1% – Children's Railway


This is about taxes. 2011 was the last year when I actually had to pay income taxes in Hungary, and in Hungary you can offer 1% of your income to a church and another 1% to a non-profit. The first 1% is a no-brainer, it goes to the MAZSIHISZ. The second 1% is, however, a tougher choice. There are so many competing non-profits who want my meager 1%!

I definitely know who won’t get my 1%. It won’t be any of the animal shelters, because first I’m not that much of an animal lover, second, I hate all the shock tactics they use in their advertising. Definitely won’t be offering my 1% to kids with cancer funds, because there are just so many of them I can’t choose. It won’t go to Jewish charities or schools either, because then I feel like I just want to benefit from my own 1% a little too much.

After ruling out dozens if not hundreds of options, I once again end up with the same option as in the last few years: the Children’s Railway! In case you didn’t know, there is an 11 km long narrow gauge railway in the Buda hills that is operated by children ages 10 through 14. It was called Pioneer Railway in times past. The engines are driven by adults, and adults do supervise the children, but they remain mostly invisible. The Pioneer Railway opened in 1948, and I remember traveling with them on their 50th birthday, when the stations got their socialist era names back for a year, and former pioneer railway staff–now adults–took the kids’ place for a day, wearing the classic pioneer uniform. It was a fun day in a very not fun summer for me!

The Children’s Railway was also the place of one of the twins’ birthday parties, and we hope to do a belated birthday party for them this summer at the same place. Except now just taking our family will fill up the party car we rented back then! So I guess we’ll have to go with the larger one! It should be fun to do again, and still cheaper than renting a play place. Considering that many of oour kids are train fanatics, this would be the most perfect place for them all.

Till then, I will just offer my 1%. It will hopefully help keeping alive the largest such establishment, a great tradition of Budapest and Hungary. One that survived the fall of Socialism, the crisis of the Hungarian railways, the economic recession of the last half decade, and will probably survice the present Hungarian government, too.

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