Annual Report – 2020
In the life of Hungarian Interchurch Aid, the year 2020 was different from the previous ones. We kept our promise to which we committed ourselves in spring: we did not let go of the hand of the needy during the pandemic. Everything had to be rethought; we have learnt how to be there for those in need in the pandemic situation by showing them a human face behind the masks. In addition to the operation of our services to help people in need and distress, and the emergency aid programmes, the development activities continued during the pandemic as well: expanding our network of institutions, modernizing social and development centres, making them environmentally friendly and sustainable.
Along with the spectacular constructions, the development of the organization also continued in the “background”: with a renewing structure, the unification of the professional work of the institutions in the spirit of conservative values, and the promotion of a more efficient operation of the aid organization by introducing new systems.
Like here in Hungary, the pandemic brought unexpected challenges to our offices in Ukraine and Iraq. Our staff members implementing longer-term programmes have faced new challenges, and our planned activities have been supplemented with large-scale humanitarian and health care support programme elements. In addition to the work of our permanent representations, we have also provided emergency assistance in crisis situations on several occasions this year, including Armenia and Lebanon.
The summary of the year 2020 does not only provide an opportunity to look back, but also makes us grateful both to our Creator and the people who help our work. We hereby also wish to express our thanks to our diverse community of partners and donors, which creates an opportunity to help more and more each year. Just like we have been doing for 30 years now: with the power of collaboration.
2020 in a nutshell
Lunch for those in need from FTC stars: Ferencváros Football Club’s players and other renowned athletes distributed 250 servings of hot meals to those in need near the Groupama Arena.
Love does not harm − We drew the attention of those involved in domestic violence through a national campaign carrying the message that they have somewhere to turn to. In the campaign, besides raising awareness, we also showed them how to get practical help.
Assistance at the time of coronavirus − we did not let go of the hand of those in need. We have reorganized the support work in a way that , wherever possible, keeping in touch should not require personal contact. We provided full care for the residents in the residential institutions.
Help in digital education − staff members of our institutions have done their best to enable children to participate in digital education and, in addition to learning, to provide opportunities for sports and play, which have resolved the tensions caused by confinement.
Assistance on the Nineveh Plains − Our representation in Northern Iraq has carried out a number of humanitarian relief operations in Iraq responding to the pandemic situation; we provided medical aids to hospitals, and our programmes also helped provide health care to those affected.
Carefree childhood − our star volunteers surprised children in need with an online children’s day programme. The running charity campaign of well-known public figures accomplishing the distance around Lake Balaton was launched by Ian Lindsay, British Ambassador, and it called the attention of the public to our fundraising aiming to help children in poverty.
Catch Up 2.0 Camps – At first, we organized summer camps for children who could not properly engage in digital education due to their difficult circumstances. In the beginning we helped them to catch up with the curriculum, then we continued our work in training workshops and held adventure days once a month.
Starting school together − We announced our Back to School Together aid campaign for the 9th time. Compared to previous years, we helped further 1,000 children due to the coronavirus; thus we helped a total of 2,000 children in difficult situations, with personalized, quality school packages worth HUF 10,000 each.
‘Catching-up settlements’ programme − In 2020, we carried out catch-up activities based on community development already in 6 settlements. The support of the most disadvantaged settlements is provided by gap-filling services and a continuous on-site presence.
Working together for those in need in Transcarpathia − we supported large families, the elderly, and children in need in Transcarpathia with special relief work before the onset of winter. We were able to provide assistance in the form of food packages and winter firewood which was partly financed from the national fundraising in Hungary.
Renewed temporary home for families in Szolnok − the complete modernization, internal renovation, and accessibility of the institution has been completed, which has improved the conditions of care work and the quality of life of the beneficiaries. Furthermore, it was also possible to create and furnish a new external accommodation facility.
love.hunger (Advent Fundraising Campaign) – The campaign, announced for the 25th time under extraordinary circumstances, ended with a great result: in 2020, nearly 600,000 people joined the country’s most extensive festive collaboration, during which HUF 232 million was offered.
National assistance – 2020
Helping families and children
Assistance to families in crisis: In 2020, just as before, the individual assistance requests received by our organization were managed by the National Assistance Centre. The centre provided support − typically in kind − in 59,000 cases this year; however, our staff informed tens of thousands of other applicants about the forms of support they can use within the system of state social servies.
As a result of the coronavirus, more people were getting into difficult situations, losing jobs, facing increasing family expenses. To this end, thanks to our corporate partners, we have helped families in need with targeted support. Requests are processed by a well-trained team of professionals which determines how to provide assistance.
