The Transcarpathian Action Plan
Carpathian sense of mission
Our Charity Service considers the Carpathian Basin as a primary area of activity, in the spirit of universal Hungarian Reformed responsibility across national boundaries. Thanks to developments, however, we have now territorial limits behind us and do relief and development work on several parts of the world.
One of the strengths of our organization is that the centuries-old ecclesiastical institutional system is actively used by our relief and development work. More than 1200 congregations are available in the Carpathian Basin, 102 in Transcarpathia and the associated institutions are available. Of course, these ecclesiastical institutions help our work not only with local information background but they make infrastructure background, experts and tools available for us. One of the most typical example was the case of the flood of Danube in 2013 when our Charity Service used the kitchen of all institutions along the Danube to provide catering background.
Our Foundation is constantly working on the ground and continuously monitoring the situation since the political crisis. Our Foundation’s management is regularly engaged in discussions with heads of Transcarpathian districts, municipalities and NGOs.
Since the end of 2013 the amount of relief supplies to the area had to be raised continuously as the impact of the political crisis has launched the development of a growing economic crisis. In summer 2014 fightings in the areas of Eastern Ukraine clearly had their impact both in economy and in people’s everyday lives.
Our Foundation decided to broadly assess the situation and to draw up an action plan with heads of districts, municipalities and NGOs. Our Transcarpathian work was made of course based on ecclesiastical resources and consulted with the Church leadership.
The jointly developed and approved Action Plan contained the following main elements.
- intervention stocks deposition: 52 209 000 HUF
- heating converting at 66 locations: 27 232 950 HUF
- stove and firewood supply and distribution: 16 500 000 HUF
- operation of crisis cuisine: 26 250 000 HUF
- installment of militia: 1 900 000 HUF
- IN TOTAL: 124 091 950 HUF
Our Foundation is constantly working on the implementation of the Action Plan. More and more supporters are joining our appeal, and fundraising is taking place in more and more communities. Our employees spend several days a week on the scene to guide and coordinate the work carried out across the border. Our aid deliveries are departing and arriving to the target area several times a week.
Donate warehouses are set up in Barabás and Záhony which are a few kilometers from the border crossing point in Beregsurány. The warehouse is important from a logistical aspect because a part of material donations collected in our country is delivered here before shipping. On the other side of the border we have more warehouses in Beregszász which are able to receive both the declared aid deliveries and the deliveries before clearance.
Sustainable food, bathroom products, cleaners, clothing and other basic necessities are delivered and distributed weekly in 1-1.5 million HUF. So our organization has delivered donations to the target area in more than 45 million HUF since the launch of the Action Plan.
Though we didn’t know in autumn 2014 yet that if that is difficult but the gas supply will be provided in the region. Therefore, we prepared the conversion of gas heating to solid fuel boilers in 66 public buildings. This program was implemented in full. 66 boilers were delivered, supplied and commissioned providing an opportunity for heating by a possible gas shortage. However, there was no gas shortage but the Ukrainian government raised the price of gas by 160% in several steps so the boilers will serve not only a secure background but conservation purposes as well.
Stove and firewood supply
As the gas supply is provided, making this program element be pushed mostly into the background. Apart from a few case – for now – there was no need for purchase and distribution of stoves.
Operation of crisis cuisine
In Beregszász and Derc we are doing catering for 350 people daily in collaboration with the Reformed Diaconal Center and distributing 700 freshly baked breads weekly among those in need. In summer 2014 we renovated the bakery from about 12.8 million HUF which is suitable for baking of 3500 breads daily if needed. For operation of crisis cuisine nearly 10 million HUF support was delivered in total so far.
Hospitals and health care facilities
The Action Plan had to be modified several times because the last nearly half a year developed the needs in another way in more fields. More requests came to us from the local heads that hospitals are very poor in terms of consumables. Thus, during our first action we supplied consumable items in half a million HUF for the military and public hospital in Munkács, and then we decided on the basis of accurate information from the scene that we immediately supply another delivery in 4.5 million HUF to the scene. The delivered relief material could cover the needs of the district for a while.
Relief supplies with 20-ton trucks are currently under delivery whose entire content is hospital equipment, sheets, medical and surgical clothing, etc. The value of the delivery is more than 10 million HUF. The international medical team of our Foundation worked at the scene. On the first hand, we examined children with disability and made their therapeutic recommendations, on the other hand, we consulted with the professional staff of the hospital in Munkács what to do next.
The support of local farmers and the fact of the continuity of crop-harvesting are extremely important. We and the heads of the local Hungarian community considered it as a critical aspect that the farmers choose staying, cropping and looking ahead instead of moving, escaping and giving up. It was therefore our highly important activity to support agricultural entrepreneurs, farmers and family farmers with seed and fertilizer. In the recent months we delivered high quality seeds in more than 14 million HUF to the farmers by favour of the largest domestic seed distributors.
Support for veteran families
The conscription might be an issue with the biggest fear factor in Transcarpathia today. Families don’t know exactly when men are taken for military service. Those who are taken are held in limbo by military leaders. These families are not only under psychological burden but by falling out of the “breadwinner” a serious financial crisis develops in families. Therefore, we and the local leaders decided that the family of men with actual front-duty has received regular support for 6 months (possibility of extension reserved).
In the last months we had to help 248 families in this way. Feedbacks are very positive because families see not only the “aid” in donations but the Hungarian people’s concern, care and attention. Many mothers need a smaller-longer conversation by delivery. Thus, starting from March, we’ll deliver grants to homes of a major part of families to allow personal conversations.
In this program we pay attention with priority that not only families of Hungarian origin get support. The rate of Hungarian families in the program is currently 25%.
The biggest difficulty is still the customs support of material donations on the Ukrainian side.
We believe that continuous on-site work is very much needed. Europe’s largest political-economic crisis may take place today whose impacts on daily lives are tangibly felt in the Transcarpathian region inhabited by Hungarians as well. Our Action Plan is working well under constant revision but according to our experiences. Donations were delivered and distributed exceeding the planned 124 million HUF, overall in about 185 million HUF. According to our memorandum and articles of association we do our work regardless of race, nationality, gender, religion and political affiliation. These aspects are particularly important to us in such a sensitive situation. That is why we hold intercourse with the Ukrainian leaders as well as with our country’s diplomatic representatives delegated to the scene.
We hope for a peaceful resolution of the crisis as soon as possible but at the moment we see that even in case of a rapid peaceful resolution the current economic crisis has pushed back the economic and livelihood perspectives for years.
Beregszász – soup kitchen
Thanks to the support and collaboration of several communities soup kitchen will be set up in Beregszász. HDF offered a “goulash cannon” which has already been delivered. Purchasing the necessary tools to start the soup kitchen (tents, benches, tables) is in progress. The kitchen is expected to launch within a few weeks.
In collaboration with the Charity Council of the Ministry of Human Capacities the largest domestic aid organizations collected eight truckloads of aid deliveries. Four trucks went to Ivano-Frankivsk, another four to Transcarpathia. The Hungarian Reformed Church Aid did the logistics and customs support of the total aid delivery in Hungary, and the Diaconal Office of the Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary the cross-border administration. It’s important to emphasize because in an interstate project only our Foundation and the Diaconal Office were willing and able to manage such a huge aid delivery professionally and efficiently. Completion of the job brought a significant professional recognition for organizations of our Church in professional circles and among leaders and staff of ministries responsible for the case (Ministry of Human Capacities, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade).
The amount of aid arriving in the area is continuously growing. In some places it exceeds the required amount. Our Church’s local management and heads of the communities unanimously suggested in the recent years that instead of aid we start to implement development programs that help and encourage the staying of the Hungarian population. Therefore, we are working on the implementation of the following projects:
- Fancsika – roof replacement and renovation of the Reformed kindergarten
- Kukja – necessity of drilling and creation of new wells since there is absolutely no water in the community
- Beregszász – development and operation of soup kitchen
Creation of a Hungarian Reformed Church Aid’s office
After several discussions our Foundation’s management decided that in cooperation with the Diaconal Center of the Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary we start a permanent office in July in Beregszász. The office staff (initially one person) will coordinate the Transcarpathian programs of the Hungarian Reformed Church Aid. Its tasks will be:
- close liaison with the Diaconal Office
- receiving and forwarding of requests for assistance to the center
- managing donations of the Hungarian Reformed Church Aid (canning, packing in case of need)
- organizing the Hungarian Reformed Church Aid’s programs (distributions, meetings)
- realizing the Hungarian Reformed Church Aid’s projects (eg. roof replacement of kindergarten Fancsika, Kukja well drilling, survey of the families of a four-story house, etc.)
- contact with students of the Nyilas Misi Scholarship, administration (100 children from Transcarpathia from September!!!)
- administration of aid deliveries (gift letters, Ukrainian customs, etc.)
Beyond the serious improvement in efficiency, launching the office has too much prestige value since the larger national aid organizations has operated permanent offices in Transcarpathia for years. So our Foundation which is currently the most active in the area can help in crisis situations not only with work but with constant presence, information flows and rapid response.