The History of Surviving & Thriving, an Essential Guide Book of Budapest

Surviving & Thriving Guide to Living in Budapest

Estimated reading time: 7 minute(s)

The North American Women’s Association (NAWA) of Budapest is dedicated to fostering a sense of community to North Americans and to other members of the Expat community from all over the world who would like to communicate in English. NAWA offers a forum for all members to participate with the local community through events and charitable activities and the opportunity to interact, embrace and learn from the many cultures represented by its membership.*

As Sue Tatrallyay recalls, the start of S&T was in the summer of 2000. In the olden days, as a member of the American Women’s Association (the name at that time) you got a few photocopied pages of cuts of meat etc. but after pages have been copied thousands of times they get blurry and almost unreadable. In time the AWA graduated to a little plastic book with a few services, helpful information but it wasn’t regularly updated.

There was an American lady called Agnes Neider (sadly now deceased) who in 2000 said, “Sue, you are the Chair, make a book of helpful stuff and call it Surviving & Thriving.”

Although Agnes wasn’t actively involved at the time, a few of the ladies thought it sounded like a good idea and committed their summer to making it happen. Deborah Morrison, Rebecca Farmer, Jamie Wollums and Theresa Kernahan took on the project with more of the members also involved in gathering information. They took all the pages from the plastic book and really went to town. That was when it was decided that all the money raised from sales of the book would go to charity, specifically at that time, a Budapest old people’s home. They took it very seriously. In those days it was sponsored by Move One and Copy General.

The “three recommendation” thing came about because there was an English language phone book out then and many little booklets with advertised space. It was overwhelming. Our three recommendations gave the S&T book credibility, uniqueness and real selling power.  Sue did the updates and Sharlene Helfgott did the sales and marketing. They made so much money that magic happened. The oldies got a river cruise, trips to the zoo, the sale of S&T really made lots of wonderful things possible. Sue remembers one elderly lady saying that she had waited 83 years to have a river cruise.”

When Sue was Chairperson, the name of the association changed to incorporate not just Americans but Canadians. In 2000 it became known as the North American Women’s Association (NAWA) and it was under Sue that charity was introduced as a part of NAWA’s mission statement.

The sale of Surviving & Thriving made the frivolous things possible….ice cream cones, watermelon, bingo games, outings, little luxury items for both the elderly and orphans that we supported.

Surviving & Thriving was updated at least 3 times over the years but then by 2014, the guide had not been updated for a while and was out of print. It was in late 2014 that the decision was taken that S&T should once again be revived. This time Stuart McAlister at Inter Relocation was the instigator. He was looking for a way to help his clients to make the most of their stay here in Hungary and he also wanted to support needy Hungarians. This is how it all began again.

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Stuart approached NAWA with the novel idea that he would sponsor the entire production (printing and design) of S&T if we would update the whole volume and then all the donations collected for the book would stay with NAWA to go directly into its charity programs. At first there was some resistance because the guide had not been revised since 2012 and there would be a lot of research required – this meant it was going to be very time consuming. However, under the leadership of Sue Tatrallyay who organised a group of ladies to diligently work through the volume – checking phone numbers, confirming, removing, adding and extending, they succeeded. It was a big task but thoroughly encompassing. We learnt a lot and enjoyed the process. Nothing stayed in the book if it hadn’t been recommended. This volume truly represents the voice and experience of expats living in Budapest. Then the following year the guide was modified for a new print out.

Once again in 2017 Stuart approached us once again to update this useful guide. Now NAWA has the newest, latest edition of Surviving and Thriving – thanks to Stuart, his Marketing Manager Edit, who patiently worked with the designer and printers to translate our requirements into book form. Marilena Marczinka and her team of writers patiently worked through the whole book to make it a true up to the minute resource for anyone who wants to navigate this city with ease and knowledge.

Thanks to the donations we receive for the S&T (and indirectly to Inter Relocation from two other key sponsors, First Med Centers and the American International School of Budapest, the NAWA charity programs have a new lease and are better able to support the needy children and families offering them once again little luxuries that they would not be able to allow themselves in normal circumstances.

We hope reviving this once famous guidebook helps. If we save one person from a scam, get them with the right doctor, help them navigate the city in a wheelchair, or introduce them to a romantic place for their anniversary, we have succeeded in our mission.

*source: NAWA website.