There are times when the Universe works so precisely at making coincidence happen in my favour that sometimes I wonder if it’s not reading my mind. Thanks to its recent workings in Mexico City, I saw the first successful return of a disposable camera by a street child. It was camera No. 8 and the boy’s name was Miguel Ángel.

I met Miguel Ángel in the Phase 1 home of Casa Alianza. He makes a brief appearance in an earlier video on this blog and he was an enthusiastic participant of the photography project. But, as I continue to learn and re-learn, the call of the street is stronger than the promise of stability and Miguel Ángel could not resist its cries. I was more than a little surprised to see him outside the Casa Alianza offices in Reforma – I wasn’t aware he had escaped. Although, on seeing him it was unmistakeable: the tired smile, the droopy eyes, the unwashed clothes. He asked me about el curso de fotografía. As it happened, I was about to go and take a session with his old housemates. He wanted to join but, of course, he couldn’t straight of the street, so we came to a compromise. He could still be involved if he would record a week in his life on the streets. We arranged to meet outside the offices the next day to follow up and exchange the camera. He never turned up. I left with a heavy heart and the camera still in my bag.

Two days later I was on my way home from the Sony Studios when I decided last minute to make a pit stop at the office for a reason that now escapes me. I jumped off the train at Metro Hidalgo as the doors slammed. I remember being in a pessimistic sort of a mood that day because I was huffing and puffing my way up the stairs. Then, like a love story (which, I must assure you, this is not), I looked up and saw him and he seemed to me like a sign sent from the Heavens. Miguel Ángel was standing there watching, just people-watching. He saw me and smiled.

“Hola, Ale.”

“Miguel Ángel! What are you doing here?”

“Nothing. Just watching. I’m sorry I couldn’t come the other day.”

We took out a couple of minutes to sit on the top step and make a list of themes, including family, food, fear, fun (please excuse the alliteration), daily life and interest. I noted down the next meeting date for a week later. We would meet outside the Casa Alianza office 11am sharp. I hand over to you to guess the next part.

Indeed, I’m supposing you guessed right – Miguel Ángel was a no-show and I thought I’d lost another camera. But the Universe has its ways; later that day it put me on that same metro train, only this time at rush hour. As more people piled on at Hidalgo and I was crushed cheek by jowl into the next perspiring commuter, the Universe knew I would not bear it a moment longer. I decided I could do with the exercise of walking and fought my way off, heading this time for a different exit. I hurried past a pair of boys huddled together in the corner of the stairs. “Ale!” I ignored it. “Ale! I have your camera!

He’d done it. He had taken the photos; he hadn’t lost the camera, sold it or given it to a friend to look after. I have given him the address of this page because he was eager to see his work on the internet. He won’t understand what this says but I know he will be proud.

Miguel Ángel – for I know you will recognise your name if not what comes next – proud you should be and proud you have done me! Gracias!

A glimpse at a week in the life of 15 year old Miguel Ángel who left the house of his parents 3 years ago and has been on and off the streets ever since.

This is where I'm staying at the moment, it's where I eat, sleep and shower. It's free but you have to say prayers and read a Bible before you receive bedding and food because it's Catholic. I don't mind because I'm religious. My favourite book of the Bible is Revelations.

This is what I was given to eat on that day - chicken, bread and sweet bread. It changes daily though. About 15 people come and queue for the food every day.

I always come to these stairs at the metro. Everyday I come to watch people from this angle, there's never ever a day goes by when I don't

This Andrés. He's the only family I have. He's like a brother to me. He's the only person in the world who knows everything about my life.

This is the playground where I often come alone to sniff glue. I come here because there are hardly any people. When I'm high I don't think about anything, I like to lie back and look at the sky.

This was an exhibiton of the body. They do regular talks on how to look after yourself, your heart and your health. I'm really interested in the body and how to cure people. When I'm older I would like to be a doctor. I read a lot about cells and neurones.

This is the celebrations for the Chinese New Year. This is the year of the rabbit. I went alone, I usually go to see things alone.

This is the street I walk through to get to the place where I'm staying at the moment. I usually come home around 11 or 12 at night. It's very dark and lonely and I get scared.

 

I want to show the contamination in my city. I never throw my litter on the street but people throw their's and no one picks it up. That's why we have so many rats here.

 

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