Mona Simon – Traditional Roma, winner of the 1st Place at PDN Faces Contest – Environmental Category

Mona Simon belongs to a German minority called the Transylvanian Saxons and as a child she lived in ªeica Micã before her family immigrated to Germany after the communism collapsed. She remembers the Gypsies very well, travelling around and she always felt very fascinated by their colourful appearance.
In 2008 she came back to Romania to do a personal project about the Memories of her Childhood and the Gypsies obviously belong to those precious Memories. She highly respected the fact that these people have been faithful to their traditions and have kept their values as they were hundreds of years ago. As a documentary photographer Mona is interested in anthropological topics, therefore she hopes to visit the Caldarari every year for a couple of days and accompany the gypsies through the time.

“The first time I visited them in 2008 accompanied by some friends, who knew them personally, I felt very welcomed from the first moment on. The second time I went with my fixer, a young romanian girl who helped me translating, and finally in October 2009 I went on my own. Although some People warned me not to visit them on my own, they have been very friendly and caring to me I was deeply impressed by their kindness and am looking forward to see them soon again.”

These photographs have been taken in a Transylvanian village called Brãtei.

The third daughter, 4 years old girl who was already promised to be married to a neighbour family’s son.
When she was born, her family was very upset because only sons can inherit the families house.
She was the third child her mother gave birth to and she was another girl.
Her father decided to separate from his wife and get a new one hoping that she would give him a son but he loved her though… so he took her back and gave her another chance.
Luckily she than gave birth to a healthy boy.”

This is the eldest couple in the community, they are 83 years old.
“They told me that they have been deported to Russia after the second world war where they have been kept doing hard labour for several years. So have been the Transylvanian saxons, my grandparents were amongst the deported people. This couple told me that this common experience has build a bond between both minorities.”

“Showing a mixture of old and almost new in a wonderful detail.”

Simon4 Simon5

“This young boy is the brother of the two girls from the next photo. He just came back from school, when I took the photograph.
He is the only family member who actually goes to school, as he is a boy he has the right to get more education than his sisters.

“The girl on the right is 17 and she is married since she completed 15 years, now 2 years later she is finally pregnant.
Both, her Sister (13 years old) and she, hope that it will be a boy.
These two sisters belong to the Caldarari subgroup of Romani people in Romania.
They left school after completing the 4th grade and now their main occupation is to take care of the house, the family and the family business.
The community traditionally produces handcrafted copper work which they than sell in front of their houses but also on national and international fares.”

via PDN Faces