The North American Women’s Association’s November general meeting traditionally focuses on its signature charity programs – bingo with the seniors, Adopt-a-Granny and Mikulas – and on preparing the Mikulas (St Nicholas’ Day) gift bags that every year are distributed to the elderly of two senior homes and to the children in an orphanage in Budapest.
This year, the tradition continued but with a broader perspective. We still filled our 312 gift bags, but we also extended our invitation to other charitable groups in Hungary to talk to our members about their role and work in our community.
After our three NGO representatives spoke about their work to our members, a little surprise awaited them. This year NAWA decided that money raised at past fundraising events would be shared evenly among these NGOs to further their work. The Salvation Army will use our donation to buy sets of dishes for the two kitchens in the Transitional Home for Elderly Women in Bajnok utca housing 50 residents. The Romedia Foundation will use the money for a five-week photojournalism training for two Roma women in Szendrõlád, in north- eastern Hungary, as part of their I Am A Roma Woman campaign, while MigHelp will use the funds so that eight migrant women can continue their English lessons in the Bicske refugee camp (about 30 kilometres west of Budapest).
The Salvation Army works to bridge the gap between the needs of the community and those of the local governments. While providing support to the needy they also teach and encourage members of the local community to continue this work.
In Budapest they are currently working on refurbishing their headquarters (District VI) into a transitional home for elderly women who are awaiting a place in one of the state-run homes for seniors. In District XVII, they work with local community members to provide refuge and rehabilitation to women needing to learn or refresh their life skills. Some of these women have come out of the justice system and need to integrate back into the community and workforce. Others are homeless and seek help to make an independent life, while still others come from difficult home situations and are looking for refuge and direction. Also in District XVII, the Salvation Army provides a mothers’ home as a refuge for women and their children from abusive homes, while in District VIII they offer food and temporary shelter to homeless men in the men’s hostel, and serve hot soup and bread every Thursday at Keleti Train Station.
Migrants’ Help Association of Hungary (MigHelp) is an NGO established by refugees and their supporters in Budapest that helps empower refugees and migrants and to facilitate their integration into Hungarian society.
They work with migrants who have been granted permanent status in Hungary, as well as with those still in the process of gaining their status. MigHelp aims to help migrants help themselves by identifying their real needs and frustrations, and working together with them to achieve attainable and sustainable solutions.The participants have many pressing needs – lack of practical job skills, language skills, and proper integration strategies – and need information to help them assimilate and make Hungary their new home. MigHelp and its small group of committed supporters is discovering how to address some of these needs. There is still much to accomplish.
The Romedia Foundation is a Roma non-governmental organisation based in Budapest that seeks to create more positive perceptions of the Romani people, combat anti-Roma prejudice, and provide alternative information to policy makers through the production of films and videos, international multi-media campaigns and public events.
Romedia helps empower Romani activists to challenge centuries-old prejudices against the Roma and promotes the potential of reconciliation and acceptance of diversity. They believe that civil society, by expanding its diversity of partnerships and setting up concrete positive initiatives, can challenge entrenched storylines so that differences are not seen as inherently threatening, and start a process that changes old stereotypes and shapes a new narrative that better reflects changes in contemporary society.
Help us help others
NAWA is committed to supporting both its signature charities as well as supporting other worthy causes in our host country. We are in the process of organising more fundraising activities and ask that you support our endeavours to reach out to our community. For more information, go to www.nawabudapest.com