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Based in Oslo, Norway

“YOU CAN CALL ME A GYPSY IF YOU WANT TO”

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    Many Roma youth are left on their own in Romania for months at the time while their parents live in Norway out of economical necessity. Alexandra, 12- years- old, is visits Loredana, 14-years- old, who has been left on her own for six months while her mother is incartherated in a Norwegian jail.
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    Raul plays in the field as his father gathers fodder for their horse in Drăgoeni, Romania.
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    Luminita gathers wood in the forest to use to heat her home in Drăgoeni, Romania
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    Eleven people from Drăgoeni, Romania travel to Norway at the cost of 150 euro per person. The trip takes four days and is both physically and emotionally exhausting.
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    Oslo, Norway, population 618683. The main street at Grønland where many Roma gather to beg and collect bottles as well as discarded clothing.
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    Two Roma youth play in the elevator on their way to a gay Norwegian friend´s home, he sometimes offers them money for hanging out in his apartment.
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    Bianca at hospital, Targu Jui, Romania
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    Residents of Tetila spending the afternoon swimming in lake Tetila
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    Arranged child marriages are common among Roma. Ramona, 13- years -old is at the hairdresser getting ready for her wedding. The Roma see child marriage as a means to sustain their culture.
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    Ionots shaves his armpits in a public toilette in Oslo, Norway.
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    Private residence near Craiova, Romania
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    Dragoin, Romania
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    Vejorica has been traveling to Norway five months of the year since 2007. Vejorica is saving money so she can give her daughters a better life back in Romania.
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    In Roma culture, sometimes weddings with a large age gap happens. The girl in the photograph, who is 12- year- old, is marrying a man who is 23.
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    Eleven people travel by minibus for four days on the way from Romania to Norway at the cost of 150 euro per person.
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    A group of Roma rest in the forest in Poland while traveling from Romania to Norway
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    Ionots has wed again after a failed marriage. This time he thinks it will work. It is rare for Roma to divorce, but when they do it is always a family decision.
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    Andrea and Rosalia resting in the car in Oslo, Norway. Romas often live in their cars while living Oslo. Gathering money to take back home to Romania to support their families
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    Raul`s grandmother is resting her feet after a long day in Drăgoeni , Romania
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    Leonard, 12-years-old has been smoking since he was ten.
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    In the small village Tetila many Roma still use horses to get around.
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    Tetila, Romania
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    Andrea just came back to Romania after begging on the streets of Oslo, Norway. Her young daughter lives with Andreas mother. Andrea would love to have more time with her daughter but has to travel to Norway to earn money to support her child.
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    A Roma family looks thrue clothes that were found in containers while living abroud in Oslo, Norway
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    Ramona and Modelin, both thirteen -years- old, are getting married after two years of preparation by their families. The whole community comes to celebrate their union in Tetila, Romania
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    Tetila, Romania. Those who go to Norway to earn money spend most of their income on basic necessities such as food, clothing and upkeep of their homes.
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    Ramona and Alexandra, two sisters from Tetila, Romania, put on makeup while getting ready, Ramona got married at 13 years old, while her 12 year old sister is to be wed in two years.
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    Many children stay with their great-grandparents while the rest of the family spends moths in Norway to earn money. Luminita says goodbye to her grandson Raul. Goodbyes are often heart breaking for all family members.
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    Wedding portrait, Dargoin, Romania
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    The Roma earn money in Norway from begging on the streets, collecting clothes to resell and collecting bottles. Some Roma also turn to pickpocketing and prostitution
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    Ionots and his mother, Luminita, have a very close relationship. Closeness, and a sense of belonging, is strong in Roma communities. Many elderly Roma say they never felt lonely their entire life.
“You can call me a gypsy if you want to”

The Roma have lived in the small villages of Tetila and Dragoin, Romania for generations. Since Romania joined the European Union in 2007, almost everyone in these villages has a family member who has traveled to Norway out of economic necessity. Due to a lack of education, poverty and unemployment in Romania, these Roma rely on money earned in Norway to support life in the villages. In Norway, many Roma beg on the streets, collect plastic bottles to recycle and sell found clothing. Some are also driven to pickpocketing and prostitution.

Life is hard on the streets of Oslo. The majority of Roma long for life back home with their families, living traditional lives as they have for generations. But that happiness only lasts until the money earned in Norway runs out. And so the cycle continues – months at home in Romania and months abroad to earn enough money to survive.

Life in Romania is vastly different from life in Oslo. Arranged marriages are the norm, and family ties are deep and extensive. From as early as age 12, boys and girls marry and are taken out of school to begin a family together. Their extended families assist in raising the children that come from these pairings. Adult life is spent in a continual volley between these close-knit villages and life on the streets of major European cities where small groups of Roma do their best to exist, often circumventing authorities. Constant movement and double lives take their toll on the travelers, as well as those left behind in Romania.

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