It was providence that we met. Saleh, Abudi and I were looking for the young lad who runs a pool hall above a kebabci. We had visited but the lad was out - apparently looking for people to play. While we were walking, I notice Aladeen peering back at us, probably because we were talking loudly in English. Once we crossed the road, we bumped into the pool hall lad handing out fliers. Aladeen stopped too. We all huddled around teasing him that his only clients came to see him and he was out soliciting for us. Aladeen suddenly stepped in, he was looking to play too. Perfect, we can play a tournament.
We all walked off to the hall - the five of us. Throughout the tournament we found out a bit about Aladeen. The young Gambian had left his home for a modeling competition in Antalya - southern Turkey. After winning, he decided to travel to Istanbul to continue.
We met him only 12 days into his new life in Istanbul and he was already learning the harsh realities of this city. He already had several 'promising' job offers that only cost a few thousand to start. Saleh immediately warned him to be careful and trust no one. In the city famed to be the capital of the world for its sprawling reaches over Europe and Asia, its easy to get lost. In this ancient city of merchants, newcomers are easy targets for a quick scheme. If justice is blind, so is crime.
We were relieved that he had not fallen into the traps. He talked of his ambition to model, but was unable to give agents a portfolio. Thankfully, earlier that week I had talked to a friend studying photo-journalism. He has agreed to snap the photos in his studio and put something together. In the meantime, Aladeen has been looking for work to gain his feet in this chaotic city.