The doctor shows me the photos, there are lots of little dots, he explains to me that it’s ‘military tuberculosis: it multiplies and takes over the body. I said to myself: “Great!” I have an army in my body. It can’t be possible! I’m 17 years old! I want to stay alive.”




I was hospitalised for months. I couldn’t walk anymore. When I finally could leave my room, I had a race with an old woman to celebrate. Both of us, using walking frames, went all the way to the toilet: I lost but it was such a liberation.

On the positive side, it was my father who bequeathed it to me […]”


Born in the Central African Republic, Diane came to France when she was 18 months old with her sister and father.


A soldier, he wanted us to have another life, to discover something else. He saw people die, he fought in several wars; you can see it on his body, and despite it all, he manages to be happy. Sometimes he tells stories: even the children laugh when their grandfather speaks.


Later, I needed to understand who I was, there were gaps in my story. My mother is dead and I didn’t know her. So I decided to go to Central Africa. Over there, in a few days, we found all the family just by word-of-mouth: everybody knows everybody because nearly everyone is a soldier or married to a soldier.


When I met my uncle, he looked at me and called me by my mother’s first name. He saw his sister who he loved so much. We cried a lot. Then he showed me a photo: I had the same head. It was my head! […] And then day after day, I met more and more people. It was impossible to know who was who but we looked so alike! My aunt said to me : ‘Do you know who I am?’


– ‘Yes you’re my aunt.’

– ‘Ah well done, you know!’

– ‘Of course I do, you have the same head!’


When I came back from Bangui, I was relieved. I had found the link on my mother’s side: I had come to find her and I realised that I already had her in me. I also discovered Africa and I understood my father better. Now I know how to tell these things to my children.”


When her two sons, 6 and 11, aren’t transforming the living room of their appartment into a car garage., they go to take a boat ride on the canal Ourcq next to the Petit Noisy social housing residence, all the way to La Villette.


One day, we see a marriage, Senegalese or Malian, lots of people with boubous (traditional African clothing) . The next day, there are some people listening to techno music, we hear them speaking in English about a music festival.. There are also some races, an introduction to African dance… The canal attracts a wide variety of people.

With my children, I also like to go to the Jardin d’Acclimatation but with the train home at the end of the day, it’s a long day. That’s why I was interested in the association Méli Mélo: they offer outings in the local area for families. Halloween last year, was huge! »


Méli Mélo allows Diane to avoid extra travel, she is a hostess and works across the Paris region: one day for a bank, the other at the headquarters of a fast food chain, the next day in a lawyers’ office…


I like to be independent and find solutions and make life easier for the people I work with. »


And distance can’t prevent certain discoveries : Today my project, its to take my children to discover Centra Africa.” 

Other portraits