schools

the foundation operates a number of schools in the neighborhoods of las golondrinas. during my visits, many of the students wanted their portraits taken. i got to see a variety of activities: sports day (which included dance lessons), geography lessons, art lessons, computer classes … overall, the kids seemed engaged and happy. watching them rush into the school after their lunch break was pretty amazing – they were excited to be back. there also was a team of students from a private school who came by to distribute donations of rice to the neighborhood. (unfortunately, my spanish wasn’t good enough…

a family

meet ioan and violeta, both 37. they have been married for 11 years and have seven children, aged 7 through 21. we met them when i noticed their kids playing on the railroad tracks outside their house. ioan and violeta are a mixed couple, in that she is a roma and he is not.  the family – all nine of them – live in a three-room, 30 m² shack by the rail line that leads into the old abandoned factory. the house, which originally had only one room, was owned by the railroad company before it went out of business….

they closed the mine

petrila, a town about halfway between bucharest and the serbian border, was a mining town until 2015. according to one article, petrila’s mine had been in operation for 156 years, and without the mine, there is no significant economic activity in the town at all. naturally, photos like this look better in black-and-white. from the looks of it, parts of the mining operating had been left to fall apart for longer than a year, but who knows. for the former miners, life goes on. these guys aren’t sitting alone at home at 10 on a friday morning.

housing: havana, part 6

one of our projects involved a visit to an apartment building known as a solár. soláres are buildings that were owned by a single family before the revolution, that were then taken over by the state and split up into apartments. the state provides the soláres to the residents for free: free of rent and, apparently, largely free of maintenance except for what the residents do themselves. the solár that we visited, on calle san ignácio, had been owned by a member of the aristocracy, the duque de pinar del rio. the duque’s slaves and servants moved in after the revolution, and…

what i’m doing during the week

during the week, i volunteer at a food pantry, assembling (on mondays and wednesdays) and distributing (on tuesdays and thursdays) boxes of food for low-income families.  with the continuing economic problems in greece, many families who used to have decent incomes now need extra help, so the municipal service center for the poor operates a program, underwritten by one of the local private utilities, to assist 100 families with weekly groceries for a six-month period.  the boxes contain basic staples – juice, pasta, dried beans, cereal, tuna, and the like, as well as cleaning products: not enough to completely feed…

ας μάθουμε λίγα ελληνικά!

we are moving to athens this summer, and we went to larissa, about four hours north of the city, for a one-week language immersion course.  greece, as anyone who is paying attention knows, is in the midst of a deep economic crisis.  the numbers suggest that the country is finally pulling out of it, having recorded a primary surplus and re-entered the international bond market; nonetheless, for the average person, the economic contraction and high unemployment of the past 6-7 years remains a constant.  i was curious to see first-hand how the crisis “looked” on the streets, and while every…

housing

(as some of you know, i managed a low-income housing repair program before i moved overseas. i no longer work in the field, but when i come across examples of housing policy, i look into them.) while i was hunting around for photo stories earlier this year, i learned about an urban community called semmanchery, located about 30 km outside of chennai. the government had begun building units in semmanchery in 2004 specifically for households relocated as a result of slum clearance and urban development projects. in 2007, it relocated squatters from their homes on government land on the cooum…