Isten megvigasztal minket minden nyomorúságunkban, hogy mi is megvigasztalhassunk másokat minden nyomorúságban, azzal a vigasztalással, amellyel az Isten vigasztal minket. (2Kor 1,4)
About the Refugee Mission of the Reformed Church in Hungary
The Reformed Church in Hungary has been in existence since the Reformation. Aiding the asylum seeker and refugee has been an activity performed by the church since this time as well. In the 20th century following the collapse of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe, the Church provided aid to ethnic Hungarians arriving from Romania and the former Yugoslavia. In 2000, the refugee ministry took on a new shape as Hungary was then receiving asylum seekers from Africa and Asia. The main purpose of our organization is to provide assistance, comfort and fellowship to anyone in need regardless of nationality, race, religion or social position. Our overall vision and strategy is to assist Hungarian society in "welcoming the stranger" and accepting "newcomers" as brothers and sisters. We aim not only to help with material needs but also with helping people with their spiritual, psycho-social needs, welcoming them into a supportive community.
The Refugee Mission is a mission set up by the Reformed Church. We are supported and are held accountable to the General Synod which is held two times per year. The synod is composed of clergy and laity who have been entrusted with decision making power on behalf of the whole church body. In organizational structure, the Refugee Mission is part of the Reformed Mission Centre. The mission centre coordinates activities of all of the "social" missions of the church i.e. Refugee mission, Homeless ministry, Roma Mission etc. The Refugee Mission is also informally subdivided into two departments. One working strictly with three EU funded projects (see below) and the other working on more general matters related to this ministry (administration, PR, collection and distribution of aid). Our office is located in Budapest where the bulk of our work done but we make regular visits to regional asylum reception centres as well (there are three main ones in Hungary).
Our three main activities assist refugees with accessing housing, employment and education. We have been operating a housing assistance project and a school integration project since 2005 and a Nanny training programme since 2008.
Housing support is not provided by the government of Hungary to refugees. Our housing project assists families by providing them with a full rent subsidy for one year and an incrementally decreasing subsidy for 6 months. This enables the familiy to leave refugee camps/centres and begin life in a Hungarian community. During their 18 months participation in the programme, social workers assist the families with finding employment, registering their address, and weaving through the maze of Hungarian bureaucracy. They also assist to all, and any day-to-day needs.
The situation of education of recognized refugees and indeed any legal resident of Hungary of non-Hungarian ethnicity is also a challenging one. Recent changes in the relevant laws have established the framework for the integration of such school age children and youth into the Hungarian school system, however many of the conditions of this framework are not being practiced in reality.
Our school programme offers high school education and intense Hungarian language instruction and tutoring to youth between the ages of 13 and 18. This age we feel is particularly at risk and the gaps within the Hungarian educational system do not meet the needs of these individuals, denying them their legal right to an education.
We also provide these young people with assistance with housing in dormitories if necessary, school supplies, books and anything else we can to help them succeed in school. In addition to this, we offer them social work support, counselling when needed, fellowship through social activities and familiarization with the culture and history of Hungary.
Those most at risk as refugees or foreigners in a new country and culture are children and women. Women are at risk for being taken advantage of and remaining isolated. The Nanny programme provides refugee women with intensive Hungarian language instruction and skills training. They are trained to be nannies in Hungarian preschools and nurseries. After successful completion of the programme, the women can receive a Basic Hungarian Language Exam Certificate and a Certificate in Pre-school Assistant Education.
This is a job in demand in Hungary and the women will most likely find jobs in pre-schools and nurseries. In addition to the practical aspects of language learning and job training, these women become part of a safe community, develop friendships and have people to turn to (social workers, teachers) for help in every day matters. The women are given a true chance to integrate into the job market and Hungarian society.
Through working in these areas of integration we have discovered and exposed gaps within the Hungarian refugee integration policy. We continue to address these issues to the relevant bodies and organizations and after three years, we have noticed a common approach developing among the other NGO's working with asylum seekers and refugees. This is making the raised voice advocating in the interest of equality and human rights louder in Hungary.
We are actively a part of gatherings of other NGO's in similar fields, conferences and seminars. We have received recognition for our work demonstrated by media exposure to our work.
Our programmes are financed by the European Social Fund, the European Integration Fund and the European Refugee Fund.
© Web Design : Kiwi Grafika