August 13 2015
Journalistic experiment: what it means to be a Muslim in Lithuania

Two female journalists, when making a research, tried to live as Muslims and to have a chance to feel on their own what experience women covering their faces by veils in Lithuania.

Journalistic experiment: what it means to be a Muslim in Lithuania

Two female journalists, when making a research, tried to live as Muslims and to have a chance to feel on their own what experience women covering their faces by veils in Lithuania.

Jurgita Laurinėnaitė-Šimelevičienė, Giedrė Buivydienė, weekly Veidas

About 3 thousand Muslims live in Lithuania, however, why we almost don’t see women covering their hair by headscarves and their body lines – by long gown as it is common for female Muslims?

If, anyway, our sight catches somewhere a woman with the head coverage or the veil opening just her eyes, we may be almost always sure that she is only a random foreigner.

Here Tatars, the majority of whom are Muslims-Sunnites, have been living in Lithuania for almost 600 years. After renewal of independence in Lithuania, the number of Muslims having come from Turkey, Africa and other countries started increasing as well. Lithuania is becoming a new home not only for Islam-professing refugees from states being convulsed by unrest – nowadays we also hear intentions to accept hundreds of Muslim refugees from African countries – but also for foreigners coming to study or work here.

After fall of the Iron Curtain, another tendency was also noticed, i.e. more and more Lithuanian women having moved to foreign countries for their work or holidays, start romance relations with Muslims, make families but come back to Lithuania to start here their family life. Often Lithuanian women, having become wives of Muslims, convert themselves to Islam; thus, a light-haired, blue-eyed and Lithuanian-speaking Muslim is not any news in Lithuania of 21st century.

Nevertheless, it seems as if Muslims do not exist in Lithuania at all. As well as homosexuals and homogenous couples growing up children „do not exist“. Equally as there “weren‘t“ disabled people living on the upper floors of blockhouses without elevators during the Soviet times.

Our research shows that majority of Lithuanian Muslims (in particular – women) feel themselves almost the same as do homosexuals because both of them are made to live double life due to intolerance and stereotypical attitudes of society. Only some of them conceal from their familiar people their sexual orientation and the other – the chosen religion and lifestyle based on its requirements.

As the newest social survey represents, about one third of Lithuanians would not like to live in the neighbourhood of and rent accommodation to Muslims, and about one fifth of them would not like to work in the same job place with Muslims. Muslims in the eyes of Lithuanians are one of the least preferable social groups, like the Roma (gypsy), former prisoners, mental patients, homosexuals or Chechens.

“Many familiar people do not know that I am a Muslim. I am just too weak to fight against stereotypes and argue that my husband was not forcing me to accept Islam, that it was my choice and I feel better so, that I have not betrayed Jesus and have not done anything bad. I am choosing not better but easier way. Moreover, I do not want to worry some family members, in particular – elderly ones, as they will not really understand and get nervous without any reason“, a Lithuanian female, having converted to Islam two years ago and together with her foreigner husband living in Vilnius, said to Veidas. The young woman, who will be called as Agne here, asked not to mention her real name and details of her personal life as she fears to be recognized by her friends and familiar people.

The interviewee has disclosed that she is wearing a traditional black dress of Muslim women and even a facial coverage niqab only when visiting the motherland of her husband. She would like to dress herself so in Lithuania; however, so far she has not had sufficient courage to wear even hijab – to cover her hair by a cloak. The woman is sure that it would not be safe for a traditionally dressed Muslim woman in Lithuania.

“It happens in France that Muslim women wearing facial coverage niqab are being raped or hit. I haven‘t heard anything about violence cases against Muslim women in Lithuania but I just feel uncomfortable to wear Muslim clothes here. People look and replicate. You must be very strong to be yourself and overcome all stereotypes. I cannot do it yet. I do not know what will be future“, – Agnė expresses her self-feeling.

Therefore, how indeed a woman wearing traditional Muslim clothes feels in Lithuania? What do Muslim women experience in our country? Finally, is our society already prepared to accept differently looking people?

To find answers to these and other questions, authors of these lines decided to make a journalistic experiment to self-assure what means to be a Muslim in Lithuania. Having dressed in abaja – a long black Muslim gown and having covered our hair by cloaks and our faces – by niqabs, we tried to experience what Agnė and other Muslim women living in Lithuania do not dear doing yet: we were walking around the downtown, visiting shopping centres and a cafe, buying in the market, riding the public transport, going to the state institution to arrange personal affairs, trying to rent an accommodation and even looking for a job.

