| BICSKE, Hungary
BICSKE, Hungary Dec 16 For Karoly Nemeth, a
Roma man who lives with his family in a town just outside
Budapest, having electricity in his home is not always
His house is on the grid but the family has a card-operated
meter and towards the end of the month, the pre-paid card often
Nemeth, 42, who has side jobs in construction, lives with
his wife, two daughters and son on a monthly income of about
90,000 forints ($300).
With the help of Hungary's Romaversitas Foundation, an NGO,
his home has now been equipped with a solar panel.
The electricity generated is stored in a car battery, and
solar-charged LED strips attached to a piece of wood light their
home in the dim, cold winter evening.
The programme, called "Light bringers", has so far helped 40
families in various parts of Hungary.
"I hope we will save 2,000-3,000 forints this way, and we
will buy something for the girls for Christmas," Nemeth says,
sitting in his small kitchen heated by a wood-fired stove.
Gabor Daroczi, director of Romaversitas, which helps Roma
students from poor families get a college degree, says access to
electricity is a big problem for hundreds of thousands of Roma
living in poor villages. They are often cut off from the grid as
they are unable to pay their bills and fines.
"There is a family we go to in one to two months in Baks (a
village nearby) where there is a home without electricity for
six years and they use candles," Daroczi said.
Installing the solar-charged system costs about $100 for
($1 = 299 forints)
(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Angus MacSwan)