Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH)
The Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH) is the second largest denomination – religious organisation, registered as Church, in Hungary. RCH has appr. 600,000 active members. RCH has 1,249 congregations (local communities) organized into 27 presbyteries, belonging to 4 districts. The RCH operates 129 educational institutions from kindergarten to university level, including 4 theological seminaries and a hospital. The RCH has around 390 Reformed diaconal services, serving 22,800 people in need. In its different fields of work RCH provides trainings for pastors, church members and professionals in their different capacities. RCH has thus extended experience in training adults especially in fields of Diaconia and Crisis intervention. We train and support hundreds of volunteers in our various charity branches, including Hungarian Reformed Church Aid and Kalunba Social Services Nonprofit Kft.
What are the activities and experience of the partner organisation in the areas relevant for this project? What are the skills and/or expertise of key persons involved in this project?
The history of the RCH’s Refugee Ministry goes back to the beginning of the 2000’s. The Refugee Ministry strives to integrate refugees into Hungarian culture through many different avenues, some of which have included its education, housing and nanny programs that were funded partly through the European Union. Recognized refugees have, according to the country’s legislation, equal rights and responsibilities as Hungarian citizens (aside from voting for the president), and through different activities the Refugee Ministry strives to make it possible for them to have access to these rights and overcome the gaps in the system. The education project assisted in the integration of young refugees into schools and supported their admission into integrated education, mainly to schools in Budapest.
The first integration project began in 2006; those who received refugee status had to find schools for their children, a job to support themselves, a home for their family to live in, and they needed to integrate into Hungarian society, all without speaking the native language of their new country.
In May 2013, the RCH Refugee Ministry started an after school program for migrant youth and with this new project the Ministry were finally able to open up a community centre for migrants and refugees in the heart of Budapest. In the community centre they provided room for individual and group lessons in Hungarian, for tutoring in various education programs with staff and with volunteer teachers, and they also ran a kitchen where several times a month they were able to cook together with the migrant and refugee clients. They wanted to create a community space where the clients would not only receive the opportunity to participate in long term social integration programs but where they could also find a place for comradery – a space where before and after their usual appointments they could also find friends whom they could socialize with. Our community rooms were frequently visited by Hungarian volunteers and mentors, therefore the community space was not only a place where refugees meet amongst themselves but where they also met members of the Hungarian population at large.
RCH Refugee Ministry is presently being operated under the umbrella of the Diaconal Office, in partnership with the non-profit organization called Kalunba Social Services Association, a charity established by the Refugee Ministry.
Thanks to the more flexible framework of working through the Kalunba Association, the nonprofit has been able to partner together with the Scottish Mission in Budapest in autumn 2015 to provide overnight accommodation for many refugee families, called the Salaam Overnight Shelter (SOS). Women with children were gathered from nearby railway stations based on intake interviews conducted by representatives from the Kalunba Association and refugees who translated (in this case, by “refugee” we mean those people who have already received asylum in Hungary). The conditions were explained to those receiving service that it was for only one night at a time, and that, due to their vulnerability, it was only for women and their children.
Many of the volunteers who participated in this overnight shelter were people who had received aid from the RHC Refugee Mission before themselves, and many were women; this helped the mothers and children to feel more safe and welcome and it also made them more open to asking questions and getting information from the volunteers.
In 2006 another vehicle for aid was created, Hungarian Reformed Church Aid founded by the Hungarian Reformed Church. Today the HRCA is the fourth largest Hungarian aid organization. Their focus is on the Carpathian-Basin, but there are several international projects in the works also. With 1,250 employees, we try to find and serve the most vulnerable people of society.
Thousands of refugees arrived to Hungary in an extremely short period of time. Exhausted and cold, asylum seekers arrived in cities in droves. The Hungarian Reformed Church Aid, in coordination with charity organizations already working on the ground, helped people residing in temporary collection points. The HRCA provided food, drinking water, and other immediate nutrition sources for those people in transition, as well as provided blankets, mattresses, and warm clothes for those who stayed overnight.
Official website of the Reformed Church in Hungary
In Hungarian: http://reformatus.hu/
In English: http://www.reformatus.hu/english/
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