One third of Hungary's population lives below the poverty line, and one in four lives in extreme poverty. It is a vicious circle from which breaking out is almost hopeless. In Hungary, immeasurable racism makes it difficult for Roma to find a job. More than once it is necessary to officially intervene in the matter of equal treatment of job seekers. It is more difficult for the relatively undereducated Roma population to represent itself and stand up for its own rights. In 2019, I started my series about a Roma family living in extreme poverty in a small town near Budapest, Üllő. They live in the ruins of a small house, there is no electricity, the water is only in the garden and there is no central heating, the family has a wood burning stove, so they heat the house with wood. With the help of my camera, I wanted to show that despite the stereotypical ideas about the life of Roma families, there is a life that we don't know much about.
The life they lead is full of the challenges of everyday life, financial problems and worries about how they will feed their children. Both parents work in the series. However, their earnings are just enough to heat the house, send their children to school and eat every day. They don't have the opportunity to take a vacation. Despite this, they do not complain and live their daily lives trying to overcome the bitterness stemming from family poverty with humour and irony.
In such an environment, parents raise 2 children who work, do not drink and are not sad. Because life goes by them, if they don't survive, life goes on. That's what they believe. You can't be sad every day that you're poor. And yes, this little dilapidated cottage without water, gas or electricity is filled with all care, selflessness, love, humour and lots of communication. Children's laughter filters into the yard. They live the way they feel good.
My name is Eszter Halasi, I was born in 1978 in the Balkany, (Hungary), but I currently live in England.
Since 2017, I have been learning how to take photos in a self-taught way. Lately, I've been taking child and family portraits or family documentary photos. In my documentary series, I deal with the LGBTQ topic and image series recording the gypsy lifestyle. It is extremely important to me to present all this from a perspective that seeks to change existing stereotypes.
My goal is to create a documentary series about the lives of interesting people, which will attract people's attention and, through my images, they will be able to change their views on society and embedded stereotypes.
In 2021, I completed a 60-hour basic photography course at a Hungarian Art School, the SzellemKép Alternative School. I am currently studying authentic documentary photography with Zoltán Hajtmanszki, privately.