Our heads full of revolution from the Euromaidan we came back, highly motivated, to start telling the story of the Roma people.
Our contacts were not available yet, waiting is not our strong point, we decided to take the luck in our own hands, in New Zealand we would say “just winging it”. On our first day we went into the infamous and pretty much official Romani ghetto in Kosice, Lunik IX.
We wanted to get a feel for it, are the people really as aggressive and inhospitable as we got told or is there a prejudice in the public of Slovakia just how it is observed often with poor minorities that for decades lacked the right integration into local society?
Armed with a polaroid camera we dived in and were able to give something back straight away, show people the power of photography, a frozen piece of time that can not be altered, therefor a true impression of how life is at a given moment.
It was a big success, soon we were not only surrounded by children but also three men, which quickly dressed up to have a picture taken. Many different people came and left, we laughed, we danced (a lot), sang, did cartwheels, handstands and ate, to me still unknown, unripe fruits from a tree.
Three hours later we left, exhausted, but with a much better understanding about their life and a first step closer towards a meaningful exchange on which we can tell an authentic story about an ethnic minority very rich in history and culture but with a past that sadly has not been too great at all. History is riddled with devastating stories and hardships the Roma people had to endure to be here in the first place. To this day it seems that most of them still haven’t been given the best chances to integrate well into the local societies of where they now call home. If we take the middle of all the estimate we saw it should be around 10million Roma in Europe, the reason of why they left their homes of Northern India and Pakistan is still unknown. No matter where they went the role as societies outcast living in the outskirts seems sealed, even after living in countries for several generations. Our next days will be focused on unpacking some of those, to us, mysteries, in order for everyone to understand each other better, because in the end of the day, we are all made out of the same materials, external factors have shaped the way we behave and had a huge say in the opportunities that we found along the way, let’s all appreciate this fortune while leaving a world of prejudice, let’s fill our pockets with compassion, a healthy mix of smiles, authenticity and open mindedness.
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Hamlet : Act 2, Scene 2.