Part II: The Story of Wafa

2015. szeptember 07., hétfő

This past May a group of American students and their teacher decided to do their missions trip in Budapest with the refugee mission of Reformed Mission Centre (RMK). During their stay, students became acquainted with several people and families and they learned about their ways of life and the turbulent situations that forced them to flee. Part II.

Savannah: “When we walked through Wafa’s front door, we were immediately met with the curious eyes of her three children. Osama was the oldest at fourteen years old; Joseph was ten, and Amira was six. During a traditional Arabic meal that Wafa cooked for us, the children kept peeking around the door frame to smile at us. Towards the end of dinner, little Amira came out to ask her mom if she could sing us a song. She giggled as she went on Youtube to find a children’s song and started to sing. She was absolutely adorable, shyly singing and wanting our attention and satisfaction. She was the embodiment of innocence and child-like wonder. 

“After dinner Osama showed us the room he shared with Joseph, which contained numerous references to soccer. He pulled out a huge stack of drawings, almost all of which were soccer-related. Joseph presented us with many of his drawings as well, featuring superheroes and cartoon characters. They both tried to remain humble and shrug, but we kept praising them until they eventually exploded into self-satisfied laughter. 

“Amira showed us her room next, in which everything was the color pink. It was covered with Disney princesses, My Little Pony, Violetta, and other various children’s characters.

She was immensely proud of her room, opening every drawer and pointing to every shelf just to hear us exclaim, “Wow! That is so cool!” She even showed us her closet before opening up the bottom drawer on her dresser. From there she pulled out four handmade loom bracelets and hugