Alin Coman is 15 years old and wants to become a lawyer, a cook, a theater or dance teacher. He took a picture which should prove that “Ferentari is not such a filthy place as they say”.
Adriana, Alberto, Alin, Alexandra, Anca, Denisa, Larisa, Natalia, Toto and Tuli are all aged 10 to 15. Between February and May they photographed the Ferentari neighbourhood in Bucharest. The images they captured are part of a project implemented by Asociația Carusel (the Carousel Association), Centrul de Resurse pentru Participare Publică (Resource Center for Public Participation) and Policy Center for Roma and Minorities (PCRM).
The initiators of the project wanted to draw attention to the phenomenon of drug use in public spaces. 28 photographs taken by the children were displayed in the PhotoVoice exhibition “My Photo. My Voice”, which was held on 30th and 31st July, in Bucharest. PhotoVoice is a way of sending a strong message via photographs by the members of a community that would otherwise not have the ability to bring its problems on the public agenda.
“The idea was to give voice to people who would otherwise have no chance of expressing their opinion. We wanted to see their world through the eyes of children and how they perceive the neighbourhood where they live. We think they are very honest. The children have highlighted both the negative and the positive side of the neighborhood where they live”, says Ioan Petre, PR Coordinator at Carousel Association.
Every week, the participants received one disposable camera and were indicated one theme chosen by the organizers. “The main idea of the project was to show how kids see drug use in public spaces. Even if we did not tell the children what to photograph, and we just came up with some themes they should stick to, we were certain they would take pictures that illustrate drug use. Some of the children who participated in the project live in ghettos. Children are bothered by the notoriety of their neighbourhood. A drug addict who injects one dose in the middle of the street is not a very pleasant sight and this project was meant to draw attention to this”, tells Ioan Petre.
The Ferentari neighbourhood is fourth in a ranking of top ten worst holiday destinations in the world, according to buyagift.com, a website specialized in lifestyle, gifts and travel.
You can find a selection of the 28 photographs on display below:
Adriana: Here you can see Lari and mum, who wanted to take a picture together. Mum thought Lari’s make-up (which I had done myself) was very pretty, but the nicest thing is that we were together as a family when I took the picture. It’s a good thing to be together with your family because they’re the most important people in your life, you would do anything for them.
Aly: I took this picture because I really love this tomcat. His name is Gheorghe. It was my brother who named him like this, not me. It is very important to have a pet. Dad and us, that is, my mother and me, found Gheorghe on the street at Vadul Nou, in Ferentari. My mum took him in her arms, and then she gave him to me. I took him home and cleansed him of fleas and ticks. At work, my dad fell and broke a rib. The kitten would then sleep only on his rib. My mum, my brother and I, we felt sorry for him and dad. On my birthday, he bit my finger and then would keep licking me there. Now Gheorghe is pretty much grown. The picture was taken when he was three or four months old, now he is eight. He loves us very much and we love him.
Adriana: The garbage is scattered next to a building where there used to be a music school or high school. The building has turned into a dumping ground. Everyone goes past it, but no one does anything about it. The garbage ends up there because they are no garbage bins. They were stolen by junkies.
Alin: I wanted to prove that Ferentari is not as filthy as they say.
Adriana: If you have faith in God and have a family, it’s a sin to throw money away on drugs. Don’t be blind and starve your family for drugs.
Alberto: In this picture I wanted to show that people are addicted to cigarettes, money, mobile phones and coffee.
Alberto: This is what streets look like in Ferentari.
Alberto: Lack of water: those who live in the ill-famed areas have no drinking water. Neighbours do not really help each other. People have no doors; they have curtains or dogs instead.
Alin: I just wanted to draw something, this is something you can do when you’re feeling angry.
Anca: You can see Mrs Sanziana in this picture. I think she’s a good person and an example for all of us.
Delia: Me and Mrs Delia. I was happy to take this picture together.
Larisa: Here you can see a decrepit building. It’s a place where people go in and take drugs.
Natalia: In this picture I wanted to show the block of flats where I live and what it means to live in these conditions. But this does not mean that if other people live in better flats and I have to live in a ghetto, I should not be respected.
Natalia: In this picture I wanted to show how much I love my uncle. Ever since my father died, my uncle has stood by me and he loves me very much.
Toto: This picture was taken on Livezilor Alley. The foot in the picture is mine. It was raining that day, and I found a syringe. I wish I didn’t see any more syringes on the street. People would keep throwing them on the street, even if you tell them to stop.
Translation in English by Alexandra Calu.