Two Italian guys, Serena Cantoni and Marco Quaresima, came to Vilnius last week to conduct a research on the LGBT* general situation in Lithuania and realize a photo traveling exhibit that will connect Rome with Vilnius, creating a new international relationship. Our European Volunteer Service (EVS) volunteers, Yuri and Marina (the EVS is a project part of the Erasmus + programme, funded by the European Commission), helped them in finding relevant information, making contacts with people of the LGBT* community in Vilnius, and scheduling different interviews with some members of the National LGBT Right Organization LGL.
Serena and Marco met each other in Korea some years ago. Serena was working as an Italian Language teacher in Seoul, while Marco was attending an overseas university project in the same city. Having in common the passion for photos and video making, they decided to start working together and create a website which would collect all the projects they would have worked on.
The interest for human rights in general and minorities in particular, brought them to Lithuania. The idea was not only to conduct the research in a country were LGBT* people live a not very simple situation, but also to look for a place with few bureaucratic obstacles for freelancer journalists. In fact, making photo-reportages is not their first employment, so Marco and Serena cannot count on many free days from work. Moreover, the project is self-financed.
Serena and Marco arrived in the LGL office on Friday morning around 11 am and they have been welcomed by the Italian volunteer, Marina. After having chosen the right light, organized their equipment and focused the camera lens, they could start making interviews. The first LGL staff member to be interviewed was Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius, LGL human rights policy coordinator, then it came the turn of the project manager Virginija Prasmickaitė, and finally the LGL executive director and co-founder, Vladimir Simonko.
Serena always started the interview asking people to introduce themselves and talking about the reasons why they decided to start working for the organization and when it happened. Then, according to the position covered by each staff member, the questions became more specific. Tomas for example, explained which are the main issues that LGL has to face and how the organization manage them; Virginija talked about racism in the Lithuanian society and the projects she is currently working on; Vladimir went through the main historical changes and then talked about the future steps that LGL has the intention to manage.
During the week other interviews have been conducted, then Serena and Marco moved to Zarasai to realize a reportage on the Lithuanian folk music festival, and finally back to Italy. Once home, they will start working on the future development of the project, promoting the reportage to Amnesty International Italy (with whom they have already cooperated different times and on many others human rights projects). The long term idea by the way, is to realize a photo traveling exhibit, creating a bridge between two European capitals, Rome and Vilnius. We wish Marco and Serena the best possible luck and we hope to see soon the results of the LGBT* research we helped them to conduct.