Realized during a 5-month period between 2011-2012, this photographic project documents the lives of people living in a Roma community in the suburbs of Thessaloniki.
“In October 2011, in cooperation with the social organization ‘Arsis’, and the help of a psychologist, I started visiting the ‘Tsairia’ Roma community in the Peraia region in the suburbs of Thessaloniki, in order to photograph its people.
I was instantly drawn by the unknown world that opened up in front of my eyes and I felt so excited that I immediately lifted my camera to capture what I was witnessing. But how could I start?
In this first approach, it was the kids that help me out. Laughing, yelling and playing, they welcomed me with the pure trust that children usually show to adults. That was the first step and the feeling was great. I soon realized that I had to erase all my prejudices in my head, since I had entered a totally different world, with a totally different perception of life. Once I started talking pictures of the kids, I got to know the parents who also welcomed me into their settlements. I felt touched and in return I gave them some printed photos.
During the 5-month period of visiting the community, I witnessed great contradictions. In a place surrounded by huge amounts of trash, people could be seen taking care of the cleanliness and neatness of their residencies. Many of them suffered by diseases and didn’t have access to essential goods and services such as heating, water or a sewer system, but they were still smiling and laughing. Through my discussions with people from the community, I also realized that the Roma were not welcomed in our society. They were encountered with racism and children were not accepted in the public schools of the area.
In October 2012, people from the community visited an exhibition of the project, and it was wonderful to observe them looking at themselves in the printed pictures. It was a real celebration. Now, following a few years, things have changed. The president of the community passed away, a lot of Roma abandoned their places and those who remained are facing even greater difficulties. In December 2014, due to heavy rain, the whole place flooded.
I named the project ‘Permanent Nomads’. Those people have lived for almost 30 years in the same place, but their soul has nevertheless remained nomadic.”