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                   Personal story from Clichy-sous-Bois
                                                         Hawa Camera            


long-term project from Clichy-sous-bois

I met Hawa Camara in October 2017. She was back then 26 years old with three children, the oldest one had 8 years.

We met in one of the parks in Clichy-sous-bois, impoverished neighborhood on the outskirts of Paris, where she was taking a break with her daughter and her boyfriend Diack. After our first meeting, we started to see each other at her flat  and I proposed to photograph her.

I was very curious how is it to live in such a marginalised neighborhood on the outskirts of Paris. When we met in 2017, Hawa was still a shy girl, often hidden in her scarf and her long Islamic outfit.  Slowly, even through objections and slight jealousy of Diack for our friendship, we were becoming good friends.

Diack and Hawa grew up in Nanterre. Hawa’s family is originally from Senegal. When she was 16, she became pregnant, and she moved to the flat in Clichy-sous-bois that Diack rented on his name. At the same time, as it is normal in Muslim culture, he had a relationship with another woman, with whom he has three children. The second woman lives just three floors above Hawa.

The relationship slowly began to collapse. She became completely tired of Diack because of his oppression towards her, and his recklessness towards their children (Idrissa, Sagata and Worrya). He never played or occupied himself with them. He was just supporting them a bit financially, giving them some money from the child benefits that he received from the government, bringing them food from time to time. He worked in the delivery services and had little money to support all of his children.

Hawa started to be more independent, dropped off the scarf and Islamic belief as it was just blocking her from her freedom and her dream to become a singer.  More she was pushing Diack away, less he was coming home and even less giving her money for the children. She finds herself in the tough situation. She got some support from her siblings, but with actually no house to go to. Now Hawa dreams of getting out of Clichy sous bois, finding a job to support herself and to be able to live independently and begin to sing again. In August 2019, I found Hawa in Bobigny, Avicenne hospital in Paris, where she was hospitalized because of her genetic disease drepanocytose. When she came back, she found out that her children were not good taken care off by their father. They were sleeping in school and not wearing clean clothes. After the visit of the social services at their house, judge has decided to place the children to the shelter in Paris. Their father left back to Mali and Hawa stayed alone in the house having difficulties to live in the apartement without children. She rented the apartment to the guys who hang out often on the streets in Clichy and who from time to time use it as a chilling nest. She decided to stay with her mum in Nanterre. Now visits the children every two weeks in the weekend. In the meantime, she tries to find her joy in singing and forming a band.

Nassim, Mustafa en Tayfun are three friends who live next to each other in Chateu Rouge, Clichy sous Bois. They hang around, go to the same college and growing up together. Most of the time they just follow the people around, going around the blocks with the bike or listening to hip-hop on the street.

I started to get to know them in September 2014 when I first arrived to Clichy. They were still about 12 years old. Since that time they became my returning point and my grateful models. Whenever I come back to Clichy I found them playing on the little square of Chateau Rouge. All of them they were born in France, but their parents came to France from Turkey and Algerie. 

With my photos I observe the change in them, how they are growing up in the ghetto and how it influences them.

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