The Vietnamese are one of the biggest national minorities in Poland. The majority of Poland’s 30 000 Vietnamese live in Warsaw, where they earn their living mostly by selling clothes and running bars and restaurants. Almost 80% of them are illegal immigrants. The language barrier, Polish intolerance, rigid working and resident laws are the reasons why they have created a closed society, hardly ever letting strangers in. However, young Vietnamese are already third-generation immigrants. Poles know very little about their life and culture. They work, study and have fun almost exclusively with other Vietnamese.
Feature / At the border / Ba Lan by Rafal Milach
At the Border
At the border (2006-2007) is a photo-essay describing the illegal labour market in new European Union member states (Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia). Faced with poor economic conditions, lack of jobs and of means of support, many citizens of the former Soviet republics and other countries beyond - from South East Asia to Africa - are forced to leave their homes to seek better opportunities in the “New Europe”. The money they earn and send back home is in many cases the only source of income for their families. These migrants live and work illegally in the new EU member states, surviving in a foreign culture, on the verge of legality. They often do not see their partners and children for years. They make no plans because in their world there is no future. They live from day to day. Book design: Ania Nalecka / TBD and Rafal Milach