Introduction / History "Romani" is a term used to describe this large, ethno-linguistic group; however, in their homeland of India they were originally called Dom, meaning man. Later, Dom developed into Rom. Today, the preferred term is Romani (plural "Romanies") in Europe; but in the Middle East and North Africa, many still refer to themselves as 'Dom' or 'Domi'.
Where are they located? Originally coming from India, the Romani are now scattered throughout the world. This is largely due to the closed communities they maintain. There are many fascinating folk tales about their origins that are still passed down from generation to generation.
What are their lives like? Their lifestyles vary widely. There are those who maintain a peripatetic (nomadic) lifestyle. They offer their services as entertainers, musicians, or metal workers to other nomadic groups. Also included in the nomadic lifestyle are those Dom who are migrant workers.
Romani in Sudja live in close proximity to each other. The housing conditions range from primitive to average compared to other Russians.
It's typical to see extended families living together. Because of the close living conditions, it may be that these conditions would be quite favorable to the development of home / cell churches based on the model of self-replicating home churches used in China and India.
What are their beliefs? Beliefs among the Romani in Sudja are similar to those found throughout Russia. Most of these Romani are non-believers and do not adhere to any established major religion. Many others have some forms of animism and shamanism. Some Romani are Muslim.
What are their needs? In almost all of the countries they live in, their rudimentary command of the local language and limited use of written documents have contributed to their political powerlessness. Some who have settled are in transition, as they seek to become a part of the social systems around them. In an effort to fit in, they may abandon the traditional clothing, tattooing, dancing and fortune telling that are part of the Romani lifestyle. They may even deny their ethnic identity.
Life for this Romani group is very difficult. The Russian government will not issue Romani passports, so they essentially are unable to leave the country in a legally permissible manner. They view themselves essentially as refugees. Discrimination is rampant. It is very difficult for any Romani to find employment. The crime rate among these Romani is very high. Male leadership is frequently missing, for various reasons (e.g., many are in prison). Grandmothers appear to play a prominent role in family leadership. There is evidence of at least some malnutrition, as children are underweight and/or shorter than their average counterparts in western nations. Illness comes frequently to these Romani, and often last longer than it would in other more developed areas.
Regardless of their efforts to assimilate into the mainstream society, Romani rarely have official status or citizenship in their country of residence. Due to their poverty, they are often unable to pay hospital fees when children are born. In this case, no birth certificate is issued, so the possibility of securing citizenship is forfeited. The concept of owning land is not inherent to the nomadic Romani worldview, and they find it difficult to adjust to such an outlook. Few families own the plots of land on which they locate their settlements or camps. Therefore, they are often subjected to forced relocation.
Prayer Points * Pray for churches to be planted among them.
* Pray that new believers will be discipled.
* Pray for improvement in their nutrition, medical care and education
* Pray for entrepreneurs who will cater to the Romani ethnic community.