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Still Hidden In Plain View

Michele Zousmer | CA, Ireland

Maria at Home Maria has lived her whole life in this caravan in Dublin. She raised 10 children and they still live like she does without basic human rights.

 I just returned from Ireland where I spent time with the Irish Travellers. I came home sad and disheartened.      

Irish Travellers, also known as Gypsies, are the marginalized community in Ireland. They are a beautiful group of people who value family, lifelong bonds and God. 
Men sell horses and metal scraps to make ends meet. Women marry young and have large families. Education is not valued. They have a proud heritage and prefer to be nomadic but most now live in their caravans in government encampments. Denied basic human rights - running water, electricity and proper hygiene makes life difficult. Research shows domestic violence is around 81% and suicide is 7% higher than in the settled population.  Irish Travellers are recognized as an ethnic group but continue to be the subject of both political and cultural discrimination. 
The few Traveller advocacy groups have yet to attract attention. Both the Travellers and the 'settled' need to come together to address their thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors that are causing this separatism. Longtime misconceptions make this difficult but an environment where this racism can be challenged needs to be created.

I am a visual storyteller. I give voice to marginalized communities and witness to the human experience. My work celebrates the individual's strength and beauty, as well as their vulnerability and spirit, going beyond how one presents oneself to the world. I believe a visual image is a powerful tool that creates a lasting impression of emotion, curiosity, caring and ultimately hope and humanity. Photographs illustrate life in a way that words cannot.
What is important to me in my work is the way my understanding of people and the world deepens. I hope my work inspires others to see we all matter and to care more profoundly. Engaging in the world and experiencing different viewpoints and traditions allows for more global conversations on diversity.



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