Children’s Development – Catch Up Programme: As well as before, in 2020 we placed great emphasis on the development of children in need and helping them catch up. Within the framework of our Cath Up Programme, more than 3,000 children regularly participate in our development sessions. In our aid organization’s Temporary Homes, Crisis Centres, and Halfway Houses, 586 children were able to restart their lives with their parents.
We seek not only to help children living in these institutions, but also to support families living in the vicinity of the institutions. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to maintain and organize our child development programmes. Some of our services had to be transferred to the online platforms; however, some services had to be temporarily suspended. Our staff strived not to let go of anyone’s hand and to be able to stay in touch with everyone.
It has been a big task to help provide digital education in our institutions and in the segregates where we are present. We have created small groups of students and also launched our digital learning programme. During summer and autumn, when it was possible to have personal meetings in camps, we helped the children catch up with digital experience workshops.
More than 3,000 children took part in community programmes and 1,758 children took part in multi-session development activities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of multi-session development meetings has almost halved compared to last year, as there were periods when these services could not be provided. In 2020 our aid organization continued to play a significant role in ensuring that starting school does not cause a great problem for many children living under challenging circumstances. Within the frame of our Back to school together! action 2,000 children received school supplies, school equipment, clothes, or travel support needed to go to school.
A way out of poverty: We are operating temporary homes for families who had lost their housing in 5 cities already (Budapest, Kastélyosdombó, Miskolc, Orosháza, Szolnok). These institutions serve to keep families together and also to help them move forward.
In 2020, our reintegration model programme continued in Kastélyosdombó. Those moving to this unique temporary home for families acquire agricultural and animal husbandry skills; then by breaking out of the dependence on the social welfare system, they can start a new life on their own in the life-changing houses provided by our aid organization. In addition to backyard farming and animal husbandry, the social farm has a center for purchase and drying of herbs. Furthermore, besides cheese making, a special agricultural project offers income opportunities for families in need in the Somogy county settlement and in the micro-region. This is the hop plantation established in 2018, by which the production of the most important beer flavouring in Hungary has restarted. Through a joint initiative with Heineken, we are implementing a commercially sustainable long-term programme, contributing to the livelihoods of disadvantaged families involved in cultivation.
The model programme will be expanded to several temporary homes of families in the country (Miskolc, Szolnok, Mosonmagyaróvár). The affected parents could participate in labour market development, and children could participate in both individual and group development. The programme will also continue on the locations of Vizsoly and Boldogkőújfalu, where activities based on this methodology have also appeared.
‘Catching-up Settlements’ Programme: The ‘Catching-up Settlements’ Programme was launched in 4 settlements in 2019 (Kastélyosdombó, Lakócsa, Boldogkőújfalu, Vizsoly) then in 2020, two new settlements, Felsődobsza and Pusztakovácsi-Kürtöspuszta joined the programme.
In 2020, the services developed by the “Presence Points” were used by almost 1,500 people in the district. Based on the diagnoses and action plans prepared during the previous period, the development and implementation of the services provided in the project will continue. The new challenges posed by the pandemic have also made the functioning of the Presence Points more difficult. The on-site presence has further strengthened over the past year; we have become an important player in the local care system. Child development sessions are constantly taking place: with the involvement of a developmental teacher, a special education teacher and a speech therapist − there is a constant growing demand for theseactivities. Strengthening employment and improving housing conditions, mobilizing families being in contact withHIA, helping them to enter the labour market, and expanding services and programme elements to the district level − all remain important and priority tasks.
Assistance to homeless
In 2020 our organization operated centres in three cities to help the homeless: Budapest, Debrecen, and Gyula. In addition to the possibility of warming up, bathing and eating, our institutions provided more: personalized help and advice in administration and job search; a chance of integration into society. Our street and micro-regional outreach services regularly helped people seeking refuge not only on the streets but also in the boondocks or in tent-like makeshiftsin the city’s outskirts. In 2020, 1,250 homeless people received some form of assistance service.
In addition to the nearly 270,000 servings of food distributed during our daily food distributions, we provided more than 5,000 servings of hot meals to those in need at our extraordinary Advent Fundraising Campaign.
Assistance to psychiatric patients
Supporting our fellow human beings with psychiatric illnesses, providing them reinforcing and counselling services is an important task to do. The specialists of our aid organization help the patients and their family members in the Day-Care Institution for Psychiatric Patients in two cities, in Eger and in Szolnok.
