The Foundation’s activity in the fields of education and creating opportunities is characterized by child-centeredness and humaneness.
The level of people’s awareness of these things is best shown by the blog posts.
In order to understand things you need to observe them from close. Only stereotypes and generalizations are visible from afar. Looking at things from close you can discern many truths. But you can close up only in small steps. It takes time. That is the only way it can work.
Turning towards the others with love …
We need to learn how to think together, to give and receive and for both sides to do something, for the reasons and the purposes and most importantly: for the children.
We have to look further ahead. We have spent too much time looking back, and we did not even draw the right conclusions. Maybe it is still not too late.
So, there is hope: self-possession, trust and hope, which gradually turn into an intention to act
What was necessary for that? First of all, it was necessary to try to understand it all. I am still trying. Furthermore, permanent presence was also necessary, and an intention to help, patience, confirmation of what is good, acceptance and attention, and of course, the sponsors, the ones who give everything we can help with. This is how we can help a group in the society that can no longer change its life on their own. Where legal obligation does not help anymore. Where poverty only breeds more poverty. Where everyday life, including children’s life, is not based on the good rules. This is why we must continnue.for the children. We cannot let any more generations grow up like this.
Maybe it is still not too late. Maybe. But we are surely in the last minute.
Link to our project summarizing publication Szociális iskola kiadvány
This is why it matters
Author: Nóra L. Ritók
Lots of people who are commenting here question the fact that we are doing something worthwhile. They only percept a simplified version: that is we are doing everything instead of them, while they are sitting at home, asking and waiting. Also, if I write about how difficult the whole situation is, they are going to justify their ideas that I waste time, money and energy on meaningless and unnecessary things.
Surely the aim of this blog is not to present the activities of the Igazgyöngy Alapítvány (~ Pearl Foundation), but to present the enormous problem of extreme poverty, which can only be simplified by those who live far away from all that, and who are not willing to give up their stereotypes. They keep saying that it is not possible, it is impossible, there are no results, this is not the way to do it, etc… and going on and on, justifying themselves and each other until their solutions are moderated from the comments.
Well, I am trying to make a list of what we call ‘problem-map’, where we have already managed to form an intervention point, and where we already have results. I am not doing this to persuade those who might still wonder, they won’t be persuaded anyways. My main reason is that it is high time to summarize which intervention was triggered by which problem, and how we are trying to build everything up on a strategy.
It is a basic rule that co-operation with us in the segregated villages is not a must, but we can only offer help for those who are willing to help to make the village a better place to live in. The rules are always set in agreement with the local community.
Our model has three basic elements.
The first one is education. That is the most important, as we can hope that the children will be able to get out of this vicious circle. Our foundation has a basic level art school, whose methodology is often asked for and used here in Hungary, in transborder Hungarian schools, and there is a rising international interest as well. (Our students get more than five hundred rewards yearly from national and international children’s drawing competitions). These artistic activities form the basis of the development of the children, and we add as many things as we can. We have workshops, extra lessons for those behind, boardgame-pedagogy, online learning support, skype lessons, and of course we get school equipment, money for school activities (school photo and presents), excursions, camps, free time activities, self-knowledge programs. We offer our help in co-operation with a psychologist and a special educator. Our scholarship program has a positive impact on the multiply disadvantaged children, hindering that misery takes control over those who are willing and talented. All these, and of course the support from the family and the community leads the children slowly but with detectable results towards integration and a better future. The children do not fail as often as before, we are able to solve more problems right at the very beginning. The marks are getting better, fewer students drop out. At our school kids are working like a dream, and we are trying to expand this effect on their primary schools as well. Our main difficulty is that primary school teachers often try working with different views, sometimes more against than with us.
The second element is the most extensive. This is the area of family care and community development. I believe that this blog would not be enough to present what we do, so I am only going to give a list about most of our activities.
