Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

 

First of all it would be unfair to assume that all persons originating from Transylvania are Vampires. I live with one and my neck is relatively bite-free. I do, however keep a large garland of the age-old pungent rose in our kitchen. Joking aside, the reason I am interviewing this interesting gentleman today is to show the determination he had to provide for his family through a really tough Communist regime. These were times without Facebook and camera-phones, where making a side-living from photography could have landed him in serious trouble with the Romanian Securitate resulting in substantial fines, and even Jail. I got to know Dorin Avram and his family through my partner who happens to be his niece.

When did your passion for takings photographs begin?

“I always liked the Photography.  After I got married and we had the kids, I started it professionally to make a second income.”

Is there a photographer that you particularly liked back then?

“No, there was none.” (It’s important to state here that during Communism, only classic literature and political propaganda would have been stocked in the libraries. Researching photographers would have been near impossible).

What year did you start taking photographs to make extra income and what camera did you use?

” It was in the year of 1986. The camera was a  Zenit 35mm Rangefinder. I did weddings, baptism, birthdays and all kinds of family portraits”.

I assume you couldn’t send your negatives to a camera store to develop and print them. How did you get your hands on the chemicals and paper?

“Well, the photo paper I bought now and then from photo shops, but in bigger amounts for storage, and the solutions too at first. Later on I bought the chemicals from the pharmacy and mixed the solutions myself. I had a scale, that was very accurate. You had to have the exact amount of each chemical for the solution!”

Roughly how long during the Communist regime were you in business for?

“From 1986 until 1991 when we left Romania to come to Germany. The communist regime ended 1990, so I did it for about five years.”

It’s said that one in three Romanians was an informant for the Securitate*. Where did you do your processing and was it well hidden?

“There was a secret room in our apartment, which was my laboratory/ darkroom. I think it was around 1.5 by 2 meters long or something like that. The door to it was our coat rack and you could open it, if you pulled a secret crank and rolled the door open. The door was really heavy.”

I’m sure everyone would love to see how you organised yourself. Could you draw a quick picture of the set up?

If you were caught by the authorities what was the penalty?

“It was a high monetary penalty. How much it was, I don’t remember. Prison was less the case.”

Do you think people are as passionate about photography now, as you were back then?

“I think yes! I see Artemis for example; she takes pictures of everything… I think she is more passionate about it now than I was then. I tried a lot back then and I did everything myself (developing etc.), but today I think it would be too expensive for me…

Were there any moments when young children would sneak in and open the secret door, or turn on the light by accident, destroying your pictures?  For example young Artemis or Alexandru?

“Yes… but only the pictures on the paper were damaged, but it almost never happened. It wasn’t as tragic, because the film itself wasn’t damaged and I could just do it again and I had always enough photo paper.

Last year, at your son Alexandru’s wedding in Germany, I saw you with a Canon DSLR. Do you prefer digital cameras now, or do you still have a love for the old film?

“I prefer the digital photography, it’s so much easier!”

Would you ever get back into taking pictures for a living, or have you ‘hung up your boxing gloves’?

“If I could make good money again then probably I would.”

10-year college reunion partyBaptism group photobaptismfamily portrait

*Control over society became stricter and stricter, with an East German-style phone bugging system installed, and with Securitate recruiting more agents, extending censorship and keeping tabs and records on a large segment of the population. By 1989, according to CNSAS (the Council for Studies of the Archives of the Former Securitate), one in three Romanians was an informant for the Securitate. Due to this state of affairs, income from tourism dropped substantially by 75%, with the three main tour operators that organized trips in Romania leaving the country by 1987.

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Students and Teachers unite on the streets to protest for equality. Picture Credit

Three main unions came together with plans to march from the Dept. of Education to Leinster House for the ‘Valuing Education’ rally. The INTO, TUI and ASTI issued this letter to school stewards all over Leinster to attract numbers for their protest.

TO: SCHOOL STEWARDS IN COUNTIES DUBLIN, LOUTH, MEATH, KILDARE & WICKLOW

10th October 2012

‘Valuing Education” Protest Rally: 4:30 p.m. Wednesday 24th October, Molesworth Street

Dear Colleague,

For the past number of years there has been a sustained attack by Government on education provision. Each year on Budget Day, funding for education is being reduced, teaching jobs are being lost and opportunities for young people are being eroded. December’s budget is looming.

These are the reasons why your union is joining with the INTO and the TUI in a protest rally at Leinster House on Wednesday 24th October. We want to bring home to the Government why further cuts to the education budget will betray young Irish people, further demoralise our profession and undermine our capacity to rebuild our economy.

The protest rally will commence after school at 4:30pm and end at 6:00pm. Members in schools in Dublin, Louth, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow are strongly encouraged to participate in this rally to demonstrate the strength of feeling of Irish teachers about the Government’s plans for further cuts. Given the acute difficulties and cuts faced by newly qualified teachers, we are particularly keen to encourage these members to attend the protest. Cuts in education mean fewer job opportunities for new teachers.

ASTI members along with colleagues from INTO and TUI will be gathering in Molesworth Street opposite Leinster House from 4:30pm. We will have banners and placards ready for members to collect. The government is currently preparing its plans for the budget in December. Protesting now gives us the opportunity to influence this budget debate.

I would like to ask you to join this protest and to encourage ASTI members in your school to attend as well.

Yours sincerely,

_________________________

Pat King

GENERAL SECRETARY

cc. Branch Officers and CEC members

This letter and many more like it were posted out to build interest and support for the concerned majority that are strongly opposed to the many issues presently facing educational systems in the country. The last four years have seen major cuts through these, what ASTI President calls, “anti-education budgets”. TUI President Gerry Craughwell stated “We currently have a situation whereby many of our talented, enthusiastic new teachers and lecturers are attempting to survive in part-time positions, with mere fragments of jobs. They are struggling to build a career on incomes which do not provide a basic standard of living. The TUI is here to demand that these teachers have a right to jobs, not just hours”

The starting salary this year for teachers will be up to 34% less than in 2010, according to the unions. The average cut being more than €11,000 yearly. Deputy General Secretary TUI Annette Dolan said that “up to 30 per cent of second level teachers currently work less than full-time hours and this percentage will continue to rise in the next few years”. The main concern by Dolan is that with the current conditions teachers may immigrate to Australia, or anywhere else there is demand. She hopes that the government restores the previous allowances to boost their mediocre income and stop Irish teachers seeking international employment.

On a brighter side, the rally showed a strong bonding of teachers, students, union leaders and representatives and even the general public. The noise of the protest could be heard on Grafton Street, which as you know is usually a nightmare to hear your phone on. The buskers of this particular day were drowned out by chanting students and amplified union speeches on loud speakers. The feeling was highly energetic and motivational. Not a single person hesitated at the chance to air their reactions to the speeches directed at Leinster House.

Some of the more creative of the crowd slightly altered their placards, including the hilarious “Enda can kiss my left one!” with another fellow student carrying the supporting “Enda can kiss my right one!” I think my favourite though, was the well-sported “Does this hoodie belong to anyone?” with the garment attached. The spotty faced teenager lugging it around was probably hoping for a Cinderella moment. I wonder if Prince Charming found what he was looking for.

While you ponder on that, this is the speech from ASTI President Gerry Breslin


The unions saw a healthy turnout and a great protest on the day. If anything it was a great experience for the students and a deafening wakeup call to the Dáil. Let’s hope the upcoming budget yields positive news for Irish Education.