The Opre Roma project (Forward / Onward Roma) aims to create educational materials to celebrate and affirm Roma language and identity, in schools attended by Roma children. Roma children and young people often hide their identity, for fear of persecution and racism, and also teachers often do not have the knowledge or resources to respect their identity and culture. We aim develop two resources that are practical and can be used by schools, families and other organisations to promote inclusion and awareness of the presence of Roma children.
These resources would see Roma language and culture valued and respected in schools, promoting understanding and community cohesion. We will involve Roma children and families in every step of the project, from design, and ultimately involvement at the launch event around January 2019
Through a lot of previous work in London, across the UK and internationally Nomadic has built up a strong and wide range of community contacts and involvements with predominantly Roma, from Romania, Poland and the Czech and Slovak Republics. The project should take approximately one year to complete.
The project will involve two strands that have a particularly strong resonance with Roma culture; story telling and the Romani language:
1. A compilation of Roma Folk Stories (or tales with a moral or teaching point). These would be collected from community members and worked into a format including illustrations (by a Roma artist) that would be accessible and available to schools across the UK. The finished book will be available as an e-book and print-on-demand via e.g. Amazon. There is no such resource in the English language in Europe or more directly in the UK.
2. The other strand will focus on the Romani language. We plan build an app (either web based or iOS/Android) that would be an interactive tool, based around pictures in a child friendly format. It is essentially an interactive picture dictionary, which speaks basic school vocabulary in English and in three Romani Dialects. The app will also feature several educational games that would help children build their English vocabulary in an interesting and entertaining way.
The language spoken by most Roma is really defining feature of Roma identity. The language has its roots in Sanskrit from India, and shows the route the 1000 year journey from there to all parts of Europe and the World. The dialects would represent the majority of the communities of Roma who are in most UK schools ie. Vlach (SE European dialect), Polska Romani (Poland and associated areas) and possibly Vychod, a Slovakian dialect of Slovak.
The app will provide interesting and engaging educational resources which will contribute to mutual understanding and respect between Romani and other communities in schools. (e.g. the similarities between Romani and Urdu, Panjabi and Hindi open many opportunities for discovery).
Schools are regularly contacting us for resources that could be used with Roma children and young people, however few if any exist.
The end of the project would be marked by publishing the book and launching the app. The stories will be available on Kindle as inividual downloadable digital stories, and a hard copy book that will include the complete anthology. The end of the project will be marked by a celebratory event including, Roma food and music, to thank those who have contributed and to promote and celebrate the resources to potential users and others.