family problems. On top of all, Yadira was suffering since time from a kidney illness and some growth deficiencies which were obliging her to frequent medical examinations and hospitalizations in the local pediatric hospital. Despite everything, Yadira was a lively little girl with all the dreams and expectancies of her peers. She was crazy for dance and very clever in staging Shakira’s songs, her favorite singer. During the period I was there her parents, Zorayda and Rodolfo, decided to consult a “babalawo”, a Santeria priest. Santeria is an Afro Cuban cult, part of everyday life of many Cubans. Apart being a religious practice for the believers, it represents a psychological support for the everyday issues of life like money, health and love problems. The babalawo sentenced the necessity of initiating Yadira to Santeria for the ricovery from her health problems. My journey to Cuba was intended to document Santeria culture. So the initiation of Yadira was an important issue to be included in the work. But it was clear that the story of Yadira was something more and so I focused not only on the Santeria influences but also on the everyday issues and stages of life of this little cuban girl, common to many of her peers. Yadira is now twenty-three; she is in health and recovered from the kidney illness but is often underweight. She got married and gave birth to a baby in September. With her family, she runs a small family business making clothing and tablecloths for restaurants but they have to work very hard to raise enough for the living and sometimes they don’t. The little openness made by the government brought unnoticeable improvement to their life. On top of all, Rodolfo is an alcohol addicted since long time. His hangovers can last various days and Zorayda has to move at one of her sons’ house; and it can happen that Yadira and Zorayda prefer to spend the night wandering through the city to stay away from home. Yadira faces with her family all the adversities with the typical cuban stoicism and irony. They’re always ready for a laugh or a joke. This is a way to survive a life that would be otherwise more difficult to live. When Yadira was a little girl, her favorite song was Shakira’s “Suerte”. A love song whose chorus repeats “(contigo) quiero vivir la vida” “(with you) I want to live my life”. Unwittingly, these words are for me representative of the resolution of Yadira and her family in dealing with the everyday difficulties.

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