Elderly couple invests in Hungarian families

An elderly couple has been quietly helping poor Hungarian families with millions through their unofficial “mentorship program” that provides stipends those in need. The couple sees it as an investment for the future.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
Elderly couple invests in Hungarian families - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

“You cannot take your money to the next world” -- that is the motto of the couple, who wish to remain anonymous. They agreed, however, to have their photo taken and to tell their story in hopes that they could set an example to those who are well off but are not sure how to help those in need.

Géza and Ilona -- who only shared their first names -- lived in the United States for more than six decades. They settled down in Budapest for good five years ago and started their “program” by carefully selecting 12 families to whom they offered financial help, via a foundation, for a 12-16 month period. 

Over the past five years they have helped around 50 families.

They often find their protégés while reading about their stories in the papers -- which is also positive evidence of the power of the press. They select families whose members “live a decent life and are hard-working”. After a background check they try to get in touch with them.

At the moment they are helping 16 families  with monthly stipends. They claim to spend around 2 million HUF every month on their “program”.

Géza and Ilona say they can afford to help those in need because they always worked hard and saved the money.

“It is an investment… we invest in making people’s lives better.”

Details from the story:

  • Géza is of Hungarian origin, his wife has German roots. The couple has been married for 52 years. They are almost in their 80s. They say they do not have children who could inherit the family fortune.
  • Throughout his life Géza worked as an engineer, then he spent a decade in the IT sector, and finally worked as a financial adviser.  
  • Zsolt Kiss, a blind man who helps members of the Roma community in the town of Tiszavasvári, is mentored by the couple. He helps Romas solve bureaucratic issues at the doctor’s and at the local government for free. The Kiss family has a huge debt. After reading about Kiss in the newspaper Népszava, Ilona and Géza offered to pay the family’s debt and will give a monthly “stipend” to their daughter.
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