The mission of the Children’s Nutrition Fund (CNF) is to provide food and education for children who would otherwise have to go without in Central-Eastern Europe. Firstly in Hungary, and eventually within the entire region.
Fresco Village in need of the ‘House of Safe Beginnings’
The Fresco Village Project (www.bodvalenke.eu) was launched in 2009. Bódvalenke, a poor Gypsy village in the North-Eastern part of Hungary, invited well known Gypsy painters to design murals all around the village. The organizer, Eszter Pasztor wishes to fight prejudices with the power of art. She also hopes that the murals will attract tourists, thus helping the village find its way out from deep poverty.
By now Bódvalenke has become world famous with the 33 gigantic, beautiful murals. If Bódvalenke manages to attract the interest of two more well-known Roma artists, it has a good chance of becoming one of the most authentic, living catalogues of contemporary European Roma art.
The village’s façade was not the only thing to change since the project’s launch. Local Gypsy women are now prepared to cater for tourists and the 3-year development plan of the village substantiated with business plans has been drawn up as part of the “Cultural Resources for Roma Inclusion” project of the Council of Europe. The Fresco Village Social Cooperative has also been established and a biomass project started in October 2013, currently providing employment for 12 people.
Surprisingly though, the biggest success story since the beginning of the Fresco Village Project was achieved by school children. In 2009, 24 of the 27 primary school pupils of the village failed their studies and had to repeat the whole school-year. Last year, only one of the 38 primary school kids failed, and all the directors of the schools (including secondary schools) attended by Bódvalenke children reported that the Bódvalenke students’ performance surpassed by far that of children from the neighboring villages.
Nevertheless, there is group that is left out from the development and they may well be the reason for the cycle of destitution to perpetuate. The teenage girls in Bódvalenke fall pregnant one after the other. Currently there are 34 children below the age of 4 in Bódvalenke; the mothers of 28 out of these 34 children are not yet 18 years old. Some teenage girls gave birth to 2 children, one of them even to 3. These girls have dropped out of school and lack the skills to cope with raising the kids, managing the household aggravated by poverty, as they themselves are still children. In addition, starvation has the greatest impact on these young mothers and their babies.
There is, however, a solution for this problem. An NGO has developed the excellent methodology of the “Safe Beginning Children’s Houses”. These are special nurseries, attended by mothers and babies together, where the specially trained (graduate) nursery teachers teach the mothers how to look after their children, how to manage their household, and how to cook; they can also learn about gardening and managing their finances. Importantly, the house is also to be equipped with a shower/bath, thus enabling its visitors to cleanse themselves daily and to do their washing using automatic washing machines.
Even after receiving a government grant, Bódvalenke still needs about $ 22,000 to realize this dream.
CNF is eager to help raise funds for this extraordinary fresco village.