From initial application to actual construction, the families are in an active position. Once the application is approved, the municipality must supply deeds to the land and provide access to water, electricity and sanitation.
The project’s innovative and intricate structure has a strong emphasis on individual responsibility. The exchange of help, potentially creating dependency and expectation, is carefully considered and provides real incentive for the different stakeholders – Roma families, the surrounding communities and the municipality – to work together.
A woman from the village came to have Balkaza read her fortune from her Turkish coffee cup. Her son Gabriel observes the situation, while his eldest cousin waits for a cigarette. Balajnac, Merošina, near Nîs, Southern Serbia, 2018.
This story opens up many important questions around modern migration and integration. Will such a collaboration help create new perspectives on “the other”. How much of that barrier, shaped and maintained over generations, can it break down? How can we better distribute our shared but finite resources and services? How much must minorities conform to established social norms for integration to be successful?
In Western Europe we have successfully controlled our environment to make it as non- invasive and non-aggressive as possible. Now we contemplate its beauty and maybe even mourn the loss of the wild, but it is kept at a manageable distance and we engage with it on our terms.
Kristina's life hangs in the balance, having just finished her mandatory schooling, which she excelled at, she has realised that her family hasn't enough money for her to attend secondary school. They can't afford the bus fare, lunch or book money that a school further away entails. Without that Kristina is destined to become a labourer like her mother, who works sometimes for as little as 5 € day.