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Our People

If you were to enter our shelter, located in a cellar in downtown Budapest, you would find a crowd of people sitting and eating at the tables. You might notice the faces of people with remarkable stories, such as those listed here. Here’s an introduction to some of the people you would probably meet during a tour of the center.

For instance, here in the front you might see little Jani sitting, unshaven and shabby as usual, and explaining something at a terrible speed with words many don't bother trying to understand. As it is, no one minds him much, even though it is well-known that Jani, now in his forties, was considered unacceptable by his mother’s new boyfriend because of his mental retardation. This man kicked him out of his only home, as he had thrown out Jani's alcoholic father. Jani has survived by selling newspapers and begging on the streets for the last 25 years. However, not many people know that Jani is a frequent church-goer. Once there, he makes use of the situation by immediately rushing to the front door after Holy Communion to start begging. Jani knows that after hearing the homily people will give more generously.

A little beyond Jani is Péter, also about forty, in his usual short pants and with a strange, childish look on his face. Péter is also a bit mentally handicapped, but not so much that he doesn’t understand when people walking by on the street or sitting in cafés make fun of him, as often happens.                                             

Péter’s mother, a psychiatrist, gave up on him during adolescence. The strong-minded boy proved too difficult for her to handle alone after her divorce. His father, also an intellectual, escaped to the countryside. Péter did not know what it was like to have a place to call home. He started begging on the streets of Budapest until he could afford a small cottage in the country near his father. However, the house is almost in ruins.

Looking further to the left you see Sandor. He once was a skilled worker, but now looks neglected. He is in fifties, continuously without work and currently without the will to ever look for one. At the moment, he looks a little drunk while he shows the holes in his shoes to someone on the social staff.

On the other side of the table sits Kata, an exotic-looking woman of about sixty who once worked for renowned Hungarian newspapers. Sadly, she developed a mental illness that overwhelmed her, causing her to lose her job and housing. Now, she tries to collect as many pieces of quality clothes as she can at various charity organizations and keeps them in different plastic bags by her side so that no one can steal them from her. Despite her tough situation, each morning she will greet you with a big smile, asking you how you are!

Behind Kata we have poor Zsuzsi eating her lunch.  She is a lovely girl of about twenty-eight with red hair and of Gipsy origin.  Occasionally she makes her income with low-price prostitution in the underground metro station nearby, but she has also done this in Holland and Germany.  Now she is pregnant again and sad, because the supposed father has kicked her out, while her lesbian girlfriend has also turned away from her.

Zsuzsi now has no family or friends to lean on and does not know where to take her child. Everybody understands that this child will be taken away from her immediately after birth - just like two of her children before this pregnancy. That is, everybody but Zsuzsi understands. She is mentally impaired and thus unable to raise a child.

You may also see Béla sitting in our center today - a large physically-impaired man with long white hair. He is patiently waiting for our social workers to help him write new letters to charity organizations, asking them for money for a medical device to extend his life. The device costs more than Béla’s state income, and he is now unable to work because of his disease. He is forced to beg from these charities - his life depends on it.

Also seated in our center, you see the Kovács - a married couple in their sixties. Both of them live on state allowance as they are burdened by serious diseases. Still, motivated by their financial need, they continue to sell the homeless newspaper, “Without a Roof” on the streets to survive. This way they can pay for the unreasonably priced space that they rent - a room without heating or windows.

The forgotten people of Hungarian society are well-represent in our center. Some are mentally handicapped. Others are too sick or weak to work. Some have been released from jail, lacking direction. Others are psychologically ill. Some have been exploited or simply misfortunate. Many feel unwanted.

These people come here in hopes to find refuge from the pain. They are nameless victims of a collapsing Communist state, attempting to emerge as a Capitalist society. They are the Oliver Twists of the “Wild East” (as many call this region of the world). They are people that nobody cares about.

There are also young adults in our shelter, as young as 18. Some of them were left on the streets by orphanages that did not have the capacity to treat them or did not equip them with the skills to live an independent life. Other young people have turned to drugs to fill the void of maternal love that they never experienced. Alcoholics (of all ages) also find themselves in our shelter, lost and without a sense of purpose.

We also see many mothers at Csak Egyet. Some of the women are pregnant and without a place to stay because the shelters in town are all full. Some mothers have been separated from their children and are hopeful to visit them. The largest number is single mothers - left to feed and take care of their kids (often 3 or more) alone. These women come seeking - even begging - for help.

Take Ibolya for instance. This thirty-five year old woman and her mentally ill twelve year old daughter were left by the father. For months now, Ibolya has been unable to find a job partially due to her situation. More so, she struggles to get a job because of her Gipsy heritage. (Many employers in Hungary and neighboring countries are unwilling to employ Gipsy peoples because of an alleged bad experience).

 

The forgotten people of Hungarian society are well-represented in our center.

 



Phone:

+36 1 253 7399,
+36 1 253 7398

Address:

Budapest 1068 Király u. 98/A
Stairs from Izabella street

Készítette az: Unicial Grafikai Stúdió