Roma (Gypsies) are the largest and most discriminated minority in Europe. Their level of education is lower than other Europeans. Their health is poorer, their unemployment rate is higher and their life expectancy are shorter than other Europeans. The history of Roma in Europe is dark and through the ages they have been subjected to racial hatred and outright extermination.
The last three years Sweden and other rich countries in northern Europe has been subjected for a desperate migration from extremely poor Roma people from Bulgaria and Romania. They have no other solution than to go abroad to find a work and get money to pay their debts and feed their hungry children. Within the European Union it's allowed for the citizens to stay up to 3 months in another EU country without work and up to 6 months if you have a work.
Stanki nashti chi arakenpe manushen shai is Romani and it means Mountains do not meet, but people do. I have been working as a freelance reporter and photojournalist around the world. The meeting with people is very important for me. I don't want to be like a fly on the wall who sees everything but don't want to interact. I want to interact. I want to learn to know new people. I want to connect with them. And I want to tear down the prejudices I might have and tell their story not mine.
Although Roma people has been subjected to persecution and oppression for generations in Europe, they are a happy people as you can see in the pictures. Despite all the difficulties they have been through, they are always close to a good laugh. Joy and music welds them together and it has become a way for them to escape from all the hatred and oppression that they are constantly subjected to.
The Roma mothers and fathers in the pictures came to Sweden with the hope of getting work. Most of them did not find any work, and they had to beg on the streets to raise money for themselves and their children back in Romania. I didn't want to photograph them in the vulnerable position when they begged for money. Therefore I decided to meet them on equal terms in their camp. I wanted to get to know them and build relations with them in order to photograph them at their own terms. If possible I shall visit my newfound friends in their villages in northeast Romania and meet them and their children and grandchildren in their own environment.
Click the following link if you want to see more pictures: www.flickr.com/photos/chasid68
Text and Photo: Mikael Good