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France, Il Semaforo

Il Semaforo ( traffic light in Italian) or the story of Julia Enache, 1m20, 37 years and of her son Costa Enache, 1m30, 19 years. They are both Romanian people and dwarfs.

I knew them during the spring 2011 in Marseille, they begged at the traffic light, at the corner of the street Paradis and Canebire. They lived in a little cheap hostel close to the station Saint Charles and everyday, from 10h to 17h, they were at this traffic light, tirelessly, begging something to pay their room, some pieces of pizza and clothes about 3 euros at Papy, the Marseillais Tati.
During these 18 years that they will be in the town, this traffic light will be their office 7 days a week, and their own mark with the hostel and the station.

Actress through and through, Julia worked during 15 years ago at the Globus circus in Romania. She maintained two shows solo as clown and dogs s trainer. Her dream is to come back in a circus. She has two children: Costa who is dwarf too and a normal girl, stayed in Romania with her grandparents. During weeks, I took pictures of Julia, Costa and their two dogs (Pouffy and betty) on their little place, in their modest daily life and their pits.

Because they are poor and jobless, we often compare them to Zingaris (Roms) what they absolutely dont want. Julia and Costa are very clean, they dont drink, dont steal and in spite of the fact they attract friendship and sympathy with their tiny size, we often consider them with suspicion as we know that they are from Romania.

Used to live day-to day, these two dwarfs have a disconcerting innocence and naivety about their situation. Accumulating debts and abused patience of the hostels owner at last, they are thrown out overnight.

They are back to square one, and everything is worth. No hostel accepts them with dogs. Because they dont want to part with their animals with which they have a near close relationship, Julia and Costa sleep in the station where they have a part of their clothes stolen. Costa often faints and after doing tests, he discovers that he is epileptic and he needs a treatment for all his life however he hasnt got a social security cover.

The generosity of Marseilles people declined very much with the crisis and a voted by-law at the start 2011 forbids begging on the public highway. Day after day, the police chases traffic lights dwarfs threatening a fine of 38 euros if they still stay, whereas their daily income isnt more 15 euros by day. At the end of October, Julias husband meets them after disappeared during more an year and in the end, after a month of pits sleeping in cold temperature, they go to Spain to meet some members of their family and a less harsh winter.

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