Perle is a 24 years old girl living in a big, pink house in the southern coast of Madagscar. As well as her “peers”, she likes pop music, trendy dresses and colorful nail polish. Perle is also an Exorcist, having committed her life to drive the devil away from the bodies of the possessed ones.
Perle lives in the city of Toliara, where the biggest community (“toby”) of african lutheran exorcists was founded: a whole village where all the citizens are exorcists, often both husbands and wives, their children and many young candidates training how to fight the devil. Every one among the 300 exorcists living there hosts a single cage in their gardens, made of iron or wood, where a “patient” they are responsible of is pemanently living.
These are the possesed ones, the cursed, the mentally ills. Living with heavy chains on their ankles and wrists, they get as only treatment an exorcism session twice a day. Among them is Fafah, a 23 years old girl who used to study at the university and attended the same school as Perle. After her father died by poison, Fafah was reported by her stepmother as being possessed by the devil, with the clear intent of taking possession of her iheritance. Since the past year Fafah lived inside an iron cage, without seeing the sunlight with chains welded on her ankles.
The night Perle was asked for a consultation from a fellow exorcist about the case of Fafah, it was even asked to me if I was able to help the girl to get her freedom back. Beside that well known “being a fly on the wall” saying in photojournalism, the human being behind the camera decided to intervene anyway, without any hesitations and to do whatever it takes to help the young girl. The photographer’s thought came only later, conciliating the personal choice with the professional ethics: the single story about Fafah won’t be only the proof of the factual tragedy, but will bear witness to the concrete hope that an happy ending could be a reachable goal for the ones who are still kept in chains.
After a week of negotiation with the exorcists’ community, Fafah was finally released. One hour later, Fafah told to Perle she had never seen the sea before. So Perle and Fafah started a day trip together to the beach, as if they have always been close friends.