This was one of my first photographic projects that tried to show homeless gypsies’ way of life in Bucharest, Romania,
2006. The main goal of meeting these families was to document their nomadic life, along with trying to convince a 14 years old boy to not abandon school.
On a cold February day, 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.
During the six months that I visited them, there were always new faces. The relationships between 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, lost the baby I had seen the previous 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 ended up giving up school one by one, despite our efforts. 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 were loudly declaring 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 informed me about their intentions: either go to the countryside, to relatives, to 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 quietly smoking and setting fire to cook the dinner. And a flock of birds flying down over the deserted camp, almost touching our heads.