Introducing ‘The Proud Roma Movements’

by Emil Metodiev

My latest project The Proud Roma Movements is an initiative that aims to present Roma movements across Europe through short personal stories of their core team members. The photo series will feature members of several Roma-led national organizations that are part of the Proud Roma, Free Europe transnational network, and reveal the movements’ main ambitions as well as challenges in their fight for the prosperity of Roma.

As part of the Transnational Support Team within the Open Society Roma Initiatives Office (RIO)’s fellowship program, I have had the opportunity to be involved in the development of several emerging Roma movements across Europe and the Balkans. Being present from the beginning and seeing each team’s uniqueness – their actions, methods and systematic approach towards engaging Roma communities in their country – has inspired me to showcase their work to a worldwide audience. I believe their efforts, successes and struggles in pursuit of a just and better life for Roma can inspire others to join them and find their own purpose in advancing our Roma communities.

Undoubtedly, a new era for Roma communities is approaching; Roma movements across Europe are working together to establish a strong European political nation, increase the political representation of Roma and ensure the good governance practices of elected officials.

Through a series of interviews and portraits, I aim to offer a snapshot of the European Roma movements today, and encourage others to join.

The Proud Roma Movements is a collaboration between the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture – ERIAC and its member Emil Metodiev who was granted the NewsSpectrum fellowship from the International Press Institute (IPI) based in Vienna.

About the author

Emil Metodiev is from Bulgaria and has been working for the Roma cause since 2003 when he first began his Leadership & Management training. In 2004 he joined one of the largest pro-Roma national organizations. In 2007, together with some fellows from the Leadership & Management training course, he established the Pro-European Network dealing with human rights, gender equality and intercultural dialogue. Meanwhile, he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

For the last seven years, Emil has been passionate about photography. As an avid salsa dancer, he was inspired to take pictures of talented dancers and capture their poses and individuality on stage. He pursued photography as a second degree and soon realized he can do much more by engaging with photography from a social aspect. Three years ago, he started his own project related to identity and diversity – a photo series focusing on but not limited to Roma. The project is called the ‘Inner Me’ and portrays multiple layers of one’s identity.

Through managing a website dedicated to dance in Bulgaria, Emil has also gained experience in writing, interviewing, design and video editing. He has transferred that knowledge to strengthen the Bulgarian Roma movement Roma Standing Conference where he is currently a digital marketing specialist.

The portraits of The Proud Roma Movements series will be published weekly throughout January and February 2022. Stay tuned!