The documentary ‘Liefs, Melissa’ tells us about Melissa, a young woman struggling with depressions and borderline, a mental disorder. After more than ten years of therapy, heavy medication, living in institutions and trying to find ways for her to ’live’, Melissa was convinced she could only find the peace and quiet which she so badly needed in death. But finding a humane way of suicide turned out to be a struggle all on its own.
After Melissa’s several requests for a physician-assisted suicide were turned down, Melissa took her own life in November 2009, at the age of 27.”
Felsenthal is a small rural town located at the southern tip of Arkansas. The national census reports fewer than one-hundred and fifty people live within its limits. Out of two-hundred and fifty seven homes, only seventy five are occupied.
This town is the central hub of my family lineage.
From 2006-2010 Norbert Mbu Mputu struggled to cope with the stresses and strains of life as a failed asylum seeker. Forced to flee his native Congo he initially lived on the streets in London before being given temporary accommodation and eventually being relocated to Newport, until his asylum application was rejected in early 2006. Dubbed a ‘sofa surfer’ by many he lived a transient life between Newport and London sleeping on friends floors and sofas, sometimes for as little as 3 hours a night, with no home, no income and no right to work and support himself in the UK. Norbert left behind a wife, 3 daughters and a young son all of whom he has not seen since arriving in the UK more than 7 years ago.
He survived these years of uncertainty by sheer determination, ingenuity and not a little luck. A kind and generous man, I hope that these images show a little of the human cost the complex asylum system has on individuals left in limbo for such long periods of time, not only to their physical circumstance but their mental condition as well.