Forging life

November 29, 2012. Mukhtar Ahmed, 41, works 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, looking for scrap metal in garbage containers with which he can earn 5 to 10 euros per day.
January 10, 2103. The collective of people at the industrial warehouse would like to normalize their work situation with scrap metal, create a cooperative, and regularize their resident status.
January 10, 2013. When people arrive at the warehouse with a full shopping cart of scrap, they select and separate material and products.
December 11, 2012. Zabre Omar, 29, born in Burkina Faso, worked as a farmer and photographer in his country. He now works collecting scrap metal which he sells at Ca l'Africa, earning 5 to 10 euros a day.
February 04, 2013. People try to raise awareness about their situation in the warehouse. They’ve already been in the country many years and are giving their lives to this country. They even have children who have been born Catalan. The current situation is not sustainable.
25 June, 2013. Diatta Arouna, from Senegal, works the scrap metal at the warehouse. He has a place where he buys scrap metal that people bring, and also a space where he offers food and drink. Although he does not live in the warehouse, he is one of the leaders and works hard to feed his wife and two children.
July 11, 2013. Different businesses have grown in the warehouse. There is a bike repair shop for example, the main transport used by people who live there.
January 10, 2013. The president of warehouse collective, plays checkers.
November 23, 2012. Axel, from Belgium, collects scrap metal and also works helping to separate appliances that arrive to Ca l'Africa at one of the purchase points.
November 21, 2012. The Pope, from Rumania, is one of the most respected figures in Ca l'Africa. Besides collecting scrap, Romanians also collect paper and cardboard to recycle.
November 15, 2012. All material that enters the warehouse is organized and stored.
June 25, 2013. Diatta Arouna, from Senegal, works the scrap metal at the warehouse and also has a space where he serves plates of chicken and rice for 2 euros.
June 26, 2013. People set up different businesses in order to survive, like a hairdresser.
December 12, 2012. For the past 15 months Ca l'Africa has been in a situation of emergency. It is the largest squatted space in all of Spain and many people depend on it. About 300 different people from many different countries and cultures it coexist peacefully there. Abdul Hafid from Morocco and Mamadou Kheraba from Senegal share a beer at the end of the day.
January 22, 2013. Mamadou Kheraba was born in southern Senegal 43 years ago. It's been almost 14 years since he arrived in Catalonia. He has always lived in Barcelona. He has 36 brothers in different countries around the world. He is expecting a child and he has another 10 year old son who was born here. In Senegal he worked in his family trade of small business and agriculture. Hope is the only thing he cannot loose and he prays every day.
July 23, 2013. In the warehouse, there are at minimum 10 different self sustaining businesses that in turn, provide the economic base for Ca L’Africa. Scrap metal collection, canteens, bars, grocery stores, etc.
November 22, 2012. Mukhtar Ahmed, 41 years, of Pakistani origin had to flee Pakistan because had family problems. He has been living next to Ca l'Africa, five months and collects scrap metal.
January 22, 2013. Spain has 3.4 million empty homes, 10.8% more than in 2001 and over 400,000 evictions forced evictions have been ordered by judges in Spain since the beginning of the crisis in 2008.
July 11, 2013. Ibrahima Seydi from Senegal, rests during the day, surrounded by his artistic works.
November 15, 2012. Mamadou Kheraba one of the founders of Ca l'Africa, rests in the space where he works Up-cycling material (scrap, appliances, machinery, building materials, etc.).
July 03, 2013. John from Senegal is one of the first to arrive at the warehouse two years ago. Now he is responsible for one of the canteens, offering cooked dishes for 2 euros.



In an abandoned warehouse in the Poblenou area of Barcelona there once was the largest settlement of illegal immigrants in Spain. The warehouse sheltered about 300 people and it atracted about 800 more every day to use their facilities. These people worked collecting scrap metal, selling antiques and promoting cultural activities. Most of them were from Africa, but there were also people from South America, Romania, the Caribbean...
Picture yourself in August 2001, when Barcelona’s Plaça Catalunya was evicted. Every day hundreds of Senegalese immigrants who had come to Europe seeking a better future would sleep in the plaza.  But from one day to the next, they were told to leave, and no legal solution was offerred, no refugee rights.  The state refused to provide any political or economic aid, they were just told to go. "There was no choice but to occupy spaces and publicize our situation to citizens, in order to weave cultural and economic bridges between where we came from and where we are," says Mamadou Kheraba, one of the founders of the squatting settlement.
Prior to occupying this warehouse they had squatted other places in  Barcelona, in which they developed different activities to raise awareness about their sitiuation and also Africa. They held workshops in African music, theater, sculpture, painting.   But as soon as their projects took off and were welcomed by the neighbours, the police would turn up and  they would be evicted, destroying much of what had been built.  Once evicted they would have to re-build from scratch.
After two years of squatting this particular warehouse in Poblenou, it's owners, Fincas Riana SL, filed a court case against them and on September 24th, 2013, they were evicted once more.

2012 to 2013

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