Preventing crisis situations: getting medicine for the children (as an effect fewer kids end up in hospital), giving away food (less criminal actions), donating second-hand clothes, shoes, furniture, toys (better life standard), program for reconnecting electric meters (card operated electric meters), developing housing (not for them, with them!), administrative things, trying to get access to medical treatment (if the system is unable to help), help with funerals, births, or unforeseen events. We also help with conscious family planning, handing out contraceptive pills. We do not help in connection with criminal cases and punishment (on the contrary, in case of any of these, we suspend our co-operation and help).
This element includes improving self-preservation, garden-program, own and community gardens, making bio-briquette, and a now launched pigpen building. (More and more families are joining in). We help with guardianship issues if there is no other solution. We are fighting against high interest rates, shopping on credit, being treated like slaves. And against everything that wants to make ends meet with the help of crime, such as prostitution and theft. (Compared to the very beginning, this has been reduced significantly.)
We are trying to give as much knowledge as possible. (Some settlements do not have a chance, or they cannot get access in the given social category.) We have courses to strengthen the basic skills, for example to eliminate illiteracy, or to reach secondary school level. We help private students. We teach basic information technology, so that they can use the internet where we provide it. We have cooking and housekeeping lessons, baby-mother clubs, so that the young mothers can improve together with their babies. At the community gatherings we talk about everything, from civics to family planning, from communication to hygiene, music, dancing, fishing, loving animals, valuing nature, we try to show them our place in the greater world. We get a lot of guests, volunteers, who with their knowledge and presence help to experience integration in a positive atmosphere. We take adults for excursions. To places they have never been to, such as zoo or museum. We have a tea house where you can have discussions, a little library with books and magazines, family photographing sessions; we are trying to give as much community experience as possible. As a result, the atmosphere in the village is much better, there are less aggressive scenes, and apart from some family fights, there are less cases that require the police intervention. At our happenings, where there are 20-70 people present, there are gypsies and not gypsies together. Slowly but surely we get to everybody. Hatred is being demolished, and community is being built.
This element also includes the will to establish workplaces. Our handicraft project called ‘Szuno’ gives work for women, and the carpentry at ‘Gyöngyház’ for men. At the community garden we plan to grow herbs in the summer, and soon we are going to buy a second-hand tractor as well. We have two local colleagues at the moment. For most of them, this is their first workplace. We take good care of forming them into a team, they have to keep a diary, and we sit together weekly to evaluate their work and to discuss the question of proceeding. We are constantly in touch, trying to make them understand notions like responsibility, how to act uniformly, co-operation, inner and outer communication. And the education is two-sided. As us, not being gypsies and not living segregated, we cannot know what they do. And only this common knowledge can lead us to the next step.
And there is the third element. Because it is a bit absurd that such a big gap should be filled in by a non-governmental organisation, although a governmental system exists. Our work helps them too, but co-operation is not working nowadays. We have been struggling a lot about that, to help each other mutually. We understand what is understandable, that there is not enough money, time, that administration takes the place of solving problems, that nothing is easy in this malfunctioning system. What we do not tolerate as much is human fallibility, racism, masterfulness and the lack of empathy. Today our contacts reach all institutions; there is a different degree of co-operation with nursery schools, schools, family-support services, guardianship offices, medical network, police, mayor’s office, work centres, non-governmental organisations and churches.
Well… I knew it would be long if I wanted to enlist what we actually do. And I still have not mentioned everything.
I am definitely sure that this is the only way. Only if we see all this as a whole, both in time and space, and we are working on it. We are forming it into a functioning community, and into families and institutions that are able to live up to their potential and to co-operate with each other. Where it does not really matter if somebody is gypsy or not.
The problem became huge. We have left it way too long without interfering. Then we tried to rush it via governments, here and there, and, sometimes nowhere.
Our foundation is currently working in 13 villages with more elements, and as a whole we develop our model. The model, which is doubtlessly successful. The most important thing for us is that even the locals feel the same way about it.