After eight years of residing in a city does one become so accustomed to the in-your-face-reality of homelessness that you no longer see it? Homelessness in Bogota is everywhere, the less fortunate are all around and are as important to the fabric of this city as the ubiquitous lottery salesmen outside your nearest supermarket, the pirate DVD peddlars of San Andresito, the European-resembling waifs of Rosales and the lost looking police Auxiliares in the Candelaria.
Slowly and surely, I will continue to photograph this more, compiling a more accurate portrait. Most shots have been taken near to where I live. One thing has led to another and given that I am newly freelance once again – after a lengthy 12 day fling with formal employment – I have started to investigate the theme and reality of homelessness in Bogota. According to an article published in El Espectador newspaper the official number of people living rough has reached 9,413 in Bogota. Frankly, I don’t know how the Disctrict has come up with this figure and how they managed to keep it so low. I would argue that before the infamous area of the Bronx was cleared out, there would have been more than 2000 suffering people inhabiting that particular stretch of misery.
I think that someone should possibly start to document the stories of the homeless in Bogota. There are initiatives elsewhere in the world starting to draw attention to this problem. Can we start to detail the stories of how these human beings came to be in this terrible situation. Are they victims of forced displacement from the internal conflict, are they victims of abuse, drug addicts or have just fallen on impossibly hard times.
Years ago I was fortunate enough to hear a talk given by a community leader of the Bronx about some of the people he had come across in that infamous area of Bogota. He spoke of the equivalent of Colombian Ivy League graduates, airline pilots, Doctors and people from every social strata who had ended up here at rock bottom.
This collage is for the time being my portrait of homelessness in Bogota.