Photographing the Roma community of Hetea, Romania is difficult to encapsulate.  As a Westerner it is seldom that I meet such a community. My description may sound patronizing or critical. A journalistic approach may miss the whole experience.  A factual description of the extreme living conditions such as sanitation, nutrition, education and variety of other “ions” will not do justice. I may also talk about the physical beauty of the place and its people, the isolated location and its impact on the community’s economic conditions, value systems and culture.

None of the above touches me.  What I am after is the wish to understand the individual and the community “raison d’etre”.  I know that within my community, the individual is tagged and evaluated according to many factors such as education, profession, wealth, family and network. Many of these and others determine how we connect to and viewed by others.  They impact our self-esteem. The latter allows us to function in this modern competitive world. It leads us to a certain path of life. At times it also inhibits our access to our inner vulnerable being.

The villagers of Hetea are vulnerable and defenseless, they show no sign of investment in their ego, they are 180 degrees apart from us (Western society).  They appear to be a society with no dreams and aspirations. They lack the element of self-awareness, where poverty and misery have depleted their energy and as such there is no way out.

When I think of the typical Roma person in the village, I see and experience an individual with very little opportunities to improve his life. If Nico wants to advance in life he finds himself with no education, no running water, very limited transportation etc. Who is going to hire him? When I ask myself why does he not build an outhouse? Why does he not have a vegetable patch? some chickens around the house? Am I doing him injustice, am I asking for the impossible?

I was born and brought up in a Western society, into a democracy which affords us dreams, which allows us to overcome barriers and progress. It is fascinating to find a group of people that is so different from “me” and which is in so many ways difficult to understand using “our” history and story as a guideline.  It is not trivial for me to think that a community has chosen a self-imposed punishment.  It is a real enigma. I cannot but I ask myself what is it that makes him or her tick? What drives, urges and encourages the person and the community to perform? Concurrently, I see a person in a “raw state” of being, with no pretense, who is non-inhibited and with no shame. It is this nakedness that attracts me. It could very well be that all my interpretations are wrong.  But that is exactly what I wish to find out. My journey has just begun.

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4 Responses to “Romania, Transylvania – It is Always the Kids who Touch our Hearts” Subscribe

  1. Claude Rausch January 22, 2015 at 4:01 pm #

    Congrat for that amazing work..DO LOVE IT ! my fullest RESPECT !

  2. Rui Palha February 17, 2015 at 12:08 am #

    Great indeed.
    Congrats

  3. Claude Renault April 7, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    Wonderful… Thanks

  4. aubry Francine June 15, 2015 at 10:47 pm #

    good job! i like your photographies, humanity.

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