‘Dignity for Everybody’ (Ottilia Solt)
The SZETA Eger Foundation (SZETA Egri Alapítványa) - Fund for Supporting the Poor - has been fighting poverty, social exclusion and inequalities since 1989. We work together with local, especially Roma communities living in poverty in order to find a way out of heritable disadvantages and complex social exclusion. We try to organise, activate and develop these communities.
The Fund for Supporting the Poor (SZETA) was established in Budapest in 1979 during the communist era. It was an illegal, statewide organisation, rather a movement that was not tolerated by the state. According to the regime, at that time poverty and social inequalities officially did not exist. In spite of the state’s attitude towards such issues, SZETA’s sociologists, researchers and artists started to draw society’s attention to deep poverty and social exclusion.
Our civil organisation in Eger, the Fund for Supporting the Poor (SZETA Egri Alapítványa) was created ten years later, in 1989. The first public event of the local foundation was the ‘a weekend against poverty’ in Eger in November, 1989. We declared our initial mission: ‘the SZETA Eger Foundation intends to aid the poor living in Eger with cash and in-kind support as well as with institutional placement.’
The goals determined in 1989 have widened, and become more complex as poverty and social exclusion have not been eliminated in the last 25 years. Moreover social inequalities and disadvantages, especially among Roma and rural population have been increasing ever since. During our intensive participation in the social and community work, we experience precarious living conditions and severe material deprivation on a daily basis and have found that social problems and inequalities have deepened. We mainly work with Roma communities living in disadvantaged rural settlements, experiencing social exclusion and poverty. We operate in Eger (population of 58 000) and in some villages (population of 300-1500) in Northern Hungary as well.
Our mission is to work together with the communities, to involve them in a long term development process in order to decrease their poverty and social exclusion. Several representatives of the local Roma communities are members of our staff. However we focus on children and especially their school assessment.
Our new community place in Eger was established in 2013. It was funded by EU project resources as we had won a tender. The renovated house close to the segregated Roma ghetto functions not only as the seat of the organisation, but also as premises for everyday programmes and services aiming at children and their parents. It is basically an open settlement-house with several functions and everyday activities and programmes, and it serves as a meeting point as well.
Main activities, projects, and programmes
In 2013 we established our ‘Scholarship programme’ for Roma and non Roma children, pupils, especially those who live in segregated Roma ghettos, such as Béke-telep. It was being funded by the Swiss-Hungarian NGO Grant and Scholarship Fund between 2013 and 2015. The project involved 60 children and young people and we were able to provide them with several services and programmes within the frame of the project. During the three-year project most of the participants started learning in secondary schools, graduated from secondary schools or managed to acquire professions. Currently we do not have project resources but we are maintaining the scholarship programme. The ‘scholarship programme’ is recognized at national level, and we believe the project is substantial as it is extremely important to invest into children in order to provide them with better futures, more successful lives and it is also in the best interest of our society as a whole. The development process is ongoing, but the conditions could be better. We continuously have to seek resources, donations and we need to find effective ways of raising funds in order to maintain and improve the ‘scholarship programme’.
SZETA Foundation has been working in the segregated ghetto in Eger since the middle of the 1990s. We established a settlement house close to the segregated area, Béke-telep, in 1998. We implemented our ‘Ragamuffin project’ funded by Soros Foundation. We started to activate the Roma community and in 2005 we managed the establishment of their civil organisation. The main goal of the association was to represent their interests during the settlement’s rehabilitation. As a result of our work their organisation was able to initiate and participate in the conciliation process. With our background assistance the strengthened association became a ‘partner’ of the local government in Eger in conciliation procedures. Infrastructural rehabilitation of the Béke-telep was implemented between 2006 and 2008 from EU resources. Nowadays we are working intensely with the community of Béke-telep in order to implement further development tasks.
We have been organising summer camps for Roma and non Roma children and youngsters annually since 1990. They are in our focus. We are trying to improve their school assessment with several methods, and we monitor their lives in kindergartens and schools. We aim to improve their achievements and future opportunities in terms of education and employment, and to decrease their socio-economic disadvantages. We keep in touch with their parents as well.
SZETA Eger Foundation implemented a number of projects funded by EU and Norway – EEA Grants between 2011 and 2016. The projects were aimed at the development of communities in disadvantaged small villages in three micro-regions in Northern Hungary. We used different community methods and tools in order to activate people living in poverty and experiencing social exclusion. We started improving their communities involving them in the development process with trainings, employment facilities, different programmes and services. We contributed to the establishment of their formal civic organisation in order to be able to represent their interests at local level and to generate income and learn about other resources. We established community places, settlement houses in more than ten villages. The settlement houses became meeting points of not only the excluded communities but also the whole village. These community places serve as centres for local associations, programmes and services provided for people experiencing poverty and social exclusion.
We implemented projects eliminating segregated Roma settlements in three disadvantaged villages in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén and Heves counties between 2007 and 2011. The interventions were funded by the state. During the projects we focused not only on the housing integration of Roma communities but also on the development of their informal and formal community life. We tried to strengthen and activate these communities. We helped create their formal civic organisations and established their community places in order to provide the conditions for their long term operation. We intend to share resources, information and knowledge with them.
We established our first ‘Donation point’ in Eger in 1989. It works as a charity shop where we sell and forward in-kind donations (clothes, books, furniture, toys) offered by individuals in order to make money for people living in poverty and deprivation. The money contributes to maintaining our core activities, especially our ‘scholarship programme’ as well. We recently established two more donation points, one in the small town of Heves and another one in a village called Egerbakta.
If you agree with our goals and activities, please donate to us!
You can purchase handicraft products of the communities working with us.
If you need more information in English about our Foundation and what we do, do not hesitate to contact us via e-mail: email@example.com