De Junno Arocho Esteves
BUDAPEST, Hungary (CNS) – As thousands of Ukrainian refugees continue to cross the Hungarian border, Keleti Railway Station in Budapest has become a central hub on their way to escape violence and seek a sense of normalcy in the midst of chaos. .
For the past two weeks, religious organizations and other charities such as Caritas Hungary, the Knights of Malta and the Red Cross have distributed food, clothing and other items to the ongoing waves of refugees coming through the station, which is always crowded.
The hustle and bustle at the train station was not different on March 12, as various charities distributed much-needed food and basic supplies not only to refugees in Ukraine, but also to the poor and homeless in the city who arrived at the train station in search of help.
“No one is denied help here,” said Mark, a volunteer working for Caritas Hungary, who preferred to give only his first name.
A group of volunteers quickly distributed bags of food and other goods to those who approached. A young Roma woman sitting at the table, however, set her eyes on a small plush toy, but remained silent. Observing the girl, a volunteer smiled and handed her the toy with some candy, which she gladly accepted.
Mark told the Catholic News Service that the crisis was far from a burden for Hungarians who intervened to help those in need.
Volunteers who have volunteered to help, he said, “have to wait their turn because every job is taken by the end of March.”
“The response from society and the local Catholic and Christian community has been massive and beautiful,” Mark told CNS. “I am truly proud to be a Christian, not just a Catholic, but one of the Christian realities that have responded so overwhelmingly.
“There is no fragmented Hungary,” he added. “There is no area of the public that is not engaged in this case.”
mons. Tamás Tóth, secretary general of the Hungarian Episcopal Conference, said the war in neighboring Ukraine was a “horrible surprise”, but the country’s bishops “immediately saw that we had things to do”.
mons. Tóth told CNS on March 12 that the country’s bishops are grateful for the financial and material support that both Christians and non-Christians have given to Catholic charities at the forefront of the refugee crisis.
“There is a real solidarity that the bishops appreciate so much,” he said.
mons. Tóth told CNS that the solidarity inspired by the crisis was noticed by Canadian Cardinal Michael Czerny during his visit to the country on March 9-11. The cardinal, he recalled, “told us that the reception of the refugees was very well organized.”
Cardinal Czerny, he said, “saw that there was a collaboration of our people here and said that a crisis situation like this can really bring so much goodwill and goodwill from the people. He really appreciated how many offered to help. “
The cardinal also sounded the alarm about the possibility of refugees – mainly women and children – becoming victims of human trafficking. mons. Tóth said Catholic humanitarian workers had not heard of any trafficking, but were prepared to contact civilian authorities if any.