Our goal was to experience by ourselves if our society nowadays is sufficiently mature to respect and accept people having chosen another religion, and what imprint on our approach towards Muslims was made by the events of the 11th September and the armed attack in the editorial office of Charlie Hebdo.

Therefore, we are starting examination of tolerance of Lithuanians.

The first day: appearance in public

Finally the day comes when we decide to start our journalistic experiment. We meet at home of one of us and start dressing.

We decide in advance that we will wear long and wide black abajas; however, Jurgita will wear a scarf and Giedrė will put niqab that will cover fully her face. Finally we are ready – with some efforts used two Muslim women are looking at us from the mirror.

Just prior starting the research, our familiar people and friends, who have heard of our intentions, tried to discourage us not to go out to the street dressed that way. Many of them thought that we seriously risk ending our experiment somewhere at the reception of the hospital… Nevertheless, we collect our last stuff, look through the peephole if our neighbours are not here (that would be really undesirable to meet them) and go out quickly to the staircase.

Having got down to the first floor, suddenly we get confused and barely go back as we get to see two neighbours talking just at the entrance outside. Our courage evaporates like smoke. We are stepping around tentatively in the staircase for a few minutes not having enough courage to appear outside. Excitement, anxiety and fear. Nobody knows how long we would be stepping in the staircase if not an elevator from which another neighbour appeared. He got to smile with popped eyes and went away.

Thus, there is no way backwards – we open the entry door and pass through evidently stunned neighbours with our leaned heads. We get to feel at once that their conversation is interrupted and their curious looks cross us through. We get distant from them in a hurry and after getting onto the car take a breath with relief.

It is necessary to acknowledge that there is quite strange feeling when going out dressed that way. In particular, when wearing a veil covering full face. At the beginning it seems that it is hard even to breath.

The Muslim Agnė affirms that she likes very much wearing a niqab when visiting in her husband‘s motherland as so dressed she feels alike unseen – nobody pays attention at her in the street, is not overlooking and does not replicate as it often happens when a woman not hiding her physical attractiveness appears in the street. However, we self-assure soon that the situation in Lithuania is totally controversial. A woman wearing a veil, in contrary, gets into the centre of attention and she becomes instantly a universal target of gossips.

Until we get used to reactions of surrounding people, we decide to have a walk along Gedinimas Avenue – you could see majority of representatives of other cultures and races in the main street of the capital where there are plenty of people after the midday of the working day; therefore, we should not seriously surprise by-passers as well. However, the very first responses of by-passers make prick up our ears. „Oh Goodness!“ – a middle-aged woman gets surprised loudly when passing us. We become uncomfortable but are stepping forward. In a while, we understand that we will have to get used to such replicas as we attract looks of surrounding people as a magnet.

Majority of by-passers or people having their lunch at tables in outdoor cafes are staring at us not withdrawing their eyes; teenagers start giggling (one of them choking with laughter brings a phrase “Allahu Akbar!“ (Eng. – “God is the greatest”) to us, and Vilnius residents walking in pairs or groups start whispering. We direct our eyes downwards; however, the feeling that everybody look at us and observe and some of them are probably even horrified does not leave us. Scarfs reduce surrounding sounds and we almost do not hear what surrounding people whisper; however, it is enough to s
top at the traffic lights and we get to hear again behind us: „Look, Muslim women. What a horror!“.

Having passed Gedinimas Avenue, we move to the Cathedral Square, and then go upwards along Pilies street. We see how a young lady tries to pretend taking picture of the street by her mobile phone, though the camera is evidently directed to us. Later, we will notice people taking pictures of us not once – both secretly and not concealing it at all.

We turn to the “French park” where we notice a girl sitting on the bench and a guy lying on her knees. The girl whispers something to the guy and he gets to sit at once to look at us. Necks of men sitting on the further benches stretch as that of swans – everybody wants to inspect us closely. Meantime we are walking further around the city followed by surprised looks, whispers and giggling. When walking along Totorių street, we get to see a middle-aged suit-dressed man of intelligent appearance, who rushes towards us and snaps straight in the eye when passing us: “Why have you put these outs on your face?“.

After the first day of the experiment, we get home heated – from both sun heat and obsessively pursuing glances. We have to admit that having taken off this wearing we really got into relief.

