The Real Pearl’s Strategy For Creating Opportunities
To develop social competencies through a unique three-focus framework
The Foundation’s Primary Art School operates in 6 places and receives children from 23 communities. There are approximately 600 students annually, 70% of them from disadvantaged families, of whom some 300 are Roma children living in extreme poverty.
Our most talented students receive aid through our scholarship program. We are really proud of this program, which started in September 2011, and with it we can support more than 60 children/year. In the academic year of 2016/17 we developed our scholarship program, and we introduced a new scholarship program called the Dragan-scholarship, to broaden the range of recipients. With our scholarship programs we would like to send a message that learning is valuable.
After-school activities: online learning, drama games, board game pedagogy, speech and debate classes
We operate the Tanoda (after school activities) at Told, from Monday through Saturday, with 35-50 people. The age group varies; we have adult education programs as well as children’s programs, which strengthen basic skills, and work against digital illiteracy.
We organize camps during school breaks which are organized approximately 3 times a year, and thanks to our supporters we can organize trips to visit art exhibitions, theaters, or other events. When possible, we organize field trips too.
Community Development And Job Creation
There are several opportunities and points to intervene during a crisis. When necessary we organize clothes, shoes, furniture, briquette and timber distribution on a monthly basis. We run a child-medication and eyeglasses program also but we try to help whenever someone needs a washing machine, centrifuge, refrigerator or other essential appliances. We work with the local community to outline the collective rules of donation, which is very clear regarding the fact that the goods are not free. When someone needs help and accepts the goods, he or she is encouraged to work in one of the several community building projects established by our Foundation. We choose where there is the most need and they are placed in that project for a short amount of time.
Of course there are unexpected turns and tragedies when someone may be in need our help. We have a program called “Standing with you” which is a permanent program where we solve the urgent needs of a family with the help of donations by individuals and companies. Moreover we are helping to simplify administrative procedures, to fill out forms if it’s needed, to help with online administration or procedures via phone. We cooperate with the institutional level too.
Self-sufficiency Skills Development
The basic element of our strategy is the idea to encourage the community to become self-sustainable. We support the people in the community to organize their lives, get back the choice over their destiny, and realize the possibilities which are available for everyone but the usage of such possibilities may not be as evident and available for everyone as they should be.
For example we have the briquette program which is a unique way for us to help the community to support the ones within the community who are coming from more underprivileged circumstances, so they can get great quality briquette to use during the hard winter periods, and it helps in the region to give high quality fuels for decent price. Moreover it would eliminate the pollution which comes from burning plastics, papers or steal timber to create heat.
In addition to programs in accordance with housing conditions, general repairs reperations, and our goal to achieve electricity in every house, we also have programs to educate women regarding safe sex practices and overall reproductive health. We organize another program called Baby- Mother Club, where mothers bring their young children and can spend time with other mothers, and we have several courses regarding household activities and cooking.
Community And Identity Development
We organize our programs on a weekly basis and we support them by ourselves with the support of individuals. We created a community of women in Told which organizes its own program called Morzsóka-club. This follows some traditions from the past when the women gathered and did some household activities together. The activity is cooking and they choose a topic which is very common during their everyday lives. This program achieved a strong, integrated community which will be able to organize their life without the help of our foundation.
This element of our Opportunity Creating Strategy became remarkably strong in the past few years. Currently we have 7 full-time employees which will swell to ten in the near future and more than 30 part-time emplyees from around the area.
We have a social enterprise in the field of agriculture where we grow vegetables and herbs on nearly 1 hectare. From the vegetables and fruits we grow we make handcrafted, high-quality jams and juices. We call the brand Amari which means “Ours” in Romani. These products are sold through our webshop and in the Kabinet Gallery in Budapest. The Amari products can be bought in our central office in Berettyóújfalu as well.
We are very proud of Szuno (Romani for “Dream”), a program that was started as a dream. We wanted to give work for every member of each family and to inspire them. We chose the drawings of one of the Real Pearl’s students and these artworks are the main inspiration for our products. Eventually, our dream became a reality and the Szuno started its journey to become a social enterprise.
We think that it is crucial to support the local cooperations. The problems of the families coming from underprivileged circumstances are complex and to achieve real change we need to work together.
We have experienced it several times that at the institutional level there are no means to handle the situation, and the officers can burn out easily who are responsible of the area. Civil society has different tools and opportunities. We are able to reach out for the community and we are able to build with them. We mediate between the mostly Roma families and institutions.