Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Hungarian Refugee Relief Continues
By Gandharvika prema dasi   |  Mar 01, 2022
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The last few days have been intense in the Food for Life kitchen in Budapest, Hungary, a small country in the middle of Europe. The devotees now cook more than on an average peaceful day, when they usually take hundreds of plates of food to homeless shelters, in-need families, and the elderly all over the capital and other parts of Hungary. Now they doing more so that they can provide hot meals to those who fled from Ukraine.

The devotees started helping refugees on Sunday, Feb 27th, 2022, by feeding Indian students, who arrived at the Hungarian airport straight from Ukraine by bus and were on their way to take a charter flight back to India.

The next day the Food for Life “meals on wheels” vehicle was again packed with 300 plates of cooked food, bread, apples, bananas, and snacks heading toward Tiszabecs, a town at the Ukrainian-Hungarian border. Over 500,000 people have already left Ukraine, all of them trying to get through the few neighboring European countries. Tiszabecs, a town of only 1700 residents is one of the 5 open crossing points, and it has now been flooded by a huge mass of people over the last few days.

Tiszabecs, Hungary Feb 27th, 2022 Photo c/o: Tas Balogh

The queue of the refugees’ cars at the border stretches to 40 kilometers, and by now the small villages nearby have totally run out of supplies and are not able to provide any wares to people in transit. In the cars, there are a lot of babies, kids, youth, and their mothers. Men between 18 and 60 years of age are not allowed to leave Ukraine.

Tiszabecs, Hungary Feb 27th, 2022 Photo c/o: Tas Balogh

After they cross the border volunteers immediately support them with a package of food and water, but many of them just want a good shower. There are people from other developing countries as well, who have no relatives or friends at all in Hungary, do not speak the local language, don’t know the system here, and are totally helpless.

But there are literally hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers and many charities present at all the crossing points. Tables full of baby food, diapers, snacks, hot tea, and other necessary and useful items and tools are offered right next to the crossing point, and volunteers are holding boards in their hands writing “3 seats to Budapest”, “5 seats to Debrecen”. The whole country is in the mood for help, people are sending all kinds of presents from all over the country to the borders.

Tiszabecs, Hungary Feb 27th, 2022 Photo c/o: Tas Balogh

Food for Life nicely fits into this system with its pre-portioned cooked food, which is a big help for those who have been on the road for days, having not eaten anything hot. The local mayor, his staff, and all other locals try to coordinate the unprecedented emergency situation like heroes, with lots of fatherly love and motherly care for people who they don’t even know, and they quickly find empty stomachs ready to be filled with our prasadam. The locals – along with many inhabitants of the township – had not been sleeping for days, just like the very thoughtful, talented, and resourceful heroic leader of the Hungarian Food for Life Program, Bhakta-vatsala dasa.

Many of the refugees spend a couple of days at this place, waiting for their relatives or friends to pick them up. There are buses and tents in which they can heat themselves up in the winter cold, and also buildings (schools, cultural centers, etc.), where they can stay overnight and let their kids sleep.

Tiszabecs, Hungary Feb 27th, 2022 Photo c/o: Tas Balogh

The mayor pleaded with the devotees, to come back and bring food because hot food is a rare gift in such a tough situation. On Tuesday devotees are getting back again to Tiszabecs with even more food than before.

In the meantime, hundreds of Indian students are arriving in Budapest, gathering downtown with the help of the Embassy and Bharatiya Samaj of Hungary, and are waiting for the next flight back to India. They are also happy and grateful to have a warm welcome and a hot dinner made to please the Indian taste by the Food for Life devotees.

Since huge waves of refugees hit Hungary today, Food for Life services will be needed in more and more places all over the country. In Debrecen, where the humanitarian air bridge goes through, devotees also deployed a Food for Life team to be able to provide hot meals to those who are leaving Europe through the airport there. Another city in the Eastern side of Hungary, Eger, has a very active Food for Life mission, and they are also going to join the combined effort because devotees in Budapest will be soon needed in their home city after the number of refugees increases in the capital day by day. Homeless shelters and other public amenities in the city are turned into reception centers for refugees, where devotees will be able to give some relief and hope to traumatized women and kids by their care in the form of a plate of cooked food offered to Krishna and made with lots of love.

 

Donations for Hungarian Food For life relief can be sent to the following bank account:
Account holder: Ételt az Életért Alapítvány
IBAN HU55 1030 0002 1063 1840 4902 0019
BIC/SWIFT code: MKKB HU HB
Donate now: www.eteltazeletert.hu

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