Another installment of “The Invisible Ones” of Washington, DC.
I came across Bashir as he was sitting between some shrubbery and a brick retaining wall out side the National Geographic Building on “M” and 17th Streets, NW Washington, DC. He was panhandling but given his almost hidden from view position, he had nothing in his paper cup despite it being a busy morning rush hour. Bashir has a quite a story to tell anyone who bothers to ask. He says he has been homeless for about seven years, since coming to the US from his home in Romania. He fled across the order to Romania from his native Serbia during the wars and after being imprisoned by the opposition government. He says he was separated from his family and has no idea what became of them. It is not at all clear how he came to the United States or what he’s been doing here. Two of the most striking things about Bashir are his facial grimacing which can be seen in the image and his literally begging me to not tell the Serbian Government where he is. I assured him I would not be in contact with the Serbian Government. When I asked him about the grimacing he just shrugged and didn’t want to talk about it. He also was not willing talk about any involvement with DC services or any of the homeless shelters. I gave Bashir a food voucher and a bottle of water in exchange for this photo, as well as my solemn promise to not contact the Serbian Government. Bashir may well be mentally ill in addition to being homeless. His diminutive stature and reclusiveness make him all but invisible to passersby.