The impact of The Way to Happiness can be illustrated in the ripple effect from just one precept—in this case, “Safeguard and Improve Your Environment.”
In the southeastern Slovakian town of Jasov, half the population is Romany, also known as Gipsies. Historically the subject of widespread discrimination, they still comprise an underclass in Slovak society. Additionally, their neighbourhoods have reflected the neglect and poverty that come from being marginalised in society.
In coordination with community officials, the Slovakian Way to Happiness team addressed the situation. First they presented a full briefing on The Way to Happiness booklet, book-on-film and programme to the Jasov Police Specialists, so named because they specialise in Romany issues. The police gave their approval for a project in the community and agreed to supply materials.
The Way to Happiness team then distributed copies of the booklet throughout the Romany neighbourhoods, encouraging residents to read and learn the precepts. From this came a new perception that the Romany could improve their relationships with the community as a whole by first and foremost upgrading their immediate environment.
Early on a spring morning, the Way to Happiness team and a crew of Romany residents went to work. The city supplied rakes, gloves, trash bags, trucks and wheelbarrows. The heavy lifting and literal dirty work was carried out by the Romany community and the Way to Happiness team.
In just four hours, the first 12 tonnes of garbage were collected and hauled away. Within three days, the combined Way to Happiness-Romany team had removed more than 150 tonnes of refuse from the neighbourhoods, with no outside assistance. The change was considered remarkable by the team, the Romany community and observers. Indeed, so unprecedented and dramatic was the transformation of the neighbourhood that the story played widely and favourably on Slovakian television.
Soon thereafter, the Police Specialists reported a 40 % reduction in crime at Jasov, attributed directly to implementation of The Way to Happiness.