This was one of my first photographic projects that tried to show homeless gypsies’ way of life in Bucharest, Romania, in 2006. The main goal of meeting these families was to help and try to convince a 14 years old boy to not abandon school, along with documenting their life.
On a cold February day in 2006, I was introduced by a social assistant, Mihai Moldovan, to eight gypsy families living in improvised barracks, on a vacant land surrounded by communist blocks in Bucharest, sector 3. Kids, cats and rags altogether, no electricity or running water. The fire was made with abandoned furniture that was hardly heating the smoked thin walls.
I went on seeing them for six months, on Saturdays.
There were new faces every time I visited. The relationships among them were disconcerting: mothers and daughters were having children that were the same age. Sometimes they were sharing the same man. Titina, 40 years old, thin as a shadow, had lost the baby I had seen last winter, and was now pregnant again. She greedily smoked and asked me to take a photo with her and her lover, a young man that could have been easily her son.
The kids we were going to the barracks for gave up school one by one, despite our help and efforts. Education just not seemed their interest . Poverty was reigning, but it was sometimes demolished by paradoxes: they all had new mobile phones, ate their soup from an elegant soup tureen, women used olive oil for cooking and loudly declared they would never work, as men were supposed to feed the whole family. I was struck with the poor management of their very small income.
On our last meeting, towards summer, in 2007, I found them anxious: their barracks were to be demolished, as the construction of a new supermarket on that area had been announced. They told me about their intentions: either go in the countryside, to relatives, till the land, or leave for Italy and Spain, to search for work. Others thought of renting an apartment in Bucharest. Even at the eleventh hour, they didn't want to listen that even the cheapest rent wouldn't be for their pocket.
I gave them photos that brought a smile on their preoccupied faces. The last images I took were of numbered empty concrete barracks, Titina quitely smoking and setting fire for dinner. And a flock of birds flying down over the deserted camp, almost touching our heads.