In 2015, during the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East since 1948, the Slovak government declared that Slovakia had no capacities for the integration of refugees. In response to this declaration, the initiative Kto pomôže? was established as a national call for volunteers. The first step of the initiative was to call on the Slovak government to accept 100 refugee and displaced families from Syria and Iraq in Slovakia. At the same time, they demanded that the government introduce a plan containing specific steps for integrating these families into communities and Slovak society as a whole. The government’s plan ought to be a public promise by thousands of Slovak families, individuals, organisations, churches and businesses committed to helping integrate the accepted women, men and children. The initiative found expert assistance and assistance in accepting refugees with partners from the non-governmental sector who have long been working in the field of integration.
The initial campaign http://ktopomoze.sk/ was able to collect more than 2,000 volunteers (individuals, families, communities) who have declared their readiness to provide very concrete assistance to refugees in their integration. One of the advantages of the campaign was the fact that it was publicly supported by well-known people. It was initiated by people from Christian Catholic circles having good relations and cooperation with church institutions and individual priests. However, crucially, it was inclusive of all people regardless of their religion.
Later, the organisation was run under the well-established Christian intellectual NGO Spoločenstvo Ladislava Hanusa (Ladislav Hanus Society) https://www.slh.sk/. The NGO, among several other organisations, received an official grant from the government to help refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. They trained several hundred people all around Slovakia who were ready to help with the integration process. The most striking problem they faced was the low number of refugees wanting to live in Slovakia. Thus, the initial enthusiasm of many volunteers has declined. In 2017, the initiative is transforming itself into an independent organisation, Mareena https://www.facebook.com/ktopomoze.sk/. It is a non-polarising, inclusive, locally based initiative of national significance giving various people and communities support in their attitude to help the needy. Their key activities revolve around integration and education and are community-based. The organisation works with both locals and refugees and aims to create a dialogue and cooperation between the two groups which will lead to integration. The organisation is planning to organise educational courses at schools where they will teach students about refugees and their role in integration. The initiative can be easily replicable because of its de-centralised and simple model of operation.