A daily influx of thousands of refugees crossing the Hungarian border and heading for Austria and Germany have created an emergency situation which is difficult to manage. Then, there are people whose sense of humanity often wins out.
Viktoria Bakacsi and Laszlo Vizsolyi from the Focolare Movement in Hungary write: “Every day we encounter suffering under so many guises, right outside the doors of our homes. We listened to the words of Pope Francis and are now trying to put them into practice even more.”
“For months,” they write, “there has been a continual influx of refugees. Some two thousand people arrive in Hungary every day: families with children, exhausted. Despite the general chaos, many people are stepping out and giving a helping hand, people belonging to civic groups and church organisations.”
The Focolare Movement in Hungary has also gone to work. Viktoria and Laszlo continue: “We shared ideas and experiences and with the Apostolic Nuncio, Alberto Bottari de Castello, have become involved in gathering and coordinating efforts so that things can run more smoothly and efficiently. We are working closely with several religious orders, including the Jesuits who already have a program in place, and groups like the Community of Sant’Egidio, which not only has the infrastructure and experience, but also legal expertise. The work undertaken also aims at promoting openness and welcome through an educational program which we started during a summer camp with 230 young people.
Focolare members who are active in parish life go every day to the Keleti Train Station. One of them writes: “I’ve been in the midst of refugees for two months. There are a lot of us helping. There are so many children, such desperate people… I try to see the face of Jesus in each one of them, and this gives me strength. They are so grateful for every little help they receive, and the children rejoice over even the smallest gifts.”
A psychologist writes: “I try to share my professional skills by supporting the many volunteers.” A focolarino priest writes: “On Thursday we had our meeting with priests. After reading this month’s Word of Life, six of us went to the Station to help the people.” A young woman: “After the Youth for a United World Camp we went to the refugees to help care for the children. There were twenty of us. Around 70 children and families gathered around us, since we were dressed up as clowns. We played, drew pictures and found every way possible to communicate with them. Many of them don’t speak English, and many of them tried to teach us a few Arabic words. We will continue to go once a week.”
“We especially noticed the difficulty in communicating and the lack of information available. A focolarina who works in collaboration with the Association of the Order of Malta, started producing signs with useful information. She finds someone who speaks Arabic to translate them. We are also continuing to help out in Szeged where refugees are continually arriving. Besides our regular collections, we have been brought several boxes of leftover fruit. One of us, a police woman, goes to help the women and children in the camps at the end of her workday.”
“We realise that what we are doing is only a drop in the ocean,” they conclude, “but we wouldn’t want that drop to be missing.”