By Hungary Relief Team (Originally in Hungarian)
Conflict and instability have led hundreds of thousands of people to risk their lives, flee their homes and seek a safe haven in other countries, especially those in Europe. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least 533,000 refugees have reached European Union nations in 2015 so far. Hoping for a better future, many undertake harrowing journeys by boat or on foot to find new homes. Thus far in 2015, over 2,800 have lost their lives during their attempts to reach Europe. After arriving, refugees are in need of basic necessities and other assistance.
In response to Supreme Master Ching Hai’s compassionate instruction to do whatever we can to help the refugees, our Association members from Hungary quickly formed a relief team, with a total of US$15,132 used from Master’s funds and US$14,005 contributed by our Association members for the relief effort.
Due to the stoppage of trains going from Hungary to Western Europe, 1,000 refugees decided to walk from the Budapest Keleti train station along the highway to Austria. Upon hearing of their long walk, one of our Association members located the refugees just outside of Budapest, and brought them fruit juice to quench their thirst due to the warm weather. The recipients were deeply grateful for the refreshments. Many other Hungarian people also lined the highway to offer the new arrivals food and water.
In the evening, it was reported that 100 refugees had left a camp in Bicske, Hungary and were walking along the train tracks toward Austria. As they were approaching a village, our Association member who lived there quickly purchased 60 bottles of juice and 60 loaves of bread, helped by a friendly young Hungarian man. The refugees, who were extremely hungry, were grateful for the nourishment. After receiving his food and juice, one refugee looked our Association member in the eyes and tearfully said, “God bless you!” Our Association member was very touched by this expression of gratitude.
On this day, approximately 2,000 people were still camped out at Keleti train station, so our relief team supplied them with juice, food and raincoats. The juice was once again a popular item. The people were not as hungry as on the day before because several organizations and many local people were already helping them.
After lunchtime, our team did another round of shopping and again distributed supplies, including large-sized muesli bars, at Keleti. By then the refugees were well fed but the items were still welcomed. One of our team members had a conversation with a Syrian man who wanted to tell him about what had happened to his village in Syria, but the man halted as his eyes filled with tears.
In the afternoon the Hungarian government reached an agreement with Austrian officials to allow the trains to again pass freely. So after camping at the train station for several days, the people resumed their journey with great relief.
Five hundred refugees per hour were said to be heading along the highway in Macedonia to the Hungarian border. It was estimated that they would arrive around September 15, potentially creating a large bottleneck in Serbia, where facilities were scarce and nighttime temperatures were dropping.
Our relief team purchased a supply of polyfoam mattresses and blankets and delivered them to a warehouse in Budapest, from which volunteers would take them to Szeged, a town that refugees passed through each day.
Another team of our Association members took a van and car full of supplies to a place called Röszke on the Hungarian-Serbian border. The supplies included clothes, muesli bars, juice and water. At Röszke, many aid organizations and people from all over Europe were already helping the thousands of refugees that passed through daily. The response from the public was heartwarming.
At Röszke, part of our relief team rented a van and distributed 1,560 liters of fruit juice, 100 kilograms of warm clothes, 50 raincoats and a large supply of rubber boots to people standing in line for buses. The police also allowed our team members to board the buses and distribute items to people who were on the buses that were waiting to start.
During the day, our team visited two campsites, the first being the Ásotthalom site on the border. The site was neat and clean, with large UN tents for the refugees and UN volunteers in attendance supplying water and sandwiches for the residents. Our team distributed fruit, fruit juice and muesli bars to the people, andleft the remaining food with the UN volunteers for those who might arrive later.
The second camp was larger, holding approximately 200 people. Several aid groups were at the site, so the people were well taken care of. Our team distributed muesli bars to the refugees, volunteers and police officers to convey our love.
At night,our team went to the Röszke camp, where another team of our Association members also brought more food. A team member who was a pharmacist organized the supply of medicine in the camp’s medicine tent, and the physicians, including one vegan, were deeply grateful.
The rest of our team carried food in large bags to the train tracks and distributed supplies to arriving refugees.
One relief team went to Röszke camp and distributed juice and water, and four moreof our Association members joined them in the afternoon.
On this day, conditions in the camp improved as large garbage containers arrived, and the local trash collection companies cleaned up the sites. We also distributed muesli bars to the sanitation workers, who happily accepted the food. We then helped to pick up trash until dark.
In the afternoon, the border at the railroad tracks was closed, so people were no longer allowed into the camp. Those who continued to arrive were directed to the official crossing point, where they would be taken to the Röszke train station and proceed to Austria. We then went to the station where 10 buses and a train filled with people were waiting. Despite being tired and hungry, the refugees were smiling, and happy to be going to Austria. We distributed all the food we had with help from the police and the other volunteers.
September 25 to 27 and 30
Each day approximately 8,000 to 10,000 people were flowing through Hungary on trains to the Austrian town of Nickelsdorf, where they were then bussed to various locations. The 500 refugees per hour counted in Macedonia earlier in the month were now flowing through Hungary and Austria daily.
The Hungarian Red Cross cooperated with civil officials in the region to help the refugees. The police on the Hungarian side were happy to sample the vegan chocolates and muesli bars we brought.
Over the four days, we left approximately 8,000 chocolates and chocolate-coated muesli bars along a footpath so the refugees could take them as they approached the border. The chocolates, which were a favorite, could be easily transported during their journey.
During this period, one of our team members helped a male refugee call and arrange for his brother to meet him in Vienna. The man, who spoke no English but appeared to be from Afghanistan, was so grateful that he kissed our team member.
A discussion with a group of young Syrian men also revealed some of the many problems they faced. For example, even if they had money, they were unable to buy plane tickets from Turkey to Europe due to legal restrictions and the high cost of applying for a refugee visa from abroad. Also, renting a hotel in some countries required showing a letter from a local resident, and in other countries it was impossible, so they had to sleep outside in the cold.
We pray that the refugees will soon return to prosperous, peaceful and happy lives through God’s grace.
Expenditures by Supreme Master Ching Hai and Her International Association for Refugees Relief Work in Hungary
|Description||Amount (HUF)||Amount (USD)||Receipt|
|Tents, blankets and clothing||2,090,152.00||7,741.30|