Autism Foundation, autistic children, briquettes of money, burning banknotes, burning currency, burning forints, Foundation to Help Autism, Habitat for Humanity, Habitat for Humanity Hungary, Krisztina Haraszti, Krisztina Haraszti Szalkainé, Maatrhorn Ranch, Mental Disability, Mid-America Association for Autistic Training and Research, Miskolc International Opera Festival, Miskolci Autista Alapítvány, Renate Schiele, Rights International, twin towns with Cleveland Ohio
In the USA, turning Dollar bills into ashes is verboten. Title 18, Section 333 of the U.S. Code says that if one does, the offender “…shall be fined not more than $100 or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.”
The Secret Service enforces this provision. If you have an urge to burn a few bucks, just for the heck of it, ensure you’re far away from a chap wearing sunglasses who mumbles into the lapel of his jacket.
The law in Britain is similar. There, a bank note is actually a promissory note from the Governor of the Bank of England to pay the bearer the amount on it. As such, the note remains the property of the Bank.
In earlier years, old Dollar bills were burned by the government. Nowadays because of the lead in the ink (who knew?), they are buried.
In hugely sensible contrast, as it has done for the past four years, Hungary’s Central Bank is again pulping great wads — some 40 or 50 tons worth — of old Hungarian forint notes into briquettes.
According to Reuters, Hungary is the only country which recycles its worn cash for fuel.
It takes about 5 million forints (say, $22,414, £14,229, €17,000) to make a single one-kilogram (2.2 lb) briquette. The notes are cut into pieces of 1 to 5 millimeters. The paper is then compressed. No chemicals are added. The briquettes are distributed to various charitable organizations.
Charitable intentions to one side, however, the most predictable human foibles are accounted for in this process; all workers concerned must wear only pocket-less clothes!
Krisztina Haraszti Szalkainé , the head of a center for autistic children in the impoverished northeastern town of Miskolc reported:
“It’s a very useful charitable act, a vital aid for our foundation because we can save part of our heating costs”. Since the briquettes have a high calorific value, “one only needs to add a few bits of wood and the rooms are really warm”.
This is another affirmation of the Hungarians’ steely resolve. Dating back to the darkest days when Soviet troops occupied and ham-fistedly ruled that lovely land, I have personally witnessed this determined “get-on-with-it spirit”. Sadly, it also reveals how some former Warsaw Pact Nations still fare today.
Krisztina Haraszti, the lady who runs this Foundation, and I have exchanged emails, in English. She kindly reports that the website of the Foundation and children’s home, Miskolci Austitat Alaptivańy though now in Hungarian, only, will soon be translated into English and perhaps also German. That website is here: http://www.autista.extra.hu/crbst_2.html
She assures me that the charity’s local bankers are arranging for those who wish to donate to the charitable facility can soon do so by credit card via the website and from anywhere in the world.
Miskolc (in Hungarian, pronounced [miʃkolts]) is an ancient town in far eastern Hungary. Look on a map for Vienna, Austria, then go 200 miles (328km) due east on the same latitude. Proof of human habitation in the area dates back 700 centuries, not years..
Old Man Winter is far from over. The legendary easterly winds blustering across the Hungarian plain are as cold as imaginable.
As financially insecure as these children in northeastern Hungary are, independent third-parties such as Renata Schiele, Global Village & Communications Coordinator of the Hungarian Habitat for Humanity have assured me that Mrs. Haraszti and her team are loving and supportive. Their goal is to ensure that these children not only survive but learn and thrive.
Each of these most unfortunates is even greater why Mrs. Haraszti and her fine team in Miskolc, Hungary deserve praise and support for her efforts. She can be reached as follows:
Miskolci Autista Alapítvány, Csermőkei út 2/a, 3533 Miskolc, Hungary
Miskolc is a ‘twin town’ with Cleveland, Ohio. Perhaps many good-hearted Clevelanders will be amongst the first to show solidarity with this good lady and her efforts.
One hopes they will not be the last.