This village is the site of an anti-gypsy march that ended in the firebombing of at least one home in late 2011. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/27/hungary-roma-living-in-fear for more information about the events.) We were guests of Brian McLean. Brian is a good friend who teaches English to the children who want to learn in Gyongyospata. He has gone to the town every Saturday for about 18 months and has missed only one time!
Brian introduced us to Fakas Janos who hosted us in his parents’ home. The Farkas family are leaders in the community. After a light lunch of open faced salami sandwiches, bread and chicken cutlets, we went and visited some other families. They were very hospitable and shared their dwelling. The houses were neat and clean. They were heated with wood that they had cut as part of a government public works program last summer. They said it was a good job and a good boss who let them keep the wood.
The people are very poor and have only the VERY basic things needed for life. There are no luxuries apparent in their lives with the possible exception of tobacco. The smoking is much less expensive here than in the US and seems to cut down on the hunger they experience on a regular basis. Out of a three generation family of 12, only one of the men had a job. He worked as a welder fabricating fuel lines for a company about 30 k away. He rode the bus to work and back getting up at 4:00 am to make it on time.
The other family of three generations in three rooms, had no one working. Their situation seemed considerably more desperate. They were very close to the edge of survival.
In spite of the poverty that was so oppressive, they were all cheerful, open, and readily shared about their experience.