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Hungary: Clean clothes for social integration

8 Aprile Apr 2008 0200 08 aprile 2008

Hungary's first charitable laundry? A small social enterprise, set up by the Hungarian Maltese charity service to provide employment to homeless people offering them a chance to start their lives a n

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Hungary's first charitable laundry? A small social enterprise, set up by the Hungarian Maltese charity service to provide employment to homeless people offering them a chance to start their lives a n

The Hungarian Maltese Charity Service, one of Hungary?s largest charitable organisations, will now employ ten homeless people in a new public laundry opened on Friday 5th April. The first batch of clean clothes made it out yesterday from the laundry that was set up with an investment of 265 million HUF (1 million euros) won by the charity in a public call for proposal.

?We believe that all people have the right to live dirt-free lives: we have joined these people?s fight to earn their own wage and to find their self esteem once more. When you live on aid and charity alone, your confidence cracks?, said Father Imre Kozma, who is in charge of the Maltese Charity Service, on the laundry?s first official day of work.

The first batch of laundry came from a charitable foundation (Foltmentes Adomany) that gathers second hand clothes in Budapest and other big Hungarian cities like Szeged, Pécs, Debrecen, Eger and Szombathely. The new laundry will wash more than 20 tons of clothes and become the foundation?s official laundry-service, as well as that of the Maltese Charity Service. Private clients have also already demonstrated their interest in the service.

The aim of the social enterprise is to create opportunities for homeless people to start their lives a new, rather than as a different way of giving social aid. ?Our first aim is not social assistance, but to let our employees to make it back into the labour market. Our second aim, beside washing our social services' laundry, is to make new clients so that the laundry can become a sustainable enterprise able to produce its own income? ? said the leader of the Charity service?s Budapest office.