Roma mother and daughter, Sibiu, Transylvania, Romania, 2004. ©Stan Kujawa.
I was aimlessly wandering the cobbled streets of the medieval Transylvanian Saxon city of Sibiu, Romania, when i can across these two Roma women in a side door of a hospital. I asked them politely if they would pose for me and they obliged, feeling quite pleased that i’d asked them. The daughter asked me if I could help in anyway with paying for her operation. I told her no, unfortunately I couldn’t. She then told me in broken English that although it was a state-funded hospital, and there was a Romanian public health system, back-hander money was still needed pass on to the treating doctors to ensure proper speedy treatment. Corruption in other words. Sadly, public healthcare professionals only got paid peanuts, and a culture prevailed, only too often encountered in ex-eastern bloc states, of having to bribe healthcare professionals, and not only, the rot runs through the whole of society. I personally know it still does to this day.
Hopefully, the woman got her treatment, and is now well and happy. In the photo, she appears proud, head raised, almost defiant. Romania opened my eyes to Roma people. It had been the first time I had approached any to talk to. I believe this photo challenges a certain stereotypical negative image of Roma. Yes, they had asked me for help, but other non-Roma patients had asked me the same.
Professor Norman Davies, St. Anthony’s College, 2010. Historian, author and noted Polonist. Image ©Stan Kujawa. All Rights Reserved.
Nick Baine (below), Bishop of Croydon in 2010, wrote a prayer for the success of the England squad in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa: