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Bożena Paczkowska (Siwak) (1962) - Biography

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When I die (…) I want you to play music all the way from home to the cemetery, which is quite a walk. I do not want you to grieve, because all my life was devoted to making music and singing’

Bożena Siwak was born on 27 February 1962 in Wrocław, in a family which belonged to Bergitka Roma. Her parents used to live in the region of Jasło before the Second World War, where they had a farm. She had 3 brothers and a sister. One of the brothers died as a young at the age of 25 of kidney disease. She used to attend a primary school in Brochów, Wrocław, which she finished despite clear unwillingness to learn. Bożena has always loved gypsy music. At the age of 8 she used to sing in an amateur gypsy band. Already in 1977 she becomes employed in a professional musical band set up by a manager from Lublin. She goes to concerts under the care of her brother. In the 80's she belongs to a well-known group - TERNO, in which she sings and dances. It is there where she meets Tadeusz Paczkowski from Włocławek, belonging to Polish Roma, who becomes her husband after mutual escape from a concert tour. The have three children all of whom cherish musical talents. The youngest son Gracjan plays with them to this day. In the 80's they both belong to a musical group at Impart, which soon takes over the famous ROMA at Poznań Estrada. They live "out of a suitcase" for many years, going on tours around Europe and even Canada and the USA. Bożena, along with the band, takes part in a film entitled "Torrents of Spring" and appears at Cannes Festival where the film was nominated for Golden Palm Award. She participates in the production of several other films and numerous tv programs realized by TVP. After the change of the political system and the split-up of the group her earning situation deteriorates. The Paczkowskis still play music and go abroad in order to get by. At the beginning of the 21st century they give up musical career and focus on the Romany community in Brochów, Wrocław. Together with Józef Mastej they set up Romani Bacht Association, within which they organize educational and artistic classes for children, they build Romany Centre with a common room for children, computers, gym, family festivities hall and a recording studio. All that is possible thanks to European Funds and support from the City, in addition to extreme individual effort. Over 5 years Bożena runs children's musical band "Terne Romani Bacht" at Social Integration Foundation PROM in Wrocław. At present she is running children's musical band at a primary school in Brochów and artistic and musical classes in the common room at the Romani Bacht Association. She loves music and flowers, she did a course in flowers arrangement. She is not very fond of cooking. She is of the opinion that her husband is much more talented at that, but she is famous for her pierogi (dumplings) enjoyed by her family who come to taste them from all over Europe. She has 9 grandchildren. It is very important for her to guard the Romany tradition and hand it over to younger generations.

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