The second day: going to the state institution

On the second day of the experiment we started out to the city again. We decided to visit a state institution – we called in Vilnius Territorial Health Insurance Fund to change European Health Insurance Card, entitling to free emergency medical assistance abroad, due to its expired validity term. We chose the state institution totally random.

Just entering the institution we get to feel directed glances of the security worker on duty at the entrance and later – glances of people waiting at the reception. We get to print necessary coupon with the queue number and get to sit.

Our turn comes soon and Giedrė, wearing a long black gown and covering her face with niqab, moves towards the servicing officer. The employee looks neither confused nor surprised. She gives a form to be filled in for a new card to us and asks to provide an identity card. Then she stands up and turns aside somewhere for a few minutes.

After some time the officer comes back and politely asks: “Excuse me, could you please show your face to me to prove your identity?“. I do not start dispute and just say that wearing a veil is required by my religion. The employee also answers politely that she understands it but adds that it should not matter if I uncover my face to the woman.

“I can slightly turn aside“, – offers the employee, making possibility for me to unclose my face not to be seen by other people in the premise. When I lift the veil for a while, the employee thanks me and after a moment gives over my requested document – a new European Health Insurance Card.

I must admit that such subtle conduct of the officer of the Health Insurance Fund pleasantly surprised me. Even though it is likely that similar situations are not frequent in this institution, the officer did not get confused, behaved politely and respectfully. Such service indeed could be evaluated in ten points.

The third day: buying in the market and looking for a job

We decide to start the third day of the experiment by buying in the Halė market. The red signal of the traffic lights close to the market stops us at the pedestrians crossing together with a small group of by-passers. A young woman standing in front of us and holding a child’s hand is having a phone conversation and turns to us from time to time. „Here are those, how are they called, Muslim women! Both dressed in black, one with fully covered face and another with a scarf and sunglasses“, the woman tells somebody loudly feeling herself free.

We step into the market and suddenly it seems as if everybody‘s eyes will pop out of their orbits. Sellers are overlooking us even hanged over the stalls and buyers turn to us from time to time. It is likely that the Halė market have never seen such buyers. „Please please, come up. New collection came“, – we get surprised having heard an invitation of an elderly seller but soon we get to smile having seen that we are invited to the pavilion by the seller of scarves and shawls.

We stop at one stall to buy some berries and notice how our photographer Adomas, having stopped not far away from us, take pictures of us. „He filmed those black women“, – an elderly woman standing beside us says to the sellers. It is the second time already during a few minutes when strange people standing close to us speak so as if we were empty place or some any decoration but not alive people. Then conversation starts with the seller. She is interested what country we live in and whereof nationality our husbands are.

“I think that religion is everybody‘s choice, – she assures and inquires immediately. – Are you ok? Don‘t you need to count every Litas?“ After confirmation that we are happy and materially supported the seller noddles approvingly: „Good, since I alone had to grow up three kids, it was very hard. Visit me any time, I always trade here, either myself or my daughter.“

Adomo Rutkausko nuotr.

After buying in the market, our next task is to find a job. We decide that Jurgita will try to find job in the trade networks shops. This time we leave the niqab in the car: we decide that even without it we could face high challenges.

After calling to Rimi located in Savanorių Avenue, we inquire if they are currently looking for employees. We are confirmed that they are looking for employees and receive an invitation to visit them in the afternoon. After a few hours we arrive at Rimi and go the information office.

Our appearance seems funny to the guy working here – turning his eyes aside and suppressing his smile as much as possible he listens up our request to call the chief cashier, as it has been agreed by phone. “No, she is having lunch at the moment, please come an hour later“, – after talking on phone, the guy informs us. We thank him and go out.

During that time we decide to visit one more shopping centre, this time – Maxima. We get into the shop and ask for the first seen female employee where to apply regarding job. The employee evidently gets surprised but, having asked nothing, accompanies us to the service entrance and asks to wait. Five, ten minutes pass but nobody comes to us – we see how the shop‘s staff behind the door stop to overlook us through the door window.

After some time, a director, as we understand, comes through the door. An elegant middle-aged woman looks askingly at us. “We are looking for a job, do you need any employees?“ – Jurgita asks. “Today we have just employed two students. Excuse me, now we really do not need any more employees. Apply to the central personnel division of the trade network “, – offers the head of the shopping centre.

Having failed, we come back to Rimi. “I will just invite a responsible person. Today we have already employed people but I think that we still need some“ – assures the seen guy.

We see how two middle-aged female employees come into the offfice and, secretly overlooking us, discuss something silently. After a few minutes the same employees come to us. “Are there you who are looking for a job?“ – they ask us. “Yes. We called to you in the morning and you said that you are looking for cashiers“, – we answer.

„Today we have already employed five girls and sent them for medical examination. We do not have vacant places anymore, I am sorry you did not come before“, – the women spread their hands aside. „But we came before and you were having lunch, – we get surprised and still do not settle down: – Don’t you really have any vacant job places? Maybe you will have them later?“ “I do not know, really. But you can try to ask a few weeks later, maybe then some will be“, – our conversers do not want to promise anything.

Therefore, we did not get a job. It is never easy to find a job, thus, we could think that then we just failed. Anyway, the information collected later allows suspecting that success does not matter here. After a few days we called to the same shops and asked for a job.

We got to know that Rimi at Savanorių Avenue needs employees. The director of our visited Maxima firstly resented: „How do you call by phone regarding the job? Yes, I need good employees but I need to see you alive. I need a cashier, an employee of weighing division, a loader. Please, come today or tomorrow“, – the same director, to whom the Muslims perhaps did not seem to be capable to become good employees, explains.

We are making conclusion that employers in Lithuania nowadays do not trust and still avoid candidates with different appearance. On the other hand, it is gratifying that there are also some tolerant people. Even though we did not receive the job in two shops, we would, likely, be employed in other two shops. Our appearance did not shock at all managers of the shops Maxima in Naujininkai and Iki in the North Town. By the way, both managers were young thirty-year-old males.

To say the truth, at the beginning the director of Maxima also hardly suppressed her smile; however, later she inquired business-like Jurgita about her working experience, told about working schedule, salary and its perspectives and later offered a job.

„Will it be possible to wear a scarf at work?“ – we both asked. „To be honest, such case has not happened for me yet. I think that no, as the dressing code is very strict and defines a hair set, makeup and dressing. But I will ask on it“, – the manager of the shop promised. By the way, later we were explained in the Ombudsman for Equal Opportunities that prohibition to the Muslim woman to wear the scarf in the working place could be a pretext for a claim.

We were also particularly kindly accepted in the shop Iki in S. Žukauskas street. “What nice you are“, – we could not believe in our ears when, just having arrived at the shop, we got a compliment from a woman at the cash desk. In the administrative premises, we were accepted by a young guy and woman – even though the employee did not introduce herself, her conduct allowed to guess her being a manager of a few shops of the network.

The director of the shop assured us that at that moment the shop did not need new staff, however, he offered to call himself regarding job to another shop. At that moment the woman started asking us if the job in the city centre would suit to us: “We need very much employees in Flagman. Do you know where it is? Would it suit to you?“ Having noddled agreeing by us, the woman just called to the mentioned shop and promised to send two girls there.

Both the manager of the shop and the woman looked generous and kind; therefore, after so many unkind experiences when wearing Muslim dresses we left the shop with sincere pride that we had also met people with tolerant attitudes in Lithuania.

The fourth day: rent of accommodation

We designated the fourth day of the experiment for search of rented accommodation. We found three potentially suitable apartments via an advertisement portal and agreed regarding their inspection. We were looking for two-room apartment in the North Town or in Šeškinė with the rent amount of 300-350 Euros per month. When agreeing regarding the apartment inspection on phone, we, of course, did not say about our religion, just specified that a young family with a kid would live in the apartment.

This time we decide to dress as simply as possible. Jurgita wears a scarf and a black abaja, and Giedrė, whose family as if is looking an apartment for rent, wears patterned tunic up to knees bought in the Muslim countries, pants and also a scarf. We decided to look for an apartment not covering our faces as we understood that, if wearing a veil, we would rather reduce our chances to rent.

All three our liked apartments were rented via agencies; therefore, we were agreeing regarding their inspection with brokers.

The very first two-room apartment to be inspected is in S.Žukauskas street. The beginning of the apartment search is successful for us – we agree without any difficulties regarding rent of the apartment.

Soon after it we go to inspect one more apartment, which is in Gelvonų street, in Šeškinė. We meet with the broker at the entrance to the block flat. A young man having seen us evidently gets confused. Even though he tries not to show it, after greetings he firstly asks us if we have been looking for an apartment much time.

