The ECRI project’s documentary photo novels meet Roma people in four countries: France, Bulgaria, Romania and Germany. These stories in text and images explore several themes (the reasons for migration, stigmatisation, access to housing, inclusion, mentoring, living conditions, etc.) in order to better understand these people and to fight against stereotypes. The aim is to give them a voice while at the same time providing a subjective and creative view of them.
I remain black in my skin
Dimitar Assenov was born and lives in the Roma neighbourhood of Pazardjik, near Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The man known as Mitko knows almost everyone who has gone abroad to work and enable families to live in a country where the stigma against Roma is strong. He is the head of the Pazardjik Future association, a structure that takes care of the elderly, among others. We cross the neighbourhood with him to better understand the situation of the Roma in their country of origin.
From squat to home
Bojislav and Ana Mihaylov live with their two children, Antonio and Angelica, in a house in the suburbs of Bordeaux. They came to France to work from the Pazardjik region in Bulgaria and experienced the hardships of life in a squat. Bojislav now distributes newspapers, Ana works in agriculture and their two children go to school. They talk about their new life and their hopes for the future.
Strong and Independent
Roxanna, a German-born Sinti, runs the organisation Safe space from Dortmund, which promotes inclusion, intersectionality and empowerment of Sinti (or Sinté) and Roma. The Sinti share an Indian origin with the Roma but came to Western Europe in the Middle Ages. The Sinti were deported by the Nazi regime to concentration and extermination camps, just like the Roma. A majority of them did not survive. Part of Roxanna’s family was also a victim of genocide. This trauma is for her essential in understanding the contemporary period marked by multiple discriminations.
Become an example
In order to fight against the internalization of discrimination and the lack of self-esteem of Roma people, the Bucharest-based organisation Roma Education Found is developing various mentoring programmes. In the city of Slobozia, Florica Alecu, a Roma school principal, is a mentor to a group of girls who have entered a pedagogical high school in order to become teachers in public education. A mentor being a role model who works with the mentee to develop themselves, Florica, Adriana, Luiza, Julia and Alexandra meet to understand the issues at stake in Romania, a country where slavery and serfdom of Roma was officially abolished in 1856.