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Canal Saint Martin with Gala

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Gala was born in Russia, grew up in Madagascar and is now living in Paris.  We talked about the challenges she had to overcome growing up in Africa being one of the only white girls in school, her decision to move, and the plans and aspirations she has for the future.



“We weren’t part of the “vazahas” (foreigners) who lived on a villa, drove a 4×4, or shopped in supermarkets. I have nothing against them of course. We lived in a small cottage, our malagasy neighbors were family. Bikes or local “taxi brousse” (small buses, where people are packed like sardines in a can) got us around town. We bought fresh products at the local market.

Sometimes it was tough to still be seen as a “white girl” when you felt you were living the same life and going through the same struggles as the locals.

It was difficult to see such poverty and lack of opportunities. And it was hard also to be far from our family for such a long time (10 years without seeing them). My mother helped me adapt in incredible ways. Her love for the island – its people and its diverse nature – was contagious and we never got bored with her. We traveled to the sea several times a year and met incredible people. I lived through moments that many do not have the chance to experience. God always provided for us when we had nothing and I was happiest when I lived on that magical island.”

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“A key pivotal point was when I was 14 and realized there was a God who loved me.

A God who called me “child” and whom I wanted to have a relationship with. Many things came together for me to become aware of this reality. Following this, I was able to forgive a man who had abused me several years earlier, something I very rarely have the courage to talk about, but that I know I should talk about more. I was freed from many dark emotions and scars. I still have to work very hard at trusting men, but I knew then that what had happened didn’t define me as a person and didn’t define my future.

Today, I’m more aware of what I do NOT want. I still find difficulty in pinpointing what I truly want and how to get to that place. In my wildest musings, I see myself living a bohemian life somewhere on a beach with tanned children and a soulmate. I am making things with my hands and living off the land.”
Thank you Gala for sharing your story and Missy for the gorgeous hair and make-up.

Photography by: Ania Volovique | |

Make-up by: Missy MacKintosh |

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