A middle-aged woman with a guy is waiting for us in the apartment (most probably her son); however, we only greet but the apartment is showed and everything is told about by the broker. Old-construction apartment looks tidy and renovated. “Everything suits for us, we want to rent it,“ – we say to the broker. “Well, if it suits to you and you will suit to the hosts, we can sign an agreement“, – the broker says.

The woman waiting in the kitchen looks confused. Our dresses evidently embarrass her; she is observing us for some time obviously shocked. After awkward silence the woman finally clears up who would like to live in the apartment. Giedrė answers that she will live with her husband and a kid and Jurgita is just her friend helping her to look for an apartment.

„Oh, this is your friend?! – the woman re-asks with a big surprise. – As, you know, various questions come to me…“ It was unclear what she had in mind but we get to feel that the tone of the woman gets smoother and becomes not as cold. It seems as if we are breaking ice step by step. We start talking. „And who are your husbands? – having heard that we are Muslim females married to persons of other nationalities, inquires further the hostess. Giedrė answers that her husband is from Egypt.

Likely, the hostess is calmed a little bit by it. “Well, Egyptians seem good people“, – she adds. We ask if our religion is an obstacle to rent this apartment. The woman shakes her head, just hints that, when accepting tenants you can never know what people you may meet. At the end of the conversation, the hostess of the apartment replies that “everything suits to her“ but notes that the last word has to be said by her husband.

It seems a little bit strange – if we came to inspect an apartment wearing ordinary dresses, most probably, we would agree with the hostess regarding the rent at once and she would inform her husband just on the fact of successful rent of the apartment. However, she sees in front of her not ordinary residents of Vilnius, but two Muslim women wearing scarves; therefore, the woman doubts what decision to make. We call to the broker after a few hours and get to hear good news – the apartment is ours! Therefore, slightly more difficult but anyway we also successfully rent the second inspected apartment.

The same day we inspect the third accommodation in Musninkų street. This time we are met by a charming and very curious broker. Having seen us, she looks also rather surprised and when in lift, she praises our wearing and, excusing for her curiosity, clarifies why we are wearing scarves. We answer the same as to other people – that we are Muslims. We enter the apartment and are met there by hosts of it – a young couple with a baby.

After a quick inspection of the apartment and common questions we state that the apartment is suitable for us and we would like to rent it. Then, reaction of both hosts and the broker slightly surprises us again. “You can still think. Do not hurry“ – we get to hear from the owner of the apartment holding the baby in her arms. We agree to think yet and to call soon.

After leaving the apartment, the broker pours us with questions, desiring to know as much as possible about potential tenants of the apartment. „Well. How did you choose this religion? Probably following your husbands, didn‘t you? Where did you „shoot up“ those husbands, perhaps in some resort? How is specific your life style?“ – the broker pours questions.

At the end, she says especially valuing people who are not ashamed of their religion, and we says good bye. In the evening, we call to inform that we really want to rent this apartment and the broker promises to send immediately the rent agreement for coordination – it is likely that the third try to find an accommodation when wearing the Muslims‘ dress was successful for us.

It might be said that it is only accident or perhaps it could be based on the summer still in the real estate market; however, we must accept that the accommodation search was not as difficult as we expected. Yes, it happens to get many questions and both hosts of apartments and brokers looked at us unreliably at the beginning. However, after wider communication and answering to all questions, ice can be broken – if hosts of an apartment like you as a person, your dress or religion will not matter.

Most of Muslims start their life in other countries

When wearing the Muslim dresses we experienced everything during four days, including contempt, pity, resentment, discrimination, derision, curiosity but also sincere interest and generosity. In overall, there was more negative attitude of the surrounding people to us; thus, every time, when taking off the Muslim dresses, we got much easier.

Exaggerated attention of the surrounding even encourages a part of Muslim families to emigrate – Muslim Lithuanian females feel abroad freer.

“We do not plan definitely to come back to live to Lithuania – not as for ourselves but for our children. It is just horrible to think how much sneer we should have to suffer and how difficult it would be to accommodate in the Lithuanian culture“, – affirms 31-year-old Giedrė Cherfaoui, who grows up two children with her Algerian husband and has been living in suburbs of Paris for eight years.

Another Lithuanian woman, who introduces herself by the Muslim name Nur al-Huda, has been already living for five years in Tunisia; prior it, she lived seven years with her husband in Lithuania and a couple of years – in the other European countries.

