What’s your story?
Since I was 10, I always had the passion and a clear picture of what I wanted to be and where I wanted to belong. I also had the desire to do anything it takes to achieve it. Something was always missing and it was talent. For example, I wanted to be a writer, but as much as I wanted to write a book, I had to realize that I didn’t have the talent to do that.
At the age of 11, I founded Lili magazine - a magazine for kids that we created with my friends. I was the chief editor, one of my friends was the manager and my other friend was the deputy chief editor… the first issue was 16 pages and the last one was 36 pages. This magazine had 150 subscribers from all over the country! We sent the magazines to schools and asked teachers to distribute it. Students were paying their subscription fee by sending money in an envelope. I have a huge pile of letters from our fans at home.
My parents were publishing language books as a hobby when I was younger. I learned Spanish in school and I decided to translate a Slovakian guide book to Spanish. This guidebook was actually published and you can find it in Google! :)
Then, I wanted to be an actress - I learned to sing and I went to a casting. At the casting, I couldn’t even start singing and I had to realize I was terrible at singing. Someone sang the song for me… I got the rejection letter but it was hard to accept that I couldn’t become an actress. So I decided that I wanted to become a musical producer. We managed to produce a Jungle Book Show. Then I wanted to be a teacher… Something was always missing.
You need one of these things to succeed: idea, skills or talent. If you have one of these and you’re able to attract others, you can create something really valuable. If you have a clear vision of what you want to become and you have the passion to make it come true - don’t plan, just do it. If you have a dream and the power to do it, you’ll succeed even if you’re missing the talent or skills - just bring together the right team to help you and together you can create wonderful things.
Know your limitations, but never let them be the limit of your success - look for solutions!
What motivated you to start the Amigos initiative?
I graduated at the Corvinus University of Budapest in the field of Finance and Accounting and I was a member of the Mathias Corvinus Collegium where I learned Media, Communication and Leadership.
I was thinking about a question for a long time - How could we help those people that needs to stay in the hospital for a long time? At the end of my first year at the university, I realized, I didn’t have to become a doctor to do that - I could find another way! That’s when I asked some of my friends from the university if they’d like to join me in visiting a hospital and motivate kids that are staying there with our personal stories and energy.
How are you helping kids in hospitals with Amigos?
The university students are the so called “Amigos” who are trying to spend their time with the kids in a very useful way - they teach languages for them. What’s even more important than that is to bring some fresh energy to the hospitals. It helps kids and parents as well as they build long term relationships that’s continued even once they’re out of the hospital.
Sometimes they play soccer in the hospital room where one of the goals is the bed and the other goal’s the infusion support - they completely change the atmosphere there! It’s hard to believe if you’re not there…
How did you approach hospitals to partner with you?
It’s really important to be credible from the beginning. I was credible because of my personal story of staying in a hospital for long. Then, we need to be organized from the start.
Whenever we approach a new hospital we ask what’s best for them - how many people they need on what days? And we have to make sure that we keep what we promise all the time. Up until now we’ve always done what we promised for the hospitals so they can refer us to other hospitals as well.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
At one of the hospitals we couldn’t get through bureaucracy and we didn’t want to be too pushy. We tried other hospitals and we chose to partner with another one, so it turned out well.
What are your biggest learnings from starting a non-profit?
Often we approached situations in a way that was unusual in the industry. For example, once I simply wrote an email to a hospital director and I went into the hospital asking for the head nurse. I introduced myself and told her that I was there with 10 of my friends and we wanted to help.
One of the hospital teachers happened to cross that exact corridor at that time and the head nurse introduced us to her. I had an hour to talk with her about what I wanted to do.
She gave me some valuable feedback, we took them and in a month, we were able to start in that hospital.
After that, my Mom and Dad told me that people usually don’t just go to a hospital and talk with the head nurse, and I must have been very lucky, because that’s not how it usually works.
You’re leading a group of 68 people from the “Generation Y”. Our generation is very different from other generations in terms of what they value at work. How do you motivate your team and make sure they show up on time and do their best?
I’m lucky because I’m leading a team of my generation. It’s always been very easy to find out what motivates them, because it’s the same that would motivate me. There are a few things that I organized consciously. One of them is responsibility. We shouldn’t appoint leaders from the top and we shouldn’t build an organization where there’s a president, a deputy chairman, a head of communications, a deputy head of communications, etc.
I think what demotivates this generation is to become part of a rigid organizational structure during traineeships at large companies where we’re not just at the bottom of the food chain, but they make it felt too.
At the university, we surround ourselves with people who keep telling us that we’re important, we’re needed and we can succeed alone or in a team. After all that, we see something completely different in reality. I think the greatest problem is that we are labeled - we can be analysts, junior managers and then we can climb the corporate ladder. I think that’s extremely adverse.
When you’re new at an organization and you know that there’ll always be someone more senior than you supervising your work, you don’t always feel responsible to do good quality work. You work hard only when you feel like it.
At Amigos, all members have full responsibility and complete freedom of action with guiding principles. I think this motivates all of us. If you take on a role - like organizing an Amigos event or managing Facebook - you will be responsible for that. We absolutely trust in all our members.
How important is it to have a mentor? How did your mentor helped you?
It’s really important to be proactive with your mentor. Ask the right questions and you’ll improve yourself and make better decisions. Mentors also have really valuable relationships that can help you reach more. My mentor helped me tremendously to find the right people to work with and to develope myself. She also reminded me that later I’ll need to help other to reach their full potential.
This year Sára is doing her master's degree in Amsterdam. Her purpose is to bring home foreign experience to develope her foundation and to make new possibilities for the needy families. She would like to create job opportunities for parents, in which they can work next to the hospital bed of their child in order to spend as many time as possible with each other.7
The Amigos team is operating in five hospitals in Budapest now, but they want to reach other regions in Hungary. To achieve this they started a fundraising campaign, which is available on the button below, so you can help them with just 1 Dollar too till 14th of November to make the world a better place! :)
Meet the team