The RCH has been working with refugees since 2006, and in the beginning of 2017 the Refugee Ministry was reorganized in order to have a bigger impact on clients in need. The ministry now falls under the umbrella of the RCH Diaconal Office and partners with a local implementing partner, Kalunba Social Services Ltd, in the work to integrate recognized refugees into life in Hungary.
The RCH has been working with refugees since 2006 with the founding of its Refugee Ministry. In recent years, this work has become more publicized as rates of human migration have increased. Over the last few years, Hungary has become a hotspot transit zone for persons looking to make their way to Western Europe. The RCH has been actively involved in aiding these persons who travel through Hungary as well as those who seek to make the nation their home. 2015 saw a large increase in the emergency response capacity of the Hungarian Reformed Church Aid as they sought to respond quickly and efficiently to the needs of thousands of refugees in the country by providing much needed shelter, clothing, toiletries, and food. At the same time, the RCH supported its implementing partner, Kalunba Social Services Ltd, in their work to integrate recognized refugees into Hungary.
After Kalunba Ltd was established in 2014, cooperation has been in place and in times when European Union funds were not available, the RCH proved its commitment in appealing to partners for financial support for Kalunba's activities. The RCH has issued statements repeatedly stressing the Church's and Government's responsibility in providing proper information and humanitarian aid to refugees. Besides advocacy, the RCH, together with Kalunba, hosted a European partner consultation in June 2016 to facilitate deepened discussion with Reformed Churches.
It was thus not without precedence that the RCH's Presidium answered the 2016 letter written by HEKS Director Andreas Kessler positively and committed to actively participate in the evaluation workshop of the Country Program and the planning of the future priorities of the cooperation between HEKS and RCH. The Presidium was represented in the workshop and supported the idea of highlighting the Refugee Integration project as the second priority in the upcoming Country Program for 2017-2020. In this spirit, they signed a Memorandum of Agreement and have since then mandated the Ecumenical Office, the Refugee Integration Unit of the Diaconal Office, and Kalunba with the development of a specific Project Proposal. The draft of the proposal was sent to the Church leadership in December 2016 and in the same week, the Diaconal Office signed the agreement of cooperation with Kalunba in order to provide the necessary framework for the cooperation with HEKS.
Through this new partnership, an adjusted model of work and cooperation has been created and the structure of the RCH’s Refugee Ministry has been reorganized within the church. Instead of working under the Reformed Mission Center, as it used to, the Refugee Ministry is now organized under the umbrella of the church’s Diaconal Office. With its constantly developing methodology, the Diaconal Office 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 Diaconal Office, these institutions are able to continuously familiarize themselves with quality professional models and also participate in professional workshops. The Reformed diaconal institutions are constantly provided with the current information necessary for a productive and high-level operation.
Based on this, the work will be coordinated through the RCH under the Diaconal Office’s Unit for Refugee Integration. The Head of the Unit is Ms. Dora Kanizsai, and the General Implementing Partner is Kalunba Social Services Nonprofit Ltd, led by CEO Balázs Acsai.
The RCH looks forward to this new structure of partnership between the church and its partners on the ground providing vital integration services to refugees in Hungary.
Article by Kearstin Bailey