Last night we flew into Budapest, Hungary. Expecting to be participating with a project inside a refugee camp, I was surprised when our host explained that we were headed to a facility for adults with special needs for a different project, called Be An Impact. Of course, we are excited to do anything, but showing up in a new country and not knowing where you're going can be a little nerve-racking.
In Hungary, refugee camps are very strict. You can only enter if you have a special pass, these can take over a month to secure. This was the first obstacle we faced with entrance. We also learned it would be difficult to visit camps because those in the area are designed so refugees will leave and seek asylum in another country. Hungary, along with Poland, Czech Republic, and Slovakia all are trying to keep refugees out so they focus on taking care of their own citizens.
On a bus ride ride to the outskirts of Budapest, about 45 minutes from the city center, we learned a little more about the new project we will be focusing on here. The Be An Impact project is an AIESEC project within the Equal Chances Foundation. Equal Chances is made up of a cluster of buildings that provide services and employment to disabled adults. We are very excited to learn more about the organization.
Those living in Hungary with special needs face many stereotypes and are excluded from daily life in many ways including limited access to public places and transportation, lack of job opportunities, and challenges in finding care and support services. Equal Chances Foundation was started by a mom who wanted a place for her own son to live as an adult where he could be a man of dignity within a supportive environment where he could build meaningful life-long relationships. We are very excited to hear more about her story, the organizations story, the workshops they offer, and the living environment they provide, over the next couple of days.
Plans change, but it's not about what I will do on this trip, rather the people I meet and the stories we share.