Supporting a challenged or an ill child is just a way of help for a company, an organization, a foundation or a civil person. But for the child, it can mean everything. In other words, quoting Gabriel Garcia Marquez: “To the world, you are someone – to someone, you are the world!”
The National Association of Organizations and Sponsors Supporting Ill and Challenged Children, or – with a Hungarian acronym – BESZT, organized its first conference in January in the Ramada Plaza Budapest Hotel. This is the first umbrella organization in Hungary that comprises civil foundations supporting ill and challenged children.
This international charity conference held in Hungary also served the purpose of establishing the BESZT association. It was founded by renowned doctors, civil organizations, entrepreneurs, PR and marketing experts and other people committed to the good cause.
“This is a historical event in the line of civil contracts and charity movements in Hungary” stated BESZT Vice-President Istvan Balogh in his opening speech. For the some one hundred people invited for the conference, he presented the newly established organization, its main objectives and its results, so far. “The BESZT alliance is willing to be one of Hungary’s most determinant umbrella associations, expecting to involve more than a hundred civil organizations. We are willing to serve as a bond between the actual governments and the civil organizations,” Balogh added.
The basic activities of BESZT include coordinating the civil organization members, developing their workflow, lobbying for EU funds in order to be more successful in fund-raising, doing consultancy work for them in legal, PR or marketing issues.
During his opening speech, Istvan Balogh – who is also the president of the Children Cancer Foundation (Gyermekrák Alapítvány), the most supported civil organization in Hungary – also declared that in the midst of the economic crisis, BESZT wants to prove that there can be alliance, solidarity and capacity to help people living in underprivileged circumstances. “It is a fact that the performance of civil organizations is stalling these days. BESZT sees it clearly that power is in unity: either, we speak about planning to submit an application for a tender or we actually do something to achieve any aims.”
“As we all know, the income of the ordinary civil organizations comes nowadays from the one percents that people donate from their annual taxes. These donations provide 30% of the organizations’ entire income. We all wish that the income from the one percents would reach 100 % one day. This is what we are working for – together!” he continued. “Many organizations dealing with ill or challenged people cannot come into the limelight, what is more, neither can people in need find them. This is the area where BESZT can help! We have the infrastructure and the relations to help these organizations, to help the helping hands!”
Balogh also stressed that charity, solidarity and care should get more and more popular amongst individuals, organizations and companies. The Vice-President added that “I would like the world to reckon Hungary as a nation, which is solid, helpful, cares for the people in need, the challenged people and ill children. We do not need a better country image than this!”
The conference was also attended by the leaders of foreign umbrella organizations. The presidents of the Italian, Turkish and American organizations talked about their work, their experience and their achievements. Furthermore, they expressed their intention to cooperate with BESZT.
Prof. Francesco De Lorenzo, President of the Italian umbrella association ‘Malati di Cancro’ emphasized that voluntary organizations play an important role in public service in Italy. Without charity activities, the state could not fulfill all tasks. If these voluntary organizations get together, they get more powerful.
Malati di Cancro works successfully with the government on cancer patients’ needs. The National Cancer Plan for 2010-2012 is one of the projects where they could successfully cooperate with the authorities and shape the outcome. They also put a law into force that cancer patients can keep their work during treatment and may have flexible work schedule. They established a national cancer information service that has publications, a helpline, information desks in hospitals, universities and websites too.
The president of the Turkish umbrella organization, Prof. Dr. A. Sarper Diler spoke about similar experience. “We are not enough if we work separately but strong if we work together”. He also stated he was here to make new contacts and start cooperating with Italy and Hungary.
He highlighted the importance of communication. Publicity is very important because if someone is diagnosed with cancer he or she should find the right help, doctor, information, funding…. “Our organization educates helpers called ‘blue angels’ who are mostly retired women and students. They are skilled healthcare providers and help cancer patients in need. The pilot project has started in 3 hospitals, so far and it is really successful. The online support is essential, as well.” Diler finished his speech with a saying “I say the next saying in Haitian, just because of the happenings of last month: united we stand, divided we fall”
The fourth presenter at the conference was MICE foundation president Laszlo Meszaros. He established a course for young Hungarian students in 2003 to teach the foundations of ethical entrepreneurship. His courses feature topics like the foundations of business, the ethical considerations in decision-making, the identification of business opportunities and consumer needs, market analysis, accounting or ownership. Meszaros hopes that “acquiring all this knowledge will contribute to the self confidence one definitely needs to be able to conduct a successful business and turn people away from elitist and snobbish mentality in business life.” Speaking about challenged children, Meszaros added that “the situation today does not hold out many possibilities but talent does not depend on wealth! My foundation provides young adults with the desire for knowledge, the desire to fight. We show them the right way: how to escape the schemes and powerlessness. We show them how to become their own help.”
The conference was attended by representatives of the government, diplomatic, health and social organizations and other companies as well as editors and directors of media organizations. In their remarks, they all expressed their intention to support the initiative.
Kalyi Jag Art High School principal Gusztav Varga raised for the issue of Romany people in Hungary and in the EU. He joined the BESZT association in the hope that it will be able to help the challenged and often poor Romany people, too.
Government MP Zsolt Torok promised that he, with other colleagues, will help BESZT so that it can inform Parliament about its projects more easily. A governemnt under-secretary, Andras Teleki, also highlighted, there are many tender opportunities and they are going to help BESZT to enter these.
Szechenyi Scientific Society Foundation vice-president Miklos Szunai pointed out that the aims of the foundation include the creation of a positive social atmosphere – within Hungary and abroad – that invites, appreciates, and honors prominent intellectual achievements promoting economic development. In 2010, they are planning a children therapeutic centre.
Other participants at the conference included Sandor Isaszegi-Toth, a doctor and a cancer foundation member from Vojvodina; an area in northern Serbia with substantial ethnic Hungarian population and Attila Pesti, a producer and the representative of the Red Nose Clowndoctors Foundation.
The next meeting of the association is going to be in Istanbul in the first week of April.
The BESZT alliance can be joined by any individual or organization. Read more and join them at the BESZT homepage. ( http://beszt.hu/user/besztreg )