Index World Press Photo
December 2009 | Edition Thirteen     

Veronica Wijaya, a 32-year-old photographer from Jakarta in Indonesia, is used to photographing disasters for the United Nations – natural calamities and post-conflict reconstruction and development.

For the gallery here she traveled to Spain to concentrate on the lives of refugees.

Their existence borders on the disastrous too but, says Veronica, is bearable because of the friendship and sense of community that the refugees share.

The three Senegalese the photographer concentrated on are Abdulah, who is 55 years old, 45-year-old Manuel Martin and Musa, 35.

Arriving in Spain, they made their way to Barcelona where they lived in a ramshackle home on a roof, which they had built themselves.

“About twenty percent of the immigrants in Spain are from Africa,” says Veronica, who used both film and digital cameras for the shoot. “Of those who are illegal, some manage to get cleaning jobs, others sell drugs. Some live on food that is thrown out in markets”.

“They arrive from their own countries - where there are many problems both financial and social – dreaming of a better life.”

The land on which the trio’s home was constructed is owned by the railway and one day in April 2008 they received notice that they would have to leave the area.

Men arrived soon afterwards to demolish their home and whilst other immigrants living nearby left to stay with people they knew, Abdulah, Manuel Martin and Musa decided to remain together.

They are constantly moved on by the police and often have to live on the street. But as Veronica found, they managed to survive.

“All their things were just left on the street when the homes were destroyed. But the three of them had many friends who were concerned to give them food and drink and provide company.”
Copyright © 2009, all rights reserved by the photographers