Haastattelijana JAANA WIKGREN 8.4.2015

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Projektikoordinaattori Jaana Wikgren Romanien päivänä 8.4.2015

"Romanilapsilta jää nykyään pois se rikkaus, mikä ennen tuli isovanhemmilta"

Minkälaista on elämä nykypäivän romaniperheessä? Minkälaisia arvoja romanit pitävät tärkeinä? Miten auttaa syrjäytymisvaarassa olevia romaninuoria, jotka eivät ole kiinnittyneet omaan kulttuuriinsa eivätkä pääväestön kulttuuriin?

Romanikulttuuri on muutoksessa - yhteisöllisyys ei ole enää niin vahvaa, eivätkä isovanhemmat ja lähisukulaiset ole yhtä tärkeässä roolissa kuin ennen. Osalla romaninuorista on suuria vaikeuksia elämässään. Toisaalta yhä useampi romaninuori suorittaa peruskoulun loppuun ja osa aikaisin perheen perustaneista romaneista haluaa jatkaa opintojaan myöhemmin.

Ensi- ja turvakotien liitto oli mukana Romano Missio ry:n Naisten vuoro-projektissa (2010-14), jolla autettiin romaninaisvankeja Suomessa. Työ jatkuu Muutoksen vuoro-projektissa. www.romanomissio.fi

Jaana Wikgren kävi haastattelemassa Romano Missio ry:n toiminnanjohtaja Tuula Åkerblomia,  palveluohjaaja Tuula Blomerusta ja sosiaalipalveluohjaaja Alida Frimania Romanien päivänä 8.4.2015. Katso haastattelu videolta. (kesto 4.30 min)

 Alkuperäinen julkaisu löytyy Ensi- ja turvakotien liiton omilta kotisivuilta 


Tuula Åkerlund

Executive Director of Romano Missio


Roma in Society - We Are Different



The Roma have for centuries been an oppressed and discriminated group excluded from society in European countries, including Finland. It was not until after the Second World War that Finland recognised the Roma as an ethnic group whose living conditions should be improved. Afterwards the Roma have been recognised as a national minority. It has been estimated that there are approximately 10,000 Romanis in Finland. Around 3,000 Finnish Romanis live in Sweden.

The Roma have preserved their own language and culture for centuries, although each era has posed different challenges. The position of the Roma in present-day Finland has improved during the past few decades thanks to common efforts of the authorities and the Roma. Furthermore, participation of the Roma in social activities has increased interaction between the majority population and the Roma. It is important to support spontaneous participation of the Roma population and help them find alternative ways of influencing society. The Roma have invested in educating themselves, which gives hope for a better future and is an effective way of preventing their marginalisation.


  1. Introduction


Nowadays we often meet people with different cultural backgrounds. It is difficult to understand and respect a different culture without enough information on it. Correct information helps to reduce prejudice.

When I was a child, I became a victim of several unpleasant prejudices because of my origin and because of being different. When I was at upper secondary school, my roots became important to me and I was pondering my identity. For me, inequality was a heavy burden. I felt as if I were in an aquarium, visible from every direction. I thought it was a gross injustice that I was thrown out of a bar because another Romani had misbehaved. Deep inside I was often furious when I was treated unfairly only because of being a Romani. These situations helped me to see that it is in fact easier to fit into the undesirable mould people build for different persons than to show that I am not the kind of person people think I am. Fighting against prejudices requires mental resources.

Whether we want it or not we will always represent our own group. If we mess up, the whole group will be judged. If we succeed, we are usually exceptions.

It is often difficult to accept people who behave differently than we do in our routine life. We find strange and alien things bewildering. We speak for equality but many of us still think that equality means the same as similarity. When a person can appreciate himself in a healthy manner, he also has the courage to find out about different people. This way unnecessary fears and prejudices diminish and difference is no longer experienced as a threat but even as richness.

If an individual feels already at an early stage that he is considered a second-class citizen, he starts to feel himself an outsider and no healthy commitment can develop to shared 'norms'. Respect and appreciation for the environment changes into an arrogant, defensive and aggressive behaviour.

It is surprisingly difficult to overcome our prejudices and negative attitudes. Even though a person did not have negative experiences on representatives of another group, negative labels and images are transmitted from one generation to another. My own experience has taught me to understand the importance of support as well as that of negative labels. My self-esteem is largely built on the basis of how precious or worthless other people see me.

Finland is becoming more and more multicultural and international. It is therefore important to first come to terms with our own minority groups. This also helps to understand people coming from other parts of the world and their cultures.

  1. Roma in Finland

In this article I will discuss the Roma as well as their history and culture. I use the term 'Roma' since I consider it a more appropriate and positive word than the word 'gypsy', which easily evokes negative associations in many people. Some of the Roma perceive it as an epithet.

The Roma constitute a linguistic and cultural minority group in Finland, which has lived here for over 500 years. It has been estimated that there are approximately 10,000 Romanis in Finland. Around 3,000 Finnish Romanis live in Sweden. The size of the Roma population in Europe has been estimated to be around 10 to 15 million people.

Most of the Roma in Finland are members of the Lutheran church. The Roma are Finnish citizens and have equal civil rights and obligations. They participated in the wars waged in Finland and have made sacrifices in defending Finland's independence. Despite their small number, they have been able to preserve their uniqueness and old cultural traditions. The status of the Roma as a national and traditional minority is safeguarded by the Constitution of Finland of 2000.