The primary goal of our centres is to create a supportive environment where the feeling of loneliness − characteristic of psychiatric problems − can be resolved, hospitalization effects can be alleviated, and the frequency and duration of hospital relapses can be reduced. Thus, our long-term goal is to help patients reintegrate into society.
Adapting to the extraordinary circumstances of 2020, we have redesigned the services of our institutions: group and individual consultations have also become available online. Our staff visited the care recipients several times a month, brought food and vitamins to them, and information materials from the clubs were also shared with some of them this way.
Assistance to addicts
Supporting our fellow humans struggling with addiction and providing strengthening and counselling services is a key task of our organization. Our social professionals help people and their families facing difficult situations due to alcohol, drugs, and gambling in 5 different locations nationwide. In addition to corrective services, we are placing increasing emphasis on preventive programmes.
Due to the emergency situation caused by the coronavirus, we also had to redesign these services. Some of our institutions had to close temporarily; however, even during these periods, we did not leave our beneficiaries alone. We reorganized some of our services and transferred them into online platforms, and we also developed a system for contactless transfer of donations. Keeping in touch with many of our clients through telephone communication has helped them get through this challenging period.
In addition to corrective services, we are placing increasing emphasis on the implementation of preventive programmes. High school students could take part in lectures on addiction, in the organization of our addiction centre in Szolnok. Besides, in the framework of the successful Game with Borders prevention programme, several preventive programmes and club sessions organized in various parts of the country, aimed at preventing gambling addiction.
In addition to prevention, the Game with Borders programme consists of integration and dissemination elements. It has been operating for eight years now as a gap-filling, complex programme in the prevention and treatment of gambling addiction.
The integration part of the programme helps addicts and their relatives by running self-help groups. In 2020, we organized events at six locations. From 2020, in addition to group sessions, clients will also have the opportunity to participate in individual case management.
The programme includes a network of Information Points. The aim is to emphasize the main message: there is help and a place where they can deal with this disorder. In 2020, Info Points were visited by a total of 357 clients.
Assistance to victims of abuse
In 2020, we also paid special attention to victims of domestic violence. We helped 67 families in the Safe House where shelter and housing is provided to mothers and children fleeing violence.
Our care system for victims of domestic violence provides assistance with three Crisis Centres, two Halfway Houses, three Secret Shelters, one Online Counselling Service and four Crisis Clinics. This year our “Love does not harm” campaign continued, with the main message that nothing in a relationship makes violence acceptable. The anonymous counselling of the organization is available on the page created by us (www.aszeretetnemart.hu), along with a lot of helpful information for the victims and the professionals who help them. Our institutions dealing specifically with victims of domestic violence are evolving year by year, with an expanding range of services. In 2018, 430 people were receiving care, in 2019, this number was 574 people, and in 2020 it increased to 1,048 people.
In 2020, the ongoing consultation with the ministries continued. Our aid organization has been involved in research on crisis care, and our professionals continue to collaborate in legislative processes in the area.
International assistance – 2020
We provided assistance in several crisis areas in 2020. Our large-scale development programmes have continued in Iraq, Ukraine and Afghanistan, even if their implementation has been a great difficulty in many cases due to restrictions and lockdowns.
The emergence of the coronavirus pandemic fundamentally influenced our humanitarian programmes: our aim was to be able to provide support in the fight against COVID19 to as many people in need, in as many locations as possible. We have succeeded in achieving this in various countries (Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan), however, Ukraine stands out, to where we have almost continuously delivered protective equipment and devices during the year in order to support health care institutions and the defence efforts of the population.
We did not remain idle during other disasters, either: we also provided assistance to those affected by the bombing in Beirut, the war in Yemen and Armenia, and the floods in Sudan this year.
Our aid organization has been present in Afghanistan since 2001, for 20 years now. In the Northern part of the country, our office in Mazar-I-Sharif carried out intensive coordination and professional work throughout the year.
In 2020, we signed an agreement with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) office in Kabul to implement five projects. During the programmes, 2,750 tons of food were distributed as well as various local rural development, disaster prevention, and training programmes were implemented. The number of direct beneficiaries was 125,643. The total value of the programmes, including the value of food handed over and value of ‘cash-for-work’ type programmes, exceeded HUF 800 million. In addition to armed conflicts, Afghanistan has also been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In order to ensure the safety of our colleagues and the successful implementation of the projects, we have introduced various security and restrictive measures both for the operation of our local office and for the implementation of the programmes.
