Thursday, 6 August 2009

Roma Cave Dwellers near Eger

Eger is one of the formost wine producing regions in Northern Hungary. It is famous for Egri Bikaver 'Bulls Blood.' Long barrique aging makes this wine 'rich and fiery.'
The cellars in which the barrels lie during the aging process are carved into the several hundred meter thick rolite tufa found in the Eger area. This material can be formed perfectly, and it can maintain wine at the permanent temperature of 10 - 15 degrees centigrade. The moses and 'noble' mould to be found in the cellars establish a unique atmosphere that helps the mellowing of the wine and its fragrence.
Some of these caves have been abandoned by non use and subsequently occupied by homeless Roma.
Lets hope the beneficial surroundings will suit them too !

Access path to the cave

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Bodvalenke August 2009

Today, at the beginning of August 2009 and only two months into the Fresco Project (see previous post), Bodvalenke is very depressed. There is no work and hasn’t been for many years. The original Hungarian occupants have left and now there is a population of only 205, 90% are Roma, 80 of which are children. They are the poorest.
Eszter Pasztor, the frsco project originator, estimates that 40 of these children are actually starving. The reasons for this are simple. The family allowances and social security benefits are being drained at source by a very unscrupulous Roma money lender who exploits her own people with a particularly vile brand of food usuary.
This is how it works. Your children are hungry. You have no money. You go to the money lender because you have no choice. She sells you a loaf of bread at twice the shop price (the shop doesn’t give credit)! She then charges you 100% interest per month on the already inflated cost of the loaf (banks charge 15% per year!) so you can see how easy it is to build up massive amounts of debt quickly.
On top of that you are grateful to her for helping you out of a crisis. Not only is she respected but she is the clan leader! You don’t even realise how dependent on her you are until the loans are called in and the violence begins.

The 'eco' toilet

Bori's brothers meet the combine

Bori, age 14, our guide through the village

Bodvalenke - The Fresco Village

Bodvalenke is a small village on the border with Slovakia in Borsod County, Northern Hungary.
Eszter Pasztor, got the idea for the 'Fresco Village' from a trip to Egypt where she visited a village in the desert that, having similar problems of poverty and multi-deprivation, turned itself into a tourist destination by decorating all the walls of its houses with frescoes. It worked. Eszter hopes that because Bodvalenke is beautifully situated in the National Park not far from UNESCO World Heritage Site of Aggletek, tourists will find their way to the village attracted not only by the frescoes but by a range of local crafts, a restaurant and guided walks through the rare marshland with unique flora like wild Fritilliary. All this and a system of micro – loans and a new wood-free (solar storage) eco-heating system for the village, piloted by a German/Hungarian company, will improve the local economy and create jobs. For more info about this wonderful project go to -

Kata, Editor of 'Amaro Drom' getting the 'official' story from the Mayor's office!

The second fresco is based on an old Gypsy legend

Janos Horvarth, Roma painter from Miskolc working unpaid at present

Janos shows Kata the best vantage point to view the second fresco

The enchanting landscape of the marsh

Angelika Biro, Roma photographer,taking pictures for 'Amaro Drom'

Hot Dog!

Janos working with one of the village children who are helping him to paint the frescoes

The wall is prepared for the fresco at a cost of 150,00 HuF(£450) which also renovates the property. All house owners enter into a contract to protect and preserve the painting.

The first fresco in the centre of the village

Esther,left, encouraging the basket weavers

This woman pickles more than cucumbers!

Wood collecting on this scale damages the environment - the proposed eco heating system will relieve this pressure.

Traditional Hungarian needlework could also find a market in the craft centre - direct from the maker!

View over the bog from the future craft centre. Some of the houses in the marshy swamp will be relocated.

The beginnings of the third fresco - horses,a stork and a goat will welcome visitors at the southern end of the village.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Petofi Telep, Sajokaza

Petofi is an Olah settlement on the outskirts of Sajokaza. Here live 200 people from six or eight family clans, with no sanitation and one water pump on the main access road.
The Olah have strong connections with animals, horses in particular and growing, unlike their Romungro counterparts.
The women are continually washing clothes and brushing the earthen floors outside their habitations, cooking and child-minding while the men look after the livestock.
Cooking takes place outdoors using the wood gathered daily.
Some of the young women have been to school and their parents are insisting on higher education - not early marriage!!! Viktoria, one of the young women had just graduated as a nursery nurse and is looking forward to her new job at the also new Ambedkar Gymnasium creche.
They were extremely welcoming and happy that we visited them.

Horses feeding on cut meadow grass

Hay stack

Access road - Gabor coming to see what's happnin'

Kavics family group

Pig food

Kavics feeding his horses

Rabbit food !

Cleaning and recycling bricks

Lakatos Sandor and Wilmos the horse

Renata in her garden

Every day is washing day in this telep!

Feri hugging his mother

Zolti - holding up the house while Ana cooks

Robert (extreme right) a Romanes speaker and his family

Edi Neni outside her house

Edi Neni in the kitchen

Peter, her son