A memorial house was inaugurated in honour of Márton Kerecsendi-Kiss on Friday in Bicske in County Fejér. The late poet, writer and teacher operated Hungary’s first Roma school in this building from 1938.

At the inauguration ceremony, Minister of State for Social Inclusion of the Ministry of Human Resources Zoltán Kovács said that the work completed in the past 3 to 4 years was about recognising that “if we are able to face the tasks at hand and talk about them honestly, and if we are able to define everyone’s respective role and to create opportunities, then we shall succeed”. He added that no similar governmental programme will function well without the cooperation of the local communities, Roma and non-Roma Hungarians alike.

Mr. Kovács said that the May Lashon Trajo – Better Life Association has been awarded HUF 30 million for the organisation of afternoon inclusion sessions in the alternative learning facility operating in the memorial building. Additionally, the town has invested a further HUF 14.5 million in the refurbishment of the building. Zoltán Kovács highlighted that we should re-consider our common affairs on the basis of such exemplary cooperation schemes. 

The Minister of State also stressed that in communities “there exist the seeds and the opportunities that we should feed on, hand in hand”. He added that Roma and non-Roma people will live side by side in coming generations, and therefore the work cannot be done in 2 to 3 years, because “this will be a long-term cooperation”. 

Mayor of Bicske Zoltán Tessely (Fidesz-KDNP) reiterated that the local government closed down the kindergarten operating in the building, which was only attended by disadvantaged and multiply disadvantaged children and children with special educational needs, in 2011. The city hade extended the municipality's three other kindergartens with four additional group rooms and the children concerned now attend these institutions, he said. 

He stressed that they had to “find a realistic future” for the vacant building “with a historical past”, which the locals accept and embrace. “Thanks to the Foundation, forty children will receive appropriate education, care and fostering which will, no doubt, determine their future”, he said. As part of the ceremony, a Márton Kerecsendi-Kiss memorial plaque was also inaugurated on the wall of the building, 

Poet, writer and teacher Márton Kerecsendi-Kiss was born in 1917 in Kerecsend in Heves County. He studied in Eger and Győr and obtained a teaching degree in Budapest. He established the first Roma school in Bicske in 1938. His play „The Thirtieth” was staged in the metropolitan Belvárosi Színház theatre and was also adapted for the big screen in 1942.

He fled to Austria in the spring of 1945 and then moved to Argentina, working as the editor of the periodical Magyar Út from 1948 and of the weekly Magyarok Útja between 1949 and 1955 in Buenos Aires. He lived in Canada from 1957 where he was a contributor of the weekly magazine Magyar Élet. He moved to Cleveland in 1962; first working as a city clerk and then as a member of the Árpád Academy from 1972. He died in 1990 at the age of 73.

(Ministry of Human Resources)