In 2020, we helped the orphaned children of Târgu Mureş and the residents of the local nursing home in Transylvania. At the start of school year, we supported students in need, children from large families and orphans with a total of 500 school packages, while during Advent non-perishable foodstuffs and gift packages were brought to those in need. In addition to covering needs of families, the 6-ton Christmas donation provided a half-year long support for the children of the Lazarénum Foundation’s Institutions: a 35-person orphanage, a 22-person orphanage and a 52-person nursing home. The relief supplies also included a donation of cleaning and disinfecting products, as well as protective clothing to help ensure the safe care of the elderly.
With the motto of “helping locally”, in 2020 we focused primarily on Iraq in the international field. Our humanitarian representation in Erbil, which was opened in 2016 − with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade −, further expanded its activities in Iraq to support Christian families expelled from their homes and helped tackle the roots of the migration crisis in Europe. Our permanent on-site presence, our three-member Hungarian staff deployed, and our local staff of 10, enabled us to carry out regular on-site monitoring of the projects, intensive fundraising, and constant participation in international coordination.
Due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, we suspended our office in Baghdad from March, and all the staff members continued to work from home in Erbil, too. During the lockdown, we successfully completed a healthcare aid project on the Nineveh Plains. In the federal territories, there was a strict curfew in force; thus it was only possible to get back to the full-time office work in Erbil and Baghdad in October.
Despite the extraordinary circumstances, most of our aid organization’s development projects continued in 2020 as initially planned. From the fall of 2019 to January 2021, we maintained a community centre in the Iraqi government-controlled area in the city of Qaraqosh on the Nineveh Plains, where we supported the employment of women through training in handcraft techniques and assistance in the sale of finished products. 160 people attended the weaving and carpet-making courses.
During the year, several relief goods were distributed in cooperation with our local partner organizations in the Iraqi-Kurdistan region. These activities provided emergency assistance to internally displaced persons. We improved the water supply of six settlements on the Nineveh Plains: the water network of the settlements was built and renewed, and an irrigation canal was reconstructed. Besides these activities, we restored the water supply of six more settlements by cleaning and renovating a nearly 3 km long irrigation canal. With the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we also donated a water purification equipment to Karemles settlement.
Our large-scale educational programmes also continued. In the Nineveh Plains we renovated and partially equipped schools in 4 settlements inhabited primarily by Christians. Thanks to the renovation work, we were able to improve the everyday learning conditions of a total of 1,557 students.
In the territory of Iraqi-Kurdistan, we started to organize and conduct training with different profiles and activities for children as part of our psychosocial and community-building activities in three IDP camps.
A vulnerable target group, the Yazidi community was in the focus of our work already in 2019; hundreds of thousands of whom are still unable to return to their homes. Accordingly, we are working on implementing three project elements: building a health centre in Rambosi and renovating one in al-Wardiya. In Khanke, in order to create jobs a bakery is being set up; the selected beneficiaries will receive basic education and then they will also acquire practical knowledge during the trainings held in the built bakery building.
The € 7 million Qudra 2 project has continued to increase the resilience of refugees, internally displaced persons, returnees, and local communities. We contribute to this goal by creating and supporting livelihood opportunities and building the capacity of civil society actors.
In 2020 − in the first full year of the project − the activities took place mainly in the Kurdistan Autonomous Region. The expansion of livelihood opportunities has affected agriculture and business development. The latter is implemented in a complex programme: entrepreneurs participate in business training, and then, after the evaluation of the business plan, they receive individualized asset support. Agricultural development is implemented on the one hand through infrastructural developments and on the other hand, through individual training and asset support. . In regard to infrastructural developments, we started four irrigation canal rehabilitation works, and 139 families received individual support for agricultural assets. A total of 60 families also received livestock support. A training course was launched in an IDP camp with 73 participants, conducted by university professors, covering the entire production cycle from production funds to market access. In order to further develop the sector, experiments with seed quality research and hydroponic crop production are also taking place in Erbil in cooperation with the Agricultural Research Institute.
The capacity building of the civil sector takes place through training and asset support needed for the implementation of activities for social cohesion.
With the support of the Lutheran Church, we were able to improve the internal communication of the Qaraqush hospital buildings: we set up a special telephone system within the hospital. Thanks to the support of the Unitarian Church, we were able to help an orphanage: winter clothing and blankets were provided for the 30 children living here, and heaters and a high-performance vacuum cleaner were donated to the institution.
Our aid organization announced collaboration in early August to help the victims of the Beirut explosion. Numerous residential buildings, schools and hospitals were damaged in the Lebanese capital as a result of the August 4 explosion. With the help of our local partner, the Armenian Apostolic Church, we supported the reconstruction of the homes of more than 10 families.
In addition to that, families in need received support due to the coronavirus pandemic. We have helped 626 families through our partner, the Armenian Prelate of Lebanon: we provided disinfectants and hygiene items − medical masks and gloves and food packages for families with children and the elderly.
We helped Armenian families who had become refugees in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict with emergency aid. We launched a humanitarian programme in the region in order to help people fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh with the support of the Hungary Helps Agency. We provided shelter, food, hygienic and sanitary items, bedding and clothing to those in need. The project helped a total of 330 families (2286 people).
In Sudan, the unprecedented flooding of the Nile and Blue Nile caused severe damage. With the support of the Hungary Helps Agency, we responded by implementing a humanitarian programme in the outer districts of Khartoum and in the region severely affected by the floods. The project’s main objective was to procure non-food items (blankets, mosquito nets, mattresses), hand them over to families affected by floods, and distribute hygiene packages. The project was implemented with the help of our local partner, the Norwegian Church Aid, and it resulted in the distribution of 150 NFI packages and 208 hygiene packages.
We continue to help Transcarpathian families in need. Thanks to the support of the Federation of Towns with County Rank (MJVSZ), we support students with winter firewood and school starting packages in addition to the regular food and hygiene packages. At Christmas, we surprise families with festive gift packages. In view of the extraordinary coronavirus situation, the ordinary support was supplemented with disinfectants and hygiene products.
We place particular emphasis on the development of children and on helping those living in disadvantaged families in catching-up. Regular events are organized within the framework of Tanoda (facility for after-school support programs) and Sure Start Children’s House programmes, also with the support of MJVSZ. Although, the Beregovo Charity Half Marathon, which has now become a tradition, was only held online due to the pandemic, the related fundraising was not cancelled: from the raised amount Transcarpathian families were supported.
As part of the development activities affecting Hungarians living abroad, a nursery and a kindergarten will be established in Beregszász and Korláthelmec, so that children can receive quality care.
In Ukraine, in addition to the economic difficulties in 2020, the spread of the coronavirus pandemic posed significant challenges to the country and to the health care institutions. In Ukraine and Transcarpathia, the number of diagnosed COVID-19 infections and deaths are extremely high.
In the first days of the coronavirus pandemic, we started to support institutions in Transcarpathia that play a role in the care system of the affected population. Disinfectants, medical masks and hygiene products were provided to health and social care institutions in Beregovo and to local residents in need. In addition to this, food and hygiene packages are also provided in order to support those in need and healthcare workers. Our aid organization transmitted the COVID19 protective equipment support of the Hungarian government to hospitals and health care institutions in Transcarpathia. During the pandemic, health services in Transcarpathia were only available to a limited extent, therefore we made the possibility of medical counselling available in form of a video consultation to Hungarians in Transcarpathia with the help of the Doktor24 Health Centre .
The protection against the coronavirus was also supported by a professional trip, in the framework of which a group of nine medical professionals arrived to Hungary between July 5-11, 2020. The aim of the trip was to make members of the group be familiar with effective COVID-19 pandemic management methods applied in Hungary on the spot at first hand; and later on, enable them to integrate these methods into their own work when they return home.
In June 2020, heavy rains caused severe flooding in five counties of Western Ukraine in the Tisza and Dniester river basins. Following the flood, the Hungary Helps Agency provided support; our aid organization took care of its use. As a result, 1,167 families affected by the flood received a total of 2,334 aid packages.
In Kherson, Eastern Ukraine, we are setting up a Crisis Centre in cooperation with the Hungary Helps Agency, where we want to help victims of domestic violence in the city with infrastructural support and professional advice for the centre’s staff. In connection with management of domestic violence, crisis centres provide a service through wich victims of abuse receive complex care. As a result, we can play an active role in the development and operation of the work processes and methodology of the Kherson Crisis Centre.
Volunteering is one of the core values of our aid organization, even if due to the pandemic in 2020, volunteers were able to participate in fewer activities than in the previous years: assembling aid and hot food packages, helping in summer camps and children’s programmes, catering in social institutions, doing administrative tasks, participating in fundraising actions − all offered a variety of opportunities for involvement, which we implemented under the safest conditions. An attendance form and register were prepared for all the voluntary activities, and a contract was concluded in the prescribed cases.
In 2020, 366 volunteers completed a total of 2,075 volunteer hours in our aid organization’s programmes, which means a decrease compared to 2019 due to the pandemic. Online meetings were organized for the volunteers in order to retain them and increase their commitment. On World Volunteering Day, we acknowledged our volunteers who provided excellent service in 2020 by bringing our gratitude to their homes.
2020 in numbers regarding finances