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The Healing Countryside | Civic Europe
Social inclusion, Community development

The Healing Countryside

An encouraging approach to empower local NGO’s and rural communities in Hungary to enhance social inclusion of people with mental difficulties


Who is behind this?

Mária Szeder-Kummer

Association for the Villages of Zala, AVZ (Zalai Falvakért Egyesület)


Who is joining forces?

Gyöngybagolyvédelmi Alapítvány (The Barn Owl Foundation)


Völgy Alapítvány


Táltos Egyesület


This project will be carried out in close collaboration with the Network of Village Caretakers. This informal network in Zala County is coordinated by the AVZ.


Idea pitch

“I have never thought I could be marginalized because of an illness!” Does it sound distant to you? We hope so! However, people with mental, social or learning difficulties, especially in the rural countryside, drift easily to the periphery of our society. They are likely to lose their job, friends, and many times their families. This project aims to change deeply rooted indifferent attitudes through empowering NGOs to foster social inclusion in rural communities. We will apply garden therapy.

Where will your project idea take place?

3 small villages (Orosztony, Bázakerettye, Almásháza) in the rural countryside of Zala County, SW-Hu

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

The rural society in Hungary has been and is going through many dire changes. The target region, Zala County is one of the areas in Hungary with extraordinary contrasts. Cities and holiday districts are thriving, whereas large remote areas in the countryside still belong to the poorest regions of Hungary. The origin of protective and excluding attitudes in small settlements is going back long in history and it is a heavy burden of the biological evolution of humankind. This legacy makes local communities suspicious, closed and unwelcoming towards “differences”. There are a few organizations in the countryside that try to resolve these social reservations. This project aims to empower these organisations with facilitating discussion and cooperation between stakeholders.

Who are you doing it for?

The direct target group of this project is NGOs that try to contribute to the social inclusion of people with various challenges. These organisations will be empowered with trainings, mentoring and organisational development to make them more capable to fulfill their mission.

The indirect target group who will benefit from the development of the NGO’s are the marginalised groups of people living in the countryside. The ultimate goal is to foster their social participation. These people suffer from learning difficulties, bleak social background or mental disorders.

The project will bring benefits for the local communities as well, who will get opportunity to engage with local, hitherto isolated NGO’s and initiatives.

How do you plan to get there?

Action#1 Project management and professional team meeting

Action#2 Information, creating discourses in local communities
1 joint workshop, 3 ws with local actors, 3 local village forums.

Action#3. Open garden therapy sessions for the target group, involving the local community.
Activity: 3 locations, 2-2 garden therapy days,

Action#4 Impact measurement, monitoring, recommendation
Activity: diagnosis of the state of the local community, exploration of arguments and counter-arguments, documentation. Policy recommendations

Action#5 Dissemination
Activity: expert blog (Hungarian-English) diary-like blog, video interviews, presentations

Methodological circle (closing event): when the audience not only listens but also engages, asks and has a desire to live like-minded.

What are the expected results?

NGO’s will be armed with new skills, infrastructure and human capacities, hence they will be more capable to give quality services.

People on the periphery of local communities will be involved in the local NGO’s activities as volunteers and/or service users.

Service users will be embedded in a safer environment, their social network will be richer. Local communities will be more tolerant and accepting.

Cooperation will be more established between stakeholders. Decision-makers involve the NGO-operated garden therapy centres in the social care network. The stable, continuous operation of the garden therapy centres will bring regularity to the patients hence their healing will be enhanced by alternative non-medicinal treatments as well.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

The two goals of the project is (1) to enhance garden therapy in order to foster social integration, and (2) to establish a partner network to make the induced changes sustainable.
The working method of this project is influencing many communities on a large scale across the county by empowering some key organisations and turning them into influencers. We provide support for NGOs to propagate this programme.
This project will put emphasis on anti-discrimination and recognition of people (i.e. appreciating others even with differences) as democratic values. Working towards a higher level of respect and tolerance fundamentally will change democratic attitudes in Zala county in small communities (#inhabitants<500).

Why is this idea important to you?

In Hungary, segregates are not only in large cities, but also in small settlements. In small villages the demand for social services is great, however, only limited types of services are available. Disadvantaged people are stuck in small villages, making local communities the only safety net for them. These communities are not ready to include disadvantaged groups yet. This partnership is devoted to help local communities at strengthening humanistic and democratic values in order to help their fellow needy.

Small villages posses still a diverse and natural environment. This feature greatly improves the mental state of the people living here. Our intention is to introduce the model to the communities of other settlements as well, to bring good experiences in collaborations.

€ 48980,-

Total budget

€ 48980,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Costs of professionals, experts with travel costs 30300 EUR
Office and overheads 2000 EUR
Room rental, technology 250 EUR
Subcontracts, Expert fees 2300 EUR
Target group travel costs 430 EUR
Subsistence 2000 EUR
Tools & equipment for garden therapy 4500 EUR
Dissemination, communication 4200 EUR
Impact measurement, monitoring 3000 EUR
Total: 48980 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

It would be nice to know what good practices can be shared among countries on the aid of disadvanteged groups living in the rural countryside.



Idea created on May 27, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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