by Phiren Amenca volunteer Clémence Neyrat
From the 16th to the 18th of December we went to the town of Berettyóújfalu, located in Eastern Hungary and one of the thirty-three most disadvantaged settlements of the country. We spent a few days at the Art school belonging to the Real Pearl Foundation created and lead by Nóra Ritók.
“The Real Pearl Art School (created in 2000) offers art education to the children from 12 municipalities in Hajdú-Bihar county, in the field of visual and applied arts, dance, and on the faculties of graphic design, painting, handicraft, enamel, ceramics and social dances.
The specialty of the school is the art education of disadvantaged pupils including Roma children, and of children with special educational needs.
The goal of this institution is to provide a possibility to create to a wider mass of children, combining the art education with the development of their personality.”
I was really impressed by her great work with children but not only that. Nóra is involved in three different fields: education/art education with children from her school and also other schools, family support, and activities inside the local community (often living in very poor conditions) including personal activities aimed at reaching more self-confidence, cooking and handiwork workshops, and promoting information about health and sexuality. She now cooperates with other partner organizations, reaching an amazing sense of team work. For example, women from the local community use the kids’ drawings to create sewed garments which are then sold on the foundation’s webpage (http://igazgyongy-alapitvany.hu/)
And yet, she is able to show a deeper sense of respect and humility!
Nóra’s artistic talent was impressive and I noticed that she also is skilled in sharing it with children who were incredibly quiet and attentive during the workshops.
What she said, and what I could clearly see myself, is that the important creative part established in this school allows children to get more confident and be proud of themselves. Without regard to the origin, the social situation or any other consideration, the point is to show to everybody that participating in art competitions, and won prizes many times.
During these few days we assisted the foundation in facilitating the art workshops, and helped with collecting and preparing gifts as well as packing foodstuffs for the poorest families (usual activities which are even more important in the Christmas time).
Nora also shared with us the vocation of the foundation and there are some points that I would like to publish here because it was for me full of meaning and the basis of an amazing work.
Very important is to be aware of the knowledge that everybody has, what I interpret as not regarding his own knowledge as the only possible standard and not judging. For her, education can allow people to get out of poverty but this is not enough. Collaborating, working WITH these poor families is essential in order to promote development of self-confidence and independence. Finally she insisted of the reciprocal richness that people can share.
Nora explained that the team was much more successful while using alternative methods than with the traditional teaching methods. She pointed out the importance of sharing the joy of exchanging, the value of respect and the acceptation of the diversity with the children.
The Real Pearl Foundation aims to create motivation and an atmosphere of trust, and to help kids with choosing the right topic, finding their way… to finally making them keep a positive attitude towards school.