25 Years in Service of People with Physical Disability in Pest

25 Years in Service of People with Physical Disability in Pest County, Hungary

Our job started as an association of the town Vác. As Board Member of the Budapest Association of the Disabled I attended a series of lectures on social policy in the capital. There I met dr Borbála FIESZL, the head of the rheumatology dpt. Her idea was to launch an association in Vác for disabled people. All the required political and administrative approvals had been collected – in those days it was rather difficult to create an organisation. The Vác Association of the Disabled could start its operation inside the Vác Cultural Center on the 6 th of October, 1979.

There we had 33 members and 600,- HUF. Operation was rather slow, and it was only some time later that we were able to have our own place. During the months following the establishment of the National Federation of Disabled Persons'Associations (MEOSZ) of Hungary, the Secretary of our Association and I visited the larger settlements in our region. We obtained the support of the local leaders in power. In nine towns and large villages, groups of disabled people were established. Their delegates founded the Pest County 's Association of Disabled People on October 1, 1981.

After considering the past 25 years and surveying the documentation, one could conclude that although our development has not been even, but it has been constant. Our members´ number reached the sum 5.000, after several rigorous revisions. The members of the 11 single and independent associations in close contact with us, some with a partnership contract is not included. The number of local units is 36, 11 of them are independent units. In 1982, the only one of our colleagues, who received a salary from the Association, managed altogether only 300 cases. Now there are 17 employees, who work in the Association's two institutions receiving salary. Together with the secretaries of local associations and people linking the settlements, they manage more than 10 thousand cases in the interest of disabled people annually. In all associations for several hours a week people are received for hearings concerning various problems.

Following the establishment of the Vác Association we were given a small room of 36 square metres. We moved to a headquarter of 132 square metres only in January, 1999.

We worked with great enthusiasm on the establishment of the National Federation, and we managed the organisations of programmes of national interests.

We organized a meeting in the town of Szentendre , in 1982, on holiday possibilities, on the advantages and utilization of spas. There was a meeting of club-leaders of the whole country in Vác in 1983. We organized a training for the secretaries of local associations in the town of Csopak , in 1985. We discussed the specific problems of disabled women in Dabas in 1989. We took part in organizing the Szolnok camp for disabled children for many years. There was an exhibition and fair of rehabilitation devices in Vác in 1994, and also a Regional Cultural Festival in Biatorbágy.

Our association supported the operation of the national letter-writers' club for people with physical disability promoting personal contacts for shut-ins. For 14 years every year we organise an art camp in Nagykörös for physically disabled people coming from all over the country. We organised the National Day of People with Disabilities with great success in Nagykörös, Érd and Pilisvörösvár. We held a meeting on the issue of employment difficulties in Gödöllõ, and in Vác another one on the issue role of religion in equal opportunities.

There were also regional meetings about equal opportunities, the questions of social policies, and finally about the employment of people with changed working capacity.

Our activities became more and more widespread. In 1990 we started to create a living center. In order to implement this task, we created a foundation called “Living Center of Physically Disable Persons. The eighth flat was finished in 1999. In 1991 we created the foundation called “Help to Physically Disabled” with the aim of helping dozens of people of Pest County in their rehabilitation with small amount of money.

Firstly we made efforts to obtain out work for 30-40 shut in in the frame of the association. Recently we created a limited company (Civil KHT, Üllõ) for people with changed working abilities within Alfa Company in the framework of sheltered employment with the same employers and many more. At present 50 people with physical disability are employed.

In 1999 we made a survey included eight hundred people with physical disability in Pest County . Since 1996 we have operated a transport service in Vác and in its agglomeration.

Now our support service works with two vehicles and three personal assistants with state support. In 1998 our association got a huge school building, in bad condition, from the local government. We started to create a dwelling, or living center for 12 persons within a project. The first tenants could move in in 2002. Both dwelling center and support service are judged professionally as being on good level. Students use them as field-work as well. We provide physiotherapy service in three towns.

We've received some rehabilitation devices as a donation from Germany and those devices can be borrowed. Some of our local groups carry out the same activity: they purchase technical aids and borrow them.

According to governmental decree we take part in implementation of tasks belonging to the competence of the state, eg: Awarding support for making a flat accessible, or distribution of bills for obtaining cars with financial support of the state.

In 2001 we published a book with the title Equal Opportunities and Disability in 5000 copies and all are sold out by now. Meanwhile our computer pool has also improved. We provided five of our associations with computers within a project. The center of the association and the two other institutions are also well equipped.

