By Vienna, Austria News Group (Originally in German)
September to October 2015
As thousands of refugees were arriving in Vienna, Austria, the city’s train station became a hub for those fleeing from countries including Syria, Afghanistan, and Eritrea. Although most of the refugees stayed at the train station for just a couple of days, each day hundreds more arrived from Hungary.
Many different organizations in the country acted quickly to provide the most necessary supplies for the refugees. For example, Caritas Austria coordinated the relief work at the train station and provided fruits, drinks and other things that were needed such as clothes and hygienic items. The Austrian Railway Company (ÖBB) offered covered car parks, offices and other rooms, and transported refugees by extra trains or buses every day from Nickelsdorf, on the Hungarian-Austrian border, to Vienna, and from Vienna to Salzburg and further to Germany.
Deeply concerned about the refugees in Austria, Supreme Master Ching Hai contributed US$20,000 and instructed our Association members to render assistance. In September and October 2015, our Vienna relief team distributed warm meals to the refugees at the train station in Vienna, Austria using Master’s fund along with contributions from our Vienna Association members. We served rice with vegetables and beans, as well as pasta with tomato sauce and vegetables. The refugees were very grateful for the food, as many had not eaten warm meals for weeks. Loving Hut Vienna Neubau and Loving Hut Vienna Favoriten worked together, providing this nutritious vegan food.
It was not easy to estimate the amount of food needed in advance because the refugees were being transported to other destinations rather quickly, so we worked closely with Caritas and the local authorities. There were times when people from Caritas graciously helped us to coordinate the big rush at our food serving counter and to distribute hundreds of meal boxes to the hungry people in a few minutes. During peak days, we cooked and distributed up to 1,000 meals. Our six large rice cookers ran for many hours.
Our relief team was the only one distributing warm meals at the train station, but later other organizations began to do it. Now with fewer refugees coming to the train station, we will expand our relief work to help sustain those refugees who have found accommodations in Vienna and the surrounding areas. We will be on standby to provide more assistance if the situation changes in the future.
In November 2015, although just a few new refugees arrived at the Austrian borders, those staying in camps still needed urgent help. Thus, our Vienna relief team contacted a camp in the district of Simmering in Vienna to find out their needs. On November 29, we served warm vegan food there, including stew for up to 400 people and a simple rice dish for approximately 350-400 people. The refugees were very thankful for this additional treat, as they received warm food just once a day. We also continued to frequently bring food to 100-150 refugees staying at an accommodation near the train station in Vienna.
We were happy to see the children in the camp being cared for by a charitable organization called Volkshilfe Wien (Help for People Vienna) which helped the children cope with their trauma through drawing. We decided to provide further assistance to them whenever there is an opportunity.
Our deep gratitude to Master for Her love and compassion for all the refugees, and our warm appreciation to Austria, and all organizations in Austria, assisting the many families and individuals searching for a safe environment in which to live.
May Heaven bless all the refugees. We pray for their safety as they travel, and that they can quickly find homes and begin their new lives.
September to November 2016
From September to November 2016, after there was a decrease in the number of new refugees arriving at Vienna train stations, our Austria Association members extended kind assistance to the refugees staying at a temporary camp in Wien Simmering. We had the opportunity to cook vegan meals a few times for those in the camp, and later we delivered vegan basic food items, such as noodles, rice, lentils, fruits and vegetables from the organic farm of one of our Association members. The meals we served included pumpkin goulash, rice and vegetables, pasta with tomato sauce and hearty vegetable stew.
Eighty young men and one family staying at Wien Simmering were relocated to an apartment house. We continued to support them with vegan food deliveries, which included basic food items and organic and seasonal vegetables. In the beginning, we cooked for the refugees a few times until they were more adjusted. We also contributed dishes, and various kitchen supplies. In addition, some of us cooked for different refugee accommodations near Vienna West Station when needed.
Expenditures by Supreme Master Ching Hai for Refugee Relief Work in Vienna, Austria (September to November 2015 and September to November 2016)
|Food (rice, vegetables, beans, pasta, tomato, fruits and drinks), warm clothes for men and women, tents, blankets, hot water bottles, kitchen supplies and utensils for serving food to the refugees, and expenses for printing T-shirts, flyers and information boards||16,629.94||A|
|Cash contribution to Train of Hope||500||B|
|Tents, blankets, kitchen supplies (dishes, rice cooker, heat-retaining box and cans, boxes for noodles, wooden spoons, cutlery and a machine for hot drinks) and food (rice, vegetables, beans, pasta, tomatoes and drinks)||487.75||C|
|Total|| EUR 17,617.69