In December 2008 I went to photograph the post-war reconstruction in Kosovo being done by the Italian NATO contingent that had come to keep the peace. The soldiers were rebuilding bridges, schools and roads—nearly a decade after the war had ended. In the town of Gjakova, I was told about some families living in a slum built on a garbage dump. When I went there I realized it was a story about children and how their families tried to make ends meet. They made a living recycling the garbage they lived on.
Last week out of the blue I started getting emails from all over Europe—Switzerland, Austria and Germany. Everyone was asking about a picture I had taken back on that trip to Kosovo. They wondered if I knew how my photo was being used. I realized the photo was being taken out of context. These were kids—living in the backdrop of war—who were playing around, excited to have a foreigner take their photo.
I saw a Swiss magazine using my photo to incite and fear and hatred of the Roma. They were showing a completely different picture. That was not what I had shot—not what I had seen. I saw a kid having fun with one of the few playthings that those children had.