Another installment of The Invisible Ones
I met Mohammed one recent early morning early morning near the Farragut West metro station. He was sitting quietly on the sidewalk with an empty paper cup in spite of the steady stream of morning commuters who were passing him by. When I first approached Mohammed to ask him if I might take his photograph, he introduced himself as Bill. After we talked for a bit he explained that his proper name was Mohammed but he rarely uses it because of the negative reaction he gets from passersby. Mohammed tells me that he was originally from North Carolina where he was working in the construction trades. He sustained a back injury and eventually was fired for missing work too many days. His life spiraled downward pretty quickly and he lost his apartment and ended up on the streets. He came to DC, hoping to get away from the intense hatred and animosity that was directed at him in North Carolina. He was advised by a friend who is also homeless that losing Mohammed would help. He was and is very conflicted about this as it’s his birth name but he hates the negativity even more, so it’s Bill for now. Mohammed spends his days moving about NW DC panhandling for enough money to buy food and a few essentials. He ends up in Rock Creek Park at the end of the day where he he has a safe spot to sleep. After an infestation of bed bugs, staying at any of the city shelters is simply not an option. Mohammed agreed to participate in the Invisible Ones photo documentary project in exchange for a cash donation. If you happen to see Mohammed, or know someone like him, stop for a minute and have a conversation. Ask if you can help out in some way. Even some eye contact and saying good morning means a great deal to someone who is largely invisible. I promise you’ll both be better off having had that experience.