I am a Roma woman from Bosnia and Herzegovina, a minority of minorities in Europe. At age 15, according to Roma tradition, my family tried to arrange my marriage. For years, I resisted for which I was ostracized within my family and community, while I was facing discrimination from the wider society for being a Roma. I suffered deeply in private, but after receiving a scholarship to study contemporary performance art, I created photography and video performance works that critiqued this tradition while simultaneously critiquing the privileged Western impulse to discriminate the Roma people as backward.
I was determined to complete my education to escape early marriage. But I struggled due to a lack of resources and faced prejudice because of being a Roma. My family lived without electricity for 10 years; nevertheless, I still insisted on going to school every day even if I did not have anything to eat. I believed in the beauty of my dreams, which I knew were achievable only through education. A strong inclination toward education, arts, and books, made me stronger and made me believe in myself.
Fortunately, during my education, I was supported by the Bosana Organization, which incentivized me with scholarships to pursue my dreams. It is crucial to recognize the impact of scholarship funds - I would not have been able to attend school otherwise. I want to empower the women and children not only from my ghetto but also future women and children, wherever they are in the world.
I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free
human being with an independent will.