The Refugee Ministry of the Reformed Church in Hungary is organized under the Unit for Refugee Integration/Mission, which is part of the Hungarian Reformed Churh Aid (HRCA). The Refugee Ministry has been working with the support of international partners of RCH, in close cooperation with its implementing partner, the Kalunba Social Services Non-Profit organisation since 2016.
Since the time of the Reformation, the church has aided asylum seekers and refugees. In the 20th century, following the collapse of Communism, the Church provided aid to ethnic Hungarians arriving from Romania and the former Yugoslavia. After 1998, when the geographical restriction to the Geneva Convention was lifted, Hungary started receiving non-European asylum applicants as well. Thus, the main purpose of the Unit for Refugee Integration is to provide assistance, comfort and fellowship to anyone in need regardless of nationality, race, religion or social position through partnership with Kalunba Social Services Nonprofit Ltd. Our overall vision and strategy is to assist Hungarian society in "welcoming the stranger" and accepting "newcomers" as brothers and sisters. We aim not only to help with material goods but also to provide helpers who see to spiritual and psycho-social needs, welcoming the newcomers into a supportive community.
With its constantly developing methodology, the Hungarian Reformed Church Aid (HRCA) of the Reformed Church in Hungary aims to support the service of Reformed diaconal institutions, in order to remain up-to-date on the most recent changes in managerial and financial environments. Being supported by the HRCA, these institutions are able to continuously familiarize themselves with quality professional models and also participate in professional workshops, which make the HRCA the perfect location for the church’s refugee integration work, which is constantly changing and adapting to new circumstances in Hungary. The Reformed diaconal institutions are constantly provided with the up-to-date information necessary for a productive and high-level operation, making this ministry on the cutting edge of integration work in Hungary.
This refugee integration work is coordinated through the RCH under the HRCA’s Unit for Refugee Integration. The Head of the Unit is Mr. László Zságer, who is supported by the Coordinator Ms Angela Canadey, a position supported by HEKS. The General Implementing Partner is Kalunba Social Services Nonprofit Ltd., led by CEO Balázs Acsai. Working with an on-the-ground organization helps the HRCA to provide crucial practical support and function in the most efficient way in its refugee integration efforts.
The three main activities of the Refugee Ministry are assisting refugees to access safe housing, helping refugees to further their education and gain employment, and teaching Hungarian in a professional and practical manner to facilitate integration.
- The housing project handles the residential matters of refugees. For participating families, the programme searches for sublets and finances their rent, so that after moving out they can live on their own with their savings, along with the help of their Hungarian connections. This gives families a greater sense of independence and helps them to lead more full and well-rounded lives.
- Kalunba helps to integrate youth into local schools, mainly in Budapest. Participating students and families are helped by Kalunba’s social workers, who show them how to handle official matters and provide the educational support necessary for students to be successful in school. Additional educational opportunities are available to older persons who may need specialized training for employment.
- The Hungarian language project aims to facilitate the integration of refugees in Hungary though professional and accredited language courses. The classes are run by certified teachers and seek to prepare clients for life in Hungary for the long-term.
Church Cooperation with HEKS/EPER
HEKS, the Aid Organization of the Swiss Protestant Churches has been supporting RCH’s Refugee Ministry since 2017 in the framework of the strategic Church Cooperation program. Joint projects in awarness raising, training and inclusion programs supporting Refugee children and families is one of the two priorities of the Church Cooperation between HEKS and RCH, beside integration of Roma. The current project period started in 2021 and ends in 2024. The 4 years period in the framework of the so called Country Program started on the 1st of January 2021 and one of its primary goals is to promote the Life Perspectives and Inclusion of Refugees in Hungary.
The RCH recognizes these issues and seeks to play a larger role in the inclusion and care of refugees in Hungary. In the past project cycle the RCH with the help of HEKS/EPER and the partnership of Kalunba Social Services Ltd was able to take ownership for its refugee ministry, to maintain its vital services through these difficult years and to remain one of the few significant actors in Hungary in the inclusion of refugees. After the successful completion of the previous four-year project cycle, RCH continues its commitment for the refugee ministry and takes over the responsibility for implementing the social and educational inclusion program, while Kalunba’s focus will be on the support of adults’ vocational development and employment.
The objective of this project is to develop the commitment, structures and capacities of and within the Reformed Church in Hungary for the inclusion of refugees and migrants, both by supporting the inclusion of refugees and migrants through an educational program and social work and by sensitizing church members and influencing the public narrative about refugees in Hungary.
Quote from the HEKS Country Program
Approved project proposal for the cooperation between RCH and HEKS for the period of 2021-2024