“I have not visited Lithuania for five years, but, when living here, initially I had very big complexes for being the Muslim woman. It is very difficult to be the Muslim woman in Lithuania as you are an exception. For example, even though you can wear a scarf in the passport picture as there is officially established religious community and even a muftiat, migration female employees conceal it and firstly try to make you take off the head cover“, – 38-year five-children mother tells.

It was very hard for Nur al-Huda‘s family in Lithuania, and first of all, because of her husband. They spent half of their life in migration services. “We got exhausted, over-burned. We moved also due to the fact that the elder son had to go to the first class – we wanted that he learnt in Arabic language and lived in the Muslim environment. My husband would like to let our children study in Lithuania or other European countries but I do not agree with it – I do not want to provide them with such testing“, – the Lithuanian woman discloses.

Muslims have difficulties in Lithuania not only due to reaction of surrounding people to their wearing – it is difficult to them to follow other religious requirements as well. Practicing Muslims pray five times a day; however, in Lithuania unlike in the Western Europe, there are no praying rooms in the shopping centres, institutions or offices; moreover, many people are stopped by the thought what colleagues will think.

The Tatar Hamza Beganskas, the director of Islamic Centre of Culture and Education, admits that even his family not always manages to live following Islamic values. The man did not conceal that his wife also not always wears a Muslim headscarf even though it is a sin – the same as to eat pork or use alcohol.

Muslims also face other everyday difficulties in Lithuania. For example, it is difficult to find halal meat, which is suitable to eat for Muslims (when the cow is slaughtered trying to stress him as little as possible, saying „in the name of Allah“ and bleeding him), in common shopping centres.

Due to unfavourable public attitude some Muslim couples avoid giving Muslim names to their children or give two names – one Lithuanian and another – Muslim. For example, a girl can be called Jolanta Hava and a boy – Tomas Mustafa.

  1. Beganskas admits: he has the name of Aleksandras in his passport, though the most familiar people have been calling him as Hamza all his life. During the Soviet occupation, when Muslims were prosecuted due to their religion, most often any common name used to be written in the child‘s passport but he was called by the “true“ Muslim name in the kin circle. Neither to enrol university or get better job then was available having the Muslim name.
  2. Cherfaoui emphasizes that community of Muslims is increasing in Lithuania; therefore, she hopes that the situation is getting better step by step.

Nevertheless, the newest survey made under the order of the Lithuanian Social Research Centre, revealed that approach of even 42 percent of Lithuanians with regard to Muslims worsened during recent five years. After the events of the 11th September, terror acts in the editorial Office Charlie Hebdo and other tragic events, image of Muslim community was seriously affected.

Islamologyst Prof. Dr. Egdūnas Račius, the head of Regional Studies Department of Vytautas Magnus University, states that, nowadays, it is undoubtedly not advantage to be a Muslim. According to him, it was led by frequent bloody arracks related to Muslims, which were counted not in dozens during recent decades. “Identification of individuals, terrorists with wholeness is a great problem; however, when we speak, what religion and tradition causes the most violence, we will have to admit that in most cases it is that of Muslims. But, to prove to a person who encounters a stinking drunkard that not all drunkards are stinking and using curse words, is very difficult.“

Milda Ališauskienė, the head of the New Religions Research and Information Centre, says that when talking about Islam and Muslims, we think immediately about the Muslim, having seized an airplane and participating in beheadings. Such image of Muslims has been formed in the public space for some time in both Lithuania and other countries.

Nevertheless, M. Ališauskienė makes conclusion that attitudes with regard to Muslims really change when individual communication starts: when neighbours see that adjacent living Muslims are rather kind people and the manager of the company self-assures that a Muslim employed by him perfectly carries out his duties. „In this way, stereotypes formed in the society are being destroyed“, – she says.

It was also approved by our journalistic experiment: there are no doubts that sincere communication with met people helped us in search of both accommodation and job, even though overall reaction of surrounding people towards our appearance in public places was negative.

The investigation was initiated for Media4Change Investigative Journalism Competition

Media4change tiriamųjų darbų konkursas rengiamas įgyvendinant Europos Ekonominės Erdvės finansinio mechanizmo 2009-2014 periodo NVO Programos Lietuvoje remiamo projekto „Visi skirtingi – visi lygūs: aktyvus dalyvavimas, įvairovė, žmogaus teisės“ dalis.  Kūrinys atspindi tik autoriaus požiūrį, todėl NVO Programa Lietuvoje negali būti laikoma atsakinga už bet kokį jame pateikiamos informacijos naudojimą.