Jim Field, our associate director and director of community organizing, is filing reports as he teaches in Hungary and Slovakia this month.
Jim was invited to teach through “Building Grassroots Democracy in Minority Communities,” a program funded by the U.S. State Department that will also send two Hungarian interns to work with CCH in October.
We have been on the move for the past several days and very busy. We just arrived a short time ago at Civil College in Kababony, Hungary where the first two days of our training (Sept. 7-8) will take place.
This week, we visited Bodvalenke, a Roma village in northeastern Hungary that has become well known for frescos painted on the sides of homes by famous Roma artists from all over Europe. The village is home to 204 people, with one more on the way, as a baby is due any day now. Ninety percent of the villagers are Roma and in very deep poverty. We had a focus group with 20 of the Roma, mostly women, who shared their stories, their struggles and their dreams, and asked us about community organizing.
We were joined by Eszter Paszrokis, a Hungarian woman who founded the fresco project. Eszter continues to work with Roma in the village and raises the money to bring the artists to do the paintings. The village is hoping that this project will bring tourists and create jobs. Their website is www.bodvalenke.eu.
Katarzyna Pollok, a well known Roma painter, was working in the village the day we visited. Katarzyna is from Germany but spends half her time in India, where the Roma population originated. Katarzyna’s website is www.katarzynapollok.de.
Betti Sebály is our host. Betti visited the U.S. last year to study community organizing. She completed a 9-month internship with Virginia Organizing in Richmond, Virginia, as well as a 3-week internship with CCH.
Betti invited Cathy Woodson, a central Virginia organizer from Virginia Organizing, and me to lead a 4-day training for Roma leaders from all over Hungary. The first two days of the training will take place this weekend, then we will return next weekend for the final two days.