Menedék – the Hungarian Association for Migrants is an NGO promoting the social integration of foreign citizens migrating to Hungary, as well as Hungarian and other citizens emigrating from Hungary. Menedék have been active for more than twenty years and currently have around 50 staff members. Menedék have developed a comprehensive system of services to support refugees and other foreigners in Hungary. They also organise sensitivity trainings for professionals who deal with immigrants in their course of work (social workers, teachers, police officers and armed security guards working in immigration detention centres). The NGO have their headquarters in Budapest, but they have colleagues working also in Bicske, Fót and Vámosszabadi. It is also their objective to make the majority of society more open to immigrants and refugees and they operate cultural and educational programmes toward that aim. One of these programmes is called Welcome migrants. In this project, celebrities have agreed to host a migrant or a family in their homes for a few days. Their time together was documented in a video. Menedék produced 4 videos and a ‘making of’ documentary which were then disseminated online. The videos and newspaper articles about them received more than one million views. The films were also disseminated at an offline event in a well-known Hungarian bar. There was a round table discussion about the civic solutions of migrants’ housing problems and people could try meals from international cuisine.
A few years ago Menedék also had a programme called Sunday lunch, which aimed at building a bridge between migrants/refugees and the majority of society through the culinary arts. It included events where immigrant and Hungarian families cooked for each other, a cookbook publication with international recipes written by a Hungarian gastro blogger who interviewed 15 immigrants living in Hungary and short films documenting encounters between immigrants and Hungarians. The project ended with a final event where the films, photos and cookbook were presented and participants were given a taste of some of the meals. Menedék also organise leisure programmes for minority and majority citizens together such as yoga, boxing classes and gardening in a community garden.
The success of Menedék lies not only in the more than twenty years of experience with issues of migration and integration, but also in the innovative and non-polarising character of their activities. Using multimedia such as short videos and films which are disseminated via the media and with the help of publicly known people is a good way of reaching a large audience. Additionally, the organisation of various leisure activities for both migrants and locals where both groups can relax, have fun and establish relations among themselves is a great tactic for successful community building, which leads to smooth integration. http://menedek.hu/