If this small icon of St. George is familiar to you, it is not a coincidence. Similar ones have been produced by Romanian families in the Transylvanian Plain since the early 19th century, and the Hungarian intellectuals visiting Transylvania preferred to bring/smuggle home the naive pictures painted on glass. As I look at the little horse with a gentle smile, stepping forward from the frame with a slightly raised hoof above the dragon, I can understand it.
This icon, however, did not come from Transylvania, but from this side of the Romanian border. And its makers are Hungarians and Gypsies.
Nóra L. Ritók and the Genuine Pearl Foundation and art school in Berettyóújfalu have a growing awareness in Hungary, mainly due to the blog written by her. Nóra originally planned to start a basic art training for the socially disadvantaged children living in this little town and in the surrounding small settlements.
The school has by now achieved a great number of professional successes, and the children have done well in international competitions. More important than the prizes, however, are the good impressions they have in the school. The experience of creation grants them a real sense of achievement, an improved self-esteem, a strengthened self-image, and this is also felt in their other results. If there is a route out of poverty, then this is that.
It soon turned out, however, that any result can be achieved only through a social work closely related to education, as well as through a complex assistance which re-establishes cooperation between people who has long forgotten how to cooperate.
It is essential that all those involved in this process, both the kids, the parents and the authorities see the meaning of the efforts, and believe in it. The rebuilding of this faith and joint thinking is the most difficult task, which, however, cannot be spared, or substituted with campaign-like donations.
This is why the Genuine Pearl Foundation has launched, among other projects of assistance, the Szuno, which offers work for the women living in this region struggling with an extremely high unemployment, a work which they can carry out on the site and also with a low education.
This project, based on the collaboration of generations, offers work for the adults on the basis of the paintings and designs created by the children in the school. The selected children’s drawings are converted into embroideries by the adults, and these are used in the products sewn by them.
There were already instances that we asked for help here in Río Wang, for the flood victims of the Transylvanian Szék (here, here and here). The then generous helpfulness of our readers now encourages us to a further request. Still in the advent period look around in the Szuno webshop, and if you can afford, buy there. And if you like what you see there, monitor the evolution of the project, check back regularly to the shop or to Nóra’s blog, because this issue has implications which are vital to us all. Is it possible to produce a chance from almost nothing, only through gradual work, for those who, due to their geographical, social and employment position are in the most difficult situation, and to adapt the good practices in different places? Not only the fate of a few settlements in difficult situation, but that of all of us depends on this.
Be silent partners in this work, which is more important than anything else happening today in Hungary.