‘Bronxites’ gives an intimate and personal view of my new friends and neighbors of my community in the Bronx. My neighborhood is known as University Heights. It’s situated in the South Bronx – on University Ave between 183rd street and Fordham Road.  This photo document represents the people of the South Bronx today – the borough of New York that is mostly known as a ghetto and it’s troublesome past.

Through a mutual friend, a very unlikely but special friendship arose between Gilbert, who lives in the Bronx for almost 40 years and me, a young photographer from The Netherlands. In 2008 Gilbert gave me the opportunity to move to the Bronx, to share space in his apartment and pursue my long-held ambition to photograph individuals from communities rarely seen.

At first sight the Bronx looked rough and challenging to me. However as I gained trust and found more and more individuals whose lives they would let me document I became exhilarated and very moved by the resiliency of this community.

As a former social worker I am very interested listening to people’s stories and learned that a lot of my new neighbours are survivors- of abandonment, arson and of drug epidemics. But in spite of these challenges they have been able to transform their Bronx neighbourhoods into places where people from a wide variety of backgrounds can feel at home.  Including myself. I feel very welcome, safe and connected with this community.

from left to right: Chantal – Bart – Mohammed, Gilbert & Jessie | New Years Eve 01-01-2000