Melitta Ferkovics

Ashoka Fellow

Citation

This profile was prepared when Melitta Ferkovics was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1997.
The New Idea
Melitta Ferkovics's vision is to create self-sustaining communities in Hungary's poorest regions. For years, she has supported families that are unable to receive social aid from the state and that are so poor that they cannot provide food, clothing or shelter for themselves or their children. She works with businesses who donate foodstuffs, medical supplies, clothes, etc. for her distribution to the families in need. She also provides many families with the financial aid to pay for housing loans, electricity bills, and more. She works with local schools and governments to identify the needy in the region, visits them personally along with several volunteers, and then judges how they can best be helped. In the process, she discovered that many of the children from the poorest families were not able to pay for the school lunch program, and her foundation now provides lunches for 120 children in the local schools.

Melitta knows the needs of Hungary's poorest people intimately and has secured their trust--she is therefore uniquely situated to help them develop new life-habits. She has long recognized that the basic services she provides are not sufficient to cultivate long-term self-sufficiency in Hungary's indigent communities. Her vision is therefore to create self-sustaining rural communities through the introduction of agricultural and livestock production. She has begun providing families with the seeds, chicks, and other materials, and teaching them, with a team of volunteers, how to raise and sell what they have produced. In this way, she hopes that her work will provide the necessary foundation for families to raise themselves above the standard of abject poverty in which they live today.

The reintroduction of small agricultural techniques to post-industrial, post-collective contexts is a challenge for which Melitta is finding new solutions. There are few precedents for this particular type of work, and Melitta is forging new paths that are quickly gaining recognition in Hungary and beyond.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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