HEKS in Ungarn
Andreas Schwaiger
Hungary

The Reformed Church advocates for the disadvantaged

Hungary Country Programme

HEKS/EPER supports the Reformed Church in Hungary in developing projects for Roma children and young people and in its work for the inclusion of people with disabilities. An important component of this cooperation is the sharing of knowledge between Hungary and Switzerland through church parish partnerships, group trips or professional exchanges.

Context

With a 16-per cent share of the population and some 1,200 congregations, the Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH) is the country's second largest religious community and an important social institution. It is works to strengthen the Roma community and foster the inclusion of refugees, in this way fulfilling its social responsibility. As part of church cooperation, HEKS/EPER has maintained decades-long contact with the RCH, supporting it in its work for the benefit of Roma and refugees.

By nation-wide comparison, not only do the Roma have a markedly lower level of education, their community is affected by high poverty rates, poor job prospects and life expectancy that is 15 years lower. Living together with the majority population is also fraught with tension in some places. Unlike almost any other organization, the RCH parishes have the potential to build bridges and defuse tensions between population groups. HEKS/EPER supports Reformed parishes in developing projects to educate and help Roma children and adolescents shape their lives.

Building bridges is also crucial in dealing with refugees and migrants. For most Hungarians have only limited contact with people from a migration background and their perception of them is shaped by the often inflamed public discourse. HEKS/EPER therefore wishes to help the RCH build awareness in church congregations regarding the situation of refugees, facilitate encounters and foster inclusion for refugees.

Objectives, priorities, activities

  • Remedial lessons intended to improve the educational opportunities of Roma children and young people as well as facilitate the integration of refugee children into the school system.
  • Courses on lifestyle choices designed to equip Roma children and young people to cope with various challenges of everyday life and develop perspectives for their own lives.
  • Reformed schools, which are often regarded as elite schools in Hungary, will be assisted in integrating young Roma.
  • RCH congregations are being sensitized to the situation of refugees.
  • Reformed congregations are building bridges between communities through specific programmes for Roma and for refugees, face-to-face meetings and joint events. Volunteers are being trained for participation in local projects to foster inclusion for Roma and refugees.
HEKS in Ungarn
Andreas Schwaiger

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