Location: Gainesville, FL, United States
We Belong Here is a long-term project about the Irish Travellers, an ethnic minority that has lived on the fringes of mainstream Irish society for hundreds of years. It’s an intimate exploration of a traditionally itinerant, closed society with a rich culture, a secret language and an unwritten history – yet whose members endure some of the worst discrimination in Europe in housing, employment, health services and education. This ten-image series focuses on Traveller children and their lives.
This ongoing project, which I began five years ago, started with portraiture. It was the best way I felt I could show my respect for the Travellers I was getting to know and to earn their trust. The portraits have become the anchor of the project and seek to illuminate these lines by a Traveller poet, “We are not searching, we are not lost, we belong here.”
I’m a doctor. I believe everyone is deserving of care, and of the opportunities to have a better life. I believe in the power of photographs to help build this kind of understanding. We Belong Here is a gentle body of work, one that aims to create change through compassion. As I create it, I am inspired by the Traveller storyteller Richard O’Neill, who speaks of the “circular” history of his culture’s oral tradition. Stories, he says, “are not a race to get from A to B, but a lovely journey; we pick you up, show you things and then bring you back again.”