Tuesday, 3 May 2011
My Beloved Sulukule by Nejla Osseiran
Canım Sulukule../My Beloved Sulukule.. from Nejla Osseiran on Vimeo.
found on http://www.habitants.org
Nejla Osseiran My Beloved Sulukule..
The first time I visited Sulukule was the summer of 2007. A friend who was working for the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) in Budapest had asked me to go there and take a few pictures for an article to be published on their web newsletter.
I knew I would go there again and again. At the beginning some people approached me with caution. ‘They come and take our pictures and we never see them again!’ they said. I promised I would bring their pictures the next time. And I did. Gradually, I had fewer reluctant residents. Some wanted the pictures as a ‘keepsake’, some wanted to send them to their husbands or sons in the army or prison. Most of the people knew they were going to be evicted and they wanted some kind of souvenir or memento.
In each of the following times that I went to Sulukule, there were fewer houses, fewer families and children. Among the ruins the dark shadow of joylessness was spreading time and again. Some families were hopeful about the place they were going to move to. Some, especially the children, hated the idea. Sometimes I was not able to give the pictures because I could not find the people or their houses there. They would be gone. During this period I learned so much from them and about them. I realized that in time I had become their ‘Nejla Abla’. They would be so happy to see me when I went. They invited me in their houses and posed for me. I would be giving them either their pictures or pictures of people they knew and loved. Each time I went, my heart felt heavier. It was steadily taking the shape of a disaster area. Most of the houses were in rubble or completely gone. Each time I went, I felt more hopeless and helpless... Still I went - I felt I could not let them down. I knew they would be waiting for their pictures and the light I saw in their eyes overshadowed the shame of humanity, the brutality of poverty. I tried to keep my distance but after you get to know those people it is very difficult to forget them.
I never did.