LSU | Learn by Experience

Learn by Experience

Learn by experience


The project Learn by experience is an exchange visit between Roma Youth in Turkey (Roman Genclik Dernegi) and Roma Youth in Sweden (Romska ungdomsförbundet). The aim of the project is for the organizations to exchange experiences. For example; how can Roma pride and Roma culture be promoted? How can discrimination against the Roma population be stopped?


The ones taking part in the meeting: Veysi Akin, Fatih Karabuldt, Selcuk Karadoniz, Figen Kelmer, Muhammed Tag and Erland Kaldaras.

The ones taking part in the meeting: Veysi Akin, Fatih Karabuldt, Selcuk Karadoniz, Figen Kelmer, Muhammed Tag and Erland Kaldaras.

It is a cold day the 25th of November 2015 and 5 representatives from Roma Youth in Turkey have gathered at the office of Roma Youth in Sweden, in the city of Malmö. The chairman of Roma Youth in Sweden is telling the Turkish visitors about the latest news in Sweden.


“This morning the camp of the Roma EU migrants were destroyed by the police. They scattered all their belongings and they have no where to go.”


The chairman of Roma Youth in Sweden, Erland Kaldaras, is explaining that it is common that Roma people from Rumania and other EU countries migrate to Sweden in order to beg on the streets. Some of them live in camps outside the city center, camps that now have been destroyed by the Swedish police.


The representatives from the two organizations conclude that the Roma population is being discriminated against both in Sweden and in Turkey. Whereas the discrimination of Roma people in Turkey is more open, it is more hidden in Sweden. In both countries, one can be denied a job or an apartment if one says one is Roma.


Figen Kelmer from Roma Youth in Turkey explains that there are several similarities but also differences between Roma Youth in Turkey and Roma Youth in Sweden. In Sweden there are big Roma organization with financial support from the government. In Turkey there are only some small, upcoming Roma NGO:s with little financial support.


Erland mentions that the other main difference between Sweden and Turkey concerns how the Roma population is preserving their culture.


In Sweden, the Roma population has been excluded from the majority society for 450 years. Therefore, we preserved our language and culture. The exclusion has lead to problems of integration and there are even some from the older Roma generation who does not speak Swedish. Today we see that many Roma people in Sweden try to be Swedish and take on Swedish traditions” says Erland.


Figen fills in: “In Turkey we have not been allowed to be Roma. It was forbidden to speak Romanes so we have forgotten our language and culture. However, opposite to Sweden we can see that many Roma people in Turkey try to be Roma again”.


During the exchange visit, the differences and similarities between the two organizations become clear. Figen explains in what way the two organizations have been able to share their experience and learn from the experience of the other:


“We have really learned a lot from this visit. We got many new ideas that could be applied in Turkey. For example during our field visit here, we noticed that the Roma schools are really important tools for Roma integration. We also visited a Roma centre which offers informative lectures about Roma history, both for the Roma population and the majority populations. Education is a good way to decrease the discrimination of the Roma people. We would like to introduce the majority population to the Roma culture. We also got an idea of starting up a Roma Youth Network in Turkey. Today there are about 300-350 Roma NGOs in Turkey but there are only 40 who are working actively”.


Erland fills in: “We got many ideas on how we could cooperate further. It would be interesting to do a study visit to Turkey to show the Swedish youth that the Roma Youth in Turkey work under very different conditions. We faced the same challenges 15-20 years ago. It would also be interesting to know more about the history of the Roma group in Turkey. We only know our own history. These kinds of meetings enhance our historical knowledge. This is something we can implement in our own story telling in Sweden”



Short facts about the organizations:



The Roma Youth in Turkey collaborates with the university and does research on Roma culture. The also provide the government with information about Roma culture and traditions.

The Roma Youth in Sweden promote Roma culture by producing TV programmes, making schools books and giving lectures. Their activities are financed by government support.


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