Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Let's Go to Prison!

Szia, I am Kami; ignore the name(s) the blog has given me.  Its a long story.

I too am studying business at our esteemed Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech and enjoy long walks in the rain, people smiling, and my bribes to be in cash.... jk, Dori :D.... but seriously....

Tuesday 10:54 am
Our group visited  one of Budapest's finest jails,  Fegyház és Börtön  for a little more perspective on the Hungarian system of justice.  Even though not technically classified as a social enterprise, the jail visit delved into some of the questions we are primarily addressing by studying this subject area.  How does one provide maximum social good while being efficient?  What about sustainability?  How do logistics operate in an organization where the mission in not necessarily the main operation?  Who are really the stakeholders in this situation?

All very important questions. 

Besides this, our tour guide/ translator, Willy Benkő,  volunteers his time at the jail.  He teaches inmates who are to be released in less than one year public speaking skills.  First involved with Toastmasters in the states, Will's passion is public speaking, and he truly believes it is an invaluable skill in this day and age that can be easily attained through direction and practice.  Self-confidence is what rehabilated men really need to be good and do in the world, and Bill strongly holds that teaching this skills can help provide that. 
Today the jail holds about 1,500 inmates with 600 workers to run the place.  After a thorough security check, we were lead into the cell block to have a look at the inmate's quarters (which come in smoking and non-smoking for future reference and can sleep 2-8 depending on how cozy one wants to get).  With inmates in their very stylish grey on grey attire doing work in the garden, we learned about the 3 tier system of classification and that everyone gets to go outside a minimum of an hour a day.   Oh, and we also learned of the rubber room where inmates with anger issues can take their frustration out.  Or try to set it on fire as one, naked, man allegedly did. 
After this, we stopped for lunch right off of Moritz Square on the Buda side where we were regaled with tales of how one can roast large sections of bacon fat over a bon fire and make a delicious topping for bread that way.   My personal agenda for next week involves asking our landlord of any inhibitions he might have about a group bon fire in the open space beside our apartments.

Wednesday 9:35am
Tamás Szcsaurszki came to speak to our group about the current state of the non-profit sector in Hungary.   We also learned a great deal about a government that we are not sure how specifically they got into office because we cannot find anyone who actually supports them.  These days the non-profit sector in Hungary is having great difficulty.  Between a decrease in income and increase in obstacles thanks to the current government's policies, social benefit organizations are struggling here.   Plus it is hard to work with a government that is so bias that once the state-run media had to apologize for having 'technical difficulties' that resulted in them not being able to find about 50,000 protestors right next to where they were filming something about the Prime Minister.   Probably, their technician was just off getting some polinka or something. 

Thursday 10:15 am

Our group met with the Carpathian Foundation located in Eger.  Operating in Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, and the Ukraine- but only certain regions of each- the cross-border, regional foundation founded in 1995 acts as a 're-granter' of funds received from such places as the Norwegian Fund back to local non-profits.  While also providing financial and technical assistance to local organizations, the Carpathian Foundation itself runs Roma training programs and scholarship programs.  Operating in a region of growing disparity and large minority populations, their aim is to improve the quality of life in that area through fostering local initiatives.  Three of which we were fortunate enough to see, as we set out on a toasty June day:

·         Kaptarko Conservation and Cultural Nature Protectional and Cultural Association

> Works to protect unique 'beehive stones' made from volcanic rock (probably once upon a time
     used for pagan sacrifices.... yummy)
> Has become recognized for great strides in eco-tourism by building hiking trails around the
> Has achieved legal state protection for the stones
> Has a great amount of patience, as Norby was able to handle us for almost half a day!

·         Association of Romas in Szomolya

> Works to integrate Roma families into Hungarian villages
> Uses EU funds to move Roma from cave homes to houses
> Provides each family with a mentor and teaches financial responsibility

·         Farasko Cave Art Association

> Has turned cave homes into a beautiful artists community
> Holds annual artist symposium
> Has a 'perfect pitch' room where 7 students can butcher 'Row Row, Row Your Boat'
> Sells cancer preventing Jam (delicious, I am told)

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