By Hungary Relief Team (Originally in Hungarian)
In early June 2013, thousands of soldiers, Red Cross workers and professional and volunteer firefighters from across Hungary worked together day and night to protect the country from the devastating floods that had swept through central Europe days earlier.
Seeing the catastrophic flooding in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, Hungarian officials immediately mobilized an army of 20,000 military personnel, reservists and citizens to shore up levees along the Danube so that the expected river surges would be stemmed, thus preventing a major crisis.
Hungarians of all ages, including high school students and well-known celebrities and athletes joined in the effort, reinforcing earth and sandbag barriers in an area stretching more than 700 kilometers along the rapidly rising Danube.
Upon learning of the situation, Supreme Master Ching Hai contributed EUR 5,000 and compassionately urged our local Association members to purchase supplies and conduct a relief effort. To determine the area of greatest need, a team from the Hungary Center contacted the Red Cross Country Coordinator and learned of the desperate need for food to support the vast number of relief workers, particularly during night shifts.
With Master’s generous fund and some of an additional EUR 500 contributed by our Association members, our team purchased vegan food and snacks, and other supplies to help the workers. On June 5, we provided 180 warm vegan meals along with energy bars, waterproof boots and raincoats to the Red Cross for distribution to soldiers and firefighters on Margaret Island in Budapest.
The following day we delivered vegan food for 400 firefighters in Budakalász, north of Budapest, who had been without food and water since beginning their shift.
On June 7, we brought a supply of veggie ham, coffee, chocolate, bananas and energy bars to the Red Cross in Tatabánya, east of Budapest, which then distributed the items to workers in the field.
On the morning of Saturday, June 8, we transported waterproof rubber boots, raincoats and work gloves to the Red Cross’s main storage room, the distribution hub for the various work sites along the Danube and its tributaries. We also prepared 400 vegan sandwiches for delivery that day.
On Monday, June 10, the River Danube reached record-high levels in Budapest before receding. However, the city escaped damage and no lives were lost. Thus, Hungary’s well-orchestrated emergency-response initiative was a success, and both the Hungarian Prime Minister, His Excellency Viktor Orbán and the Mayor of Budapest, the Honorable István Tarlós, expressed relief and gratitude. That Monday and the following day, we prepared more plant-based meals for the tired workers. A total of 200 portions of warm food and 200 sandwiches were delivered to Érd and Kisapostag on Monday and 200 servings of goulash and bread were distributed in Budapest on Tuesday.
Our relief team was grateful for the efficient system established by Hungary’s flood-relief taskforce. The National Directorate for Disaster Management and the Red Cross were the main organizations coordinating the relief effort. Throughout the effort, we maintained contact with the Red Cross. Where it was possible, we delivered the supplies directly; otherwise, we gave them to the Red Cross, which distributed them on our behalf. And although we had limited volunteers, this well-managed system allowed us to reach many people.
Supreme Master Ching Hai has always been deeply concerned about the well-being of vulnerable individuals around the globe. We are grateful to be able to assist Her in this effort. We pray that more people worldwide will soon adopt the compassionate, vegan lifestyle so that such events as this will be averted in the future.
Expenditures by Supreme Master Ching Hai and Her International Association
for Flood Relief Work in Hungary
|Vegan food, snacks and warm meals for the workers||2,400||A|
|Supplies (rubber boots, raincoats, work gloves and blankets) for the workers||2,450||B|
|Travel expenses for our relief team||195||C|