I grew up as a foster child in Tornanádaska (Hungary), I loved the institution very much. I completed eight years of general school and then vocational training, I became a livestock and plant breeder, I passed my exams with Bs and As. After that I had the opportunity to go to Jászapáti to continue my studies, which I did.
Then, in the second year of my studies I turned 18 and I felt that I could leave the institute. I ran away to Ózd, where my family of Roma origin lived. For two weeks I slept at the bus stop, not really knowing who my father and mother were. Then a small child came with a woman who turned out to be a member of my biological family. A lot of people came, and I thought it was because of me. But it turned out that the whole fuss was not about me, but about the money I had with me. It was too good to be true. They took the money off me pretty quickly, it was over 1,200,000 forints. Not even a month had passed and I was taken to the station without clothes or money. I begged the conductor to let me take the train to Miskolc. I went back to the institution. I had not a forint. Even then I didn’t understand what had happened, I was so attached to my supposed family. I didn’t experience the events as if they had taken my money, but as if I had given it to them. I was too positive about everything at the time. After that I was in Miskolc for a month and a half and there I got to know the Golgotha Christian Church. They contacted a church in Budapest and then I came up to the capital, and immediately I was renting an apartment with their help.
So I came up to Budapest. I couldn’t find a way to get a job there, I was 19 or 20 years old at the time. I fell into drugs overnight. At first I felt like the world was mine, I could do anything. Until I was 33, I regularly injected drugs
I was 33 years old – in May 2012 – when I went to use drugs by a construction site opposite the Clinics, where there are now renovated apartments, but back then a dilapidated building. A lot of people who were homeless or experienced drug dependency used to go there. I went there, bought speed, which was 2500 Ft on Lujza street. There was a guy there, of Roma origin like me. He told me to give him drugs, I said no. Then I turned around and he hit me on the head with a huge iron bar – so hard that I didn’t know anything from then on. He threw me down, robbed me, I crawled on the ground in blood for 24 hours, nobody cared. Then a taxi driver stopped somewhere in the street after 24 hours, he called an ambulance and the police. I was an unrecognisable man. I was in a coma for 8 months, in the meantime I had several brain operations.
When I woke up from the coma, I didn’t know my name, where I lived before, what relatives I had. I laughed at everything and for over half a year I could only say “Nyaminyami” like a two year old child. It’s been my nickname ever since. I was assigned a caretaker until I was released from the hospital. I then went to court with police protection. There were four trials, I had trouble remembering things. The trial lasted over a year (June 2013). The sentence was very serious: 9 years and 6 months for ’violating my right to physical integrity’. But I didn’t calm down, because I feared the day he would be released. The court ordered 6 million forints in property damages, which the offender was supposed to pay within 15 days of the verdict. I have not received this amount, as the perpetrator has no assets or income, and this amount has also accrued interest over eight years. In addition to that, the perpetrator was ordered to pay me a monthly income compensation allowance of 50,000 forints from May 2012, on the 10th of each month, without any time limit. I have never received this amount, neither from the perpetrator nor from the Hungarian state. For 8 years, since the accident, I have been living partly on an active-age pension, which is a very low amount – 27,170 forints.
After the case was closed, I fell back into drugs again, not knowing where and to whom I could turn for help, who I could trust, what to do with my money. I was convinced that I was not going to be able to make it in life on my own. I was never notified, no one contacted me about the case. Now that I am seriously committed to recovery, I would like to look into the matter. I find it hard to trust people, but the social workers around me help me. My opinion is that the Hungarian state should have intervened in my case. I have asked the court for the official record, that’s all I can do for now.
I have always suffered atrocities because of my Roma origin and drug use. In the court papers it is repeatedly stated that I am a ’drug user’ or ’drug abuser’. When I went to my last court hearing, when I only met the judge and the lawyer, I was called in at the gate. I thought it was a misunderstanding. Then I had to pee in a box to see if I had done drugs recently. It took four and a half hours because of the stress. I felt very humiliated and wanted to get the whole thing over with.
But there was also the time I was shamed in the psychiatric courtyard. After the accident I had to go back for regular check-ups. Every time I went into the hospital in the back yard I would get these comments from patients saying ‘well the junkie is here’, I would hear it from the hospital staff sometimes, although they didn’t say it to my face.
I also had a problem here at Népliget a few weeks ago. I was given medication tablets in a small sealable bag by the street outreach programme. They shattered in my bag so badly it was almost in the form of powder. A police officer stopped me, I took the packet out, which was smashed to pieces. They didn’t handcuff me, but they said they would arrest me immediately. I was in there for six hours, I couldn’t pee. I was upset, they put me in the police car in public, it was humiliating. So I couldn’t pee for the urine test, nothing came out, I drank a lot of water. I begged the policeman not to leave the door open. He locked the door and I managed to pee. Then they took me to the doctor. There it turned out that I hadn’t taken drugs, and I was simply given a paper. I suppose the fact that I went to visit the street outreach programme meant to the police that I was a drug user and that I was using drugs. Of course they didn’t apologise – they just let me go.
One time I found a phone dropped in a bush. I went to hand it to the street patrol, which immediately assumed that ‘it must be the junkie, the gypsy who stole it, let’s take him in’. But one of the women in the patrol stood up next to me and said I wouldn’t have handed the phone in if I had stolen it. She spoke of me as a ’Hungarian’. They let me go, but I found it hard to believe it, and I kept waiting for for them to call me, saying ’come back, we’ll take you in’.
These are the things I thought to tell you.
Tamás’ story was originally compiled by the Rights Reporter Foundation. His story has been translated from Hungarian with the support of DeepL.com and edited for clarity.