We do our best to supply more and more information for those who are working for the benefit of disabled people. We prescribed HUMANITÁS, the newspaper of the National Federation (MEOSZ) to our communicants of the various settlements and to our local secretaries. When posting the newspaper each month, different practical and theoretical information is sent enclosed. Meanwhile the reorganisation of the network of communicants of the settlements became inevitable. This work was launched this year inside our Dabas Association.

We endeavour to have good contact with the local governments of the settlements. Papers, documents with regards to information on people with physical disabilities in general, to rehabilitation, to special needs and to the special situation of them, are sent to local governments twice a year. In February 1999 we had the chance to give a lecture to the mayors, notaries and clerks of the local governments on the „Act on Equal Opportunities” and on their tasks resulting from the Act at a meeting organized by the County's Administration Office. Also in the Assemblies we get our members aquainted with the law and with the tasks resulting from that.

Certainly we have leisure time activities as well, sometimes also celebrations besides the heavy tasks. More than 200 club-meetings are organized yearly, dozens of excursions are arranged, there are also many other events. Most important are the following:

The Days of Equal Opportunities, Days of Parasports in Ócsa, and in Monor. A new tradition is born in Budaörs, the so called Days of Empathy.

Our Association carried out an exchange-programme of 10 persons with the Swiss partner NGO 12 years long. 1989 and 1990 were the top years, when we had groups from Malta, Slovakia, and Yugoslavia having a holiday together with our people. Today we arrange holiday exchanges of 4 persons with the German partner association.

We created holiday possibilities also inside of Hungary. In 1984 we could offer the possibility of summer holiday for 32 people in the Monorierdõ camp, with help of the Hungarian Red Cross. A few years later the camp was sold, therefore that possibility ended. In the same year we started to organise summer holiday for the most seriously disabled in the Zebegény Sanatorium of the Vác Hospital. This is at the Danube-band, one of the most beautiful parts of Hungary. The staff of the sanatorium provided assistance. Their transportation to the sanatorium and home was managed by the National Ambulance. Some years later also that possibility was stopped. We made special efforts to cover the costs of spending the holiday for some of our members in the previous years, like the International Balaton Meeting, Holiday for Children, Young People's Meeting, Creative Workshop, etc.). Recently we offer this possibility for the members of the Young People's Club.

Our continuous job is to restore the 1000 square meters buildings in the town center lying on the site of 2600 square meters, received in 1998. We renovate parts of the buildings step by step gaining money through applications, projects. In this way we created the Association's office, which also includes the Support Service, the large room for cultural programs, the dwelling (living) center, and the workshop.

We made the whole building fully accessible with ramps and automatic doors.

There are still unrenovated parts of the building. Although our annual turnover is more than 50 million HUF arising from projekts and the state support, less and less money can be obtained for the effective work in the association. That is due to bad morality of paying membership fees. (Only 50% of the members pay membership fee).

We have been striving to adapt our association to the changing circumstances during the years. Our local branches are more and more independent. The division of labour between the local branches and the center of the association has been rearranged. After a year of preparation work our association became the Regional Association of Central Hungary in order to take full advantages of the regional structure in the future. We follow the changes of the public administration with attention. We would like to establish the positive role of our association in the newly formed small areas of the region. In 2004 as member of a consortium we submitted project proposals to three different projects. In case of success we can create a support service in Dabas as well. On one hand our leaders participate in trainings provided by the National Federation (MEOSZ) according to possibilities, on the other hand we also organise sometimes information meetings for local co-workers. Our annually published brochure provides wide range of information for the members. We recently developed our website: www.mkmore.mentha.hu .

60 % of the inlydividual members are above the age of 50. Our local branches are visited mainly by elder people. That is why we decided to find children and young people with serious physical disability. We want them to get involved in life of our local organisations, groups and clubs. For many years different clubs for young and retired people, as well as for young people with multiple disability have been operated in Vác.

As a result of a project we created a so called “eHungary Point” which means that guidance is provided to disabled and elderly people with help of PC equipments.

We encourage people with different disabilities to get involved in our activities within their NGOs, educational social institutions.

As a member of MEOSZ we contribute to implement tasks within the national competence. (Collecting data, information, demonstrations, further tasks).

Vác 08, Oktober 2004


Dr Chikán Csaba

President of the Association