The nomads of our time: the Roma People

January 2005 -

How do Roma youngsters feel about their identify? What is their outlook on life? What are their concerns and their ambitions? During a video workshop held in Romania last September they were given the opportunity to express themselves. Roma youngsters from various Eastern European countries made 60-second videos about themselves.

None of the produced videos explicitly discusses their nomadic lives, but their films do represent the implications of this lifestyle: the feeling of not being part of any society, being discriminated against in practically all the countries they live in and not being respected nor accepted by other people in general. Their films are about having dreams and aspirations but knowing these will never become a reality, because society does not even recognize them as civilized human beings.

One 14-year-old boy called Lajos lives in the slums of Targu Mures in Romania. Lajos speaks five languages fluently which he learnt while traveling and selling goods with his parents to survive. Lajos was not allowed to participate in the workshop because he had to take care of his baby brothers for a couple of weeks because his parents had gone abroad to earn some money.

It was an interesting experience for the workshop trainers to see how a nomadic lifestyle influences Roma youngsters in their daily life. Their travels enrich and broaden their views in various ways, but also cause instability and social exclusion.

In Lajos´ case he was not even allowed to be a child, but was forced to take on responsibility like an adult. As for the other youngsters, they were pleased to be given the opportunity to tell their stories and hoped that their films would bring them closer to realizing their dream, which is to be accepted and to be part of 'society'.

This video workshop was organized by the European Cultural Foundation, UNICEF and the Sandberg Institute. For more information please go to