#Ukraine Temporary protection card extended until 2025

Empowering refugees and migrants to shape public affairs

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee is working to support the social inclusion of refugees and migrants through their participation in a ten-session course.

Our goal is to help the integration of the participants by learning methods to more easily take part in Hungarian public affairs. We believe that foreigners living here can really ‘arrive’ in Hungary, feel that this country is their home, and become active members of society if they not only fight for their survival, but also experience that they can have an impact in shaping their own lives and influencing public affairs.

There are a number of existing NGO programmes for refugees and migrants, but this is the only course in which participants can learn how to design and implement a community action that responds to not only their own needs, but those of others as well.

We work with participants through a critical pedagogical method; the essence of which is to recognise their individual expertise. We acknowledge that they have already accumulated a wealth of experience about what it is like to rebuild their lives in a new country. Particularly experienced and courageous people in our course include Syrian, South Sudanese, Afghan, Ugandan, Palestinian, Cuban and stateless refugees. In addition, there are migrants from Kenya and Cameroon who, although not in danger in their country of origin, have their opportunities severely constrained by the unstable economic and political situation there. Or they simply wanted to see the world and get to know Hungary.

In cooperation with the participants, we considered how to solve various social problems in Hungary. We gathered together the actors who have an influence on the shaping of Hungarian public affairs and discussed the rights and obligations of these actors; as well as which actors should be involved in solving what type of problem. Thus, the participants also gained new knowledge and information through the course.

We learned the differences between the five ways we deal with social problems – service provision, advocacy, community development, community organisation and activism. We discussed the social actions in Hungary, and analysed how the five methods could be used separately, or in conjunction to complement each other.

One of the goals of our course was to keep participants from very different parts of the world and social backgrounds open to each other’s suggestions for solutions. We achieved this goal as participants became each other’s allies during the 10 sessions. During the forging of these experiences, the participants realised that they were not alone in their intention to participate as a foreign citizen or even a refugee in shaping Hungary’s public affairs. Moreover, they can now imagine how to plan a social action; and they also know they can count on each other to make it happen.

The group’s most active participants will continue to think together in 2022 about the issues that concern them the most. To this end, we will:

1) plan a social campaign so that a refugee can receive a justification if their application for citizenship is rejected; and even be able to appeal; and

2) draw attention to facilitating access to university education for refugees.

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Hungarian Helsinki Committee