Country, Date of election
Melitta began the Last Straw Foundation to address the needs of the poorest in Hungary’s poorest, post-industrial areas. The foundation begins with provisions of food, medicine, social aid, employment possibilities, and financial services to families. After these basic needs for are met, Melitta introduces special forms of mini-farming in agriculture and animal breeding to ensure long-term sustainability.
Before 1989, northeast Hungary was an industrial and agricultural centre. Since then, heavy industrial factories and agricultural cooperatives have been shut down and thousands of workers were laid off. Szabolcs-Szatmär-Bereg County suffers the highest rate of unemployment (32%) in Hungary. Most of the people have professions they cannot exercise in these circumstances, which is why retraining them and introducing self-supporting agriculture became a necessity. Melitta Ferkovics wishes to improve the living conditions of these indigent communities.
The Last Straw Foundation has helped many families in hopeless situations to become self-sufficient. Until today, 72 families have introduced mini-farming that produces goods not only for their own consumption but for sale as well. Melitta and the Founda-tion have been inspiring the Roma youth to study for professions. They are helping 8-10 elderly Roma people every year for instance to obtain their medicines. They have taken children on a bus-trip to Budapest, and organized several camps for children in need. They have paid for hundreds of children’s lunches and provide educational subsidies. They distribute clothes, furniture and food in 15 villages two or three times a year.
She established the Last Straw Foundation which in the first place provides families with adequate basic needs. They receive financial aid in the form of seed-corn, chemical fertilizer, food, clothes, medicine and social supplies. The Foundation provides them with job openings and financial services. As a next step, they participate in different training programs and receive help in introducing mini-farming and animal breeding to ensure long- term sustainability. The foundation also places great emphasis on family models, parenting and sanitation.
Faced with this enormous poverty and hopeless environment, Melinda became determined that these people should receive help and support. After providing’ for their basic needs – like food, medical and social supplies – she has created a sustainable model so that families can take charge of their own lives.
Melitta’s goal is to prevent indigent families from falling behind society permanently.