Tag Archives: bucharest

TOUCH!

In 2012 I worked for Concordia Romania for the first time when I visited my love Lena who volunteered back then. Currently I am planning the fourth trip which is very exciting – can’t wait to finally get back again. I had a look through my archive and what struck me was one repeating element – a touch.

Here is a simple collection of images I have taken over the last 4 years – seems random but the beauty of a a hand touching a face, a foot touching another foot, hugs and support is forming a frame. Something worthy to appreciate. Beautiful moments.

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Nap after lunch.
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I have always admired Costin’s direct and loving approach.2012-029_100712_0021

What a moment in the chapel.
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Volunteers are an important part of the Concordia system. From the very beginning they are accepted by the children.2014-050_Pirita_1676
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Always a helping, soothing or strong hand.2015-025_1920 2015-025_2387

Most problems could be solved literally with a touch.
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Copyright: Benjamin Kaufmann Photography

Streetlife

On the street we also visited the infamous area next to the central train station in Bucharest. It used to be the centre for all the homeless and drug addicts. A little hole in the earth in an adjacent park used to be the entrance to the underworld – the sewers of the city where thousands lived.

When I visited the canal was closed down, the entrance still visible but not accessible. Right next to the station a derelict building. A large group of heavily addicted people still lived there. It had a roof but no walls. It was summer and very hot. Carpets and blankets protected the community from the outside stares. But no one really cared. They were in the middle of everything but invisible.

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The inside was hot, steamy and dark. Just a few slits let some daylight in. The worst imagination became reality. The rumours of kids taking drugs at a very early age, sniffing glue. That’s a sight one never forgets. To be robbed of probably the most valuable time in your life – your childhood. Young bodies with old eyes. Not even desperation, just bland indifference towards the outside world. No desire, no joy just pure nothingness. And still there were kids. With a life ahead of them.

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The local community boss let me into his private chamber. He had his own little separated area and was very proud of it. Being very protective he kept always very close to me. Not in a mean way, not offending or threatening… just making sure everything was all right with his people.

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Author: Benjamin Kaufmann, #benjaminkaufmann

 

The Families

The project in Bucharest for Concordia continued. After we had visited the abandoned house we moved on and visited two families. Both struggling with daily life, both great fighters. The women had to cope with the situation as the men were either in prison or not really helpful. Despite the poverty both families we visited had one thing in common – dignity.

The shared room was nicely decorated and very tidy. The mother of four struggled to come by day by day but still managed to look after her children. One can only hope that her strength will eventually help them to become independent of any help, to manage their own life and hopefully raise their families in better conditions.

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The second family lived in similar circumstances with even less possessions. But yet again the will to survive, the will to keep things under control and the believe in a better future wasn’t yet broken. This all is Europe, literally on our doorstep. I have witnessed myself how much of a difference the caring Concordia street workers made. It’s not purely the financial help impoverished people need. It’s more the human touch, a conversation and the respect that every human being deserves.  My deepest respect towards all the employees and volunteers who dedicate their time.2012-029_090712_02062012-029_090712_0183 2012-029_090712_0200

 

Author: Benjamin Kaufmann, Photographer, Charity, Blog

The House

In a very good neighbourhood in Bucharest there is one special house. Being derelict it is the home to only a few heroine addicts. Together with a street worker of the charity Concordia we visited the guys. I was warned to watch out for needles and broken glass to avoid injury and also contagion. Unfortunately they all suffer from severe diseases.

After a long conversation, talking about their problems of daily life, after bringing them food and water and after we sat together they allowed me to take a few images. These two were so sweet with each other and incredibly beautiful people.

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The massive garden was one big skip.

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Entering the house was indeed an adventure and heartbreaking at the same time. Dropped out of society and their drug addiction forces them to live in non-human conditions. I was at the same time deeply moved by the way Concordia helped them. Mostly by giving them dignity and no pity.

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In the beginning it felt extremely weird to visit as I felt we were intruding into their private space. But they offered drinks and were very welcoming which even intensified the experience.

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Author: Benjamin Kaufmann, Photographer, Charity, Blog