When you walk through the gates of the Karloyi Istvan Gyermekkozpont in Fot, Hungary you are pleasantly surprised. Rows of dorm-like homes emerge from behind ancient trees. The land once belonged to the Count whom it is named after. It was seiged by the government and turned into a housing facility for children seeking help from their dysfunctional and poverty-stricken families. Gyermekkozpont is its own community.
Having visited the City of Children many times over the years, I have become impressed by the quiet, and often hidden, power and beauty. The community has its distinguishing characteristics, but if you dig deeper, you will find that there exists a direct connection between these surface traits and the universal truths that lie just beneath, truths about human nature and condition we all share.
At first glance you might simply see the people photographed as very different from yourself, but after a longer look, you see the commonality of our life experiences. There is a bond between all people through which we can relate to one another, and it just needs to be recognized. The connection may be the memory of teen-age angst, a feeling of isolation, or the joy of laughing with a great friend.
Since 2002 I have photographed the children in and around their home. I have always been interested in people. As a first-generation American of Hungarian descent, my interest in Gyermekkozpont is personal. I spent my childhood summers in Hungary, speak the language, and have family in Hungary. I believe the home is where our strength lies. It’s the source of everything, where all our fears, questions, love, and a sense of belonging originate.