Good Practices and Project Stories
In the framework of the EEA NGO Programme numerous innovative practices countering hate have been realized in Hungary. Here we present some examples – practices and tools – which can be useful in preventing or reacting to hate speech and hate crime in different communities, fields and contexts. The summaries of the different practices are collected and organized according to the approaches they used.
Get to Know it! Feel it! Discuss it!
photo: Uccu Foundation
We would surely hate one another less and would be better at handling our prejudices and reflecting on our stereotypes if we had the chance to get to know the situation and challenges of the groups that become targets. However, beside objective information, personal encounters and stories are also of great importance. Everyone has questions, presuppositions, and some experience with members of different social groups. If we get the chance to discuss these with honesty and without taboos with those in question, if we can personally get to know members of groups that we otherwise only have superficial knowledge about, it becomes easier for us to understand and get closer to the other.
It’s always easier to hate the members of one group or another, than to see through the complicated systems of society, politics and the economy. Scapegoats can always be found, but it’s not worth it. No society has ever evolved through attacking the weak and vulnerable. In order to see clearly, it’s important to have access to as many facts and data as possible, and to be able to point out the real obstacles and correlations through interpreting and analysing them.
Let your voice be heard! Show a new perspective!
photo: Blue Line Foundation
As a Hungarian saying goes, not even the mother of a mute child understands what the child is trying to say. Then how could strangers understand us if we don’t convey our message to them? Most of us receive information about minorities from the majority and through mass media, so the perspectives of those in question often remain invisible to us. This is precisely why it’s so important for as many groups as possible to have access to the right preparation and tools, so that as many people can learn about their stories, perspectives, difficulties, sources of joy and goals as possible. Members of vulnerable groups have had the chance to learn the basics of photography, film making, or radio through numerous initiatives. Among others, Roma youth, inmates and the representatives of women’s organisations have had the chance to create their own materials.
Create your life!
photo: Retextil Foundation
Creation can be learning, work, therapy and entertainment all at the same time. Through drawing, making a photo, dancing, making music or film, writing a story, acting in a play or crafting an artefact people can, on the one hand, forget the difficulties they keep worrying about day after day, and on the other hand, they can express the feelings and thoughts that are defining for them from a new perspective. Self-expression is therapeutic - whatever we are able to formulate through the tools of art we will be more able to realise on the level of words and actions as well. Through creative processes, learning often happens automatically and in a playful way, without the sense of any pressure. Also, creating a piece of art gives people a sense of success and empowerment. If the creative process takes place in a group, connections and cooperation may deepen as well, which facilitates the development of the social skills of participants.
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Do something together for our common environment!
photo: Magosfa Foundation
The protection of the environment is the shared interest of all social groups – no matter how great the tension may be between them. Applying environment-friendly methods, recycling and the conservation of our environment is a cause for all of us, which may bring otherwise isolated groups closer to one another. For example, children and pensioners may make close connections through sharing their knowledge and methods with one another, while learning new things at the same time.
Show that you can also be useful!
photo: Hungarian Williams Syndrome Association
The discourse of hatred often calls certain social groups useless. It can only be partially refuted through listing the difficulties a given group is facing. It’s a lot more effective and convincing to demonstrate that everyone is indeed capable of creating value and doing something that is useful for others as well. Each individual and group has different strengths. But if we map these strengths appropriately, and provide an opportunity for developing these skills and creating services and products related to them, we are able to provide actual results to prove the fact that there are no groups whose members are unable to create value for others.
Stand up for yourself and others!
Successful encounters, getting to know and understanding one another’s situation, finding common points, demonstrating equally valid points of view and messages, telling personal stories and listing objective facts, and numerous other tools are not sufficient against hatred. When a partnership-oriented approach, communication, and the demonstration of values are not enough, it’s important to face the conflicts and stand up for the interests and rights violated, which can only be protected by us, citizens.
Giving space to Hungarian civil society
photo: The Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre
Budapest has suffered more than many other European capitals because of the financial crisis and the difficult transition to a new economic system after the fall of communism: According to some estimates, 25 % of all office spaces are empty, and there are large numbers of abandoned houses and empty commercial properties. At the same time, there are many civil society actors, such as NGOs, social enterprises, community and cultural groups in need of affordable spaces for their activities. The Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre it its project was aiming to make use of these empty spaces and vacant properties with the goal of contributing to a more stable and sustainable civil society and a more transparent property market.
Improving labour market access for women
photo: Christophe Vander Eecken
After almost a year of preparatory works, the so-called Balaton Nora Point project, supported Iceland Liechtenstein and Norway has finally been launched in Balatonalmadi, a town by the Lake Balaton. The project, implemented by two local NGOs, the Large Families’ Association of Balatonalmadi and the Start-Balaton Social Cooperation, aims to improve the labour market situation of vulnerable groups, including women and especially young mothers wishing to return to the labour market. These groups face significant challenges, due to widespread discrimination as well as lack of a supportive institutional and legal framework. Therefore there is a significant gap between the employment rate of women and men.
Internship in Norway gave new ideas for psychiatric care in Hungary
Zsofia Hetesi from Hungary works normally as a social worker at the TÁMASZ Foundation Pécs. The foundation is responsible for the provision of homeless people in Pécs. Here, she saw that there was an increasing number of homeless persons with mental health problems who also did not have the right access to the health care services in Hungary. She therefore started planning a project in which the main aim was to create psychiatric services for homeless patients and to motivate the development and extension of welfare and social services for psychiatric patients. To get new inspiration and knowledge she felt that it would be beneficial to get to know better a prominent psychiatric institution and to learn more about their methods. With funding from the EEA Grants Zsofia was able to apply for a 4-month long traineeship in Norway.
Giving Hungarian Women a voice
photo: The Hungarian Women's Lobby
Hungary has made progress in improving gender equality in recent years; nevertheless, inequalities persist. Eurostat figures show that Hungarian women have a lower level of participation in the labour market, educational attainment; and, their presence on company boards and in politics is lower than the European average. The gender pay gap is also wider than the European average. The Hungarian Women’s Lobby (HWL) is a nation-wide umbrella organisation with 23 member organisations. Through this project a range of measures were supported, including: media training for NGOs and professional women’s organisations, changes in curricula, studies and training to sensitise the Hungarian media to these issues.
Bringing back the smiles
photo: Smile Foundation
Every year, hundreds of Hungarian children are diagnosed with chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes or stress disorders. Treatment can be long and painful, often requiring prolonged periods of hospitalisation, which puts great strain on the children and their families alike. Parents sometimes have to travel long distances to spend time with their children – difficult in the best of circumstances but even more so for those families from deprived social backgrounds. To ease the burden for the children and their families going through hard times, the Smile Foundation, a Hungarian NGO, offered free-of-charge art and story-telling therapy for children suffering from chronic diseases.
Bringing joy to vulnerable children
photo: Blue Star Association
Disadvantaged children in Hungary with handicaps, special educational needs, and learning- and behavioural problems (like for example autism) do often suffer from the lack of activities in nurseries and schools. Blue Star – a Hungarian NGO using dog therapy (also known as canis therapy) for children with disabilities offered therapy sessions to them that have led to visible improvements on the children.
The contents of this column may be broaden in the future.
The views expressed among good practices do not necessarily reflect those of the donor countries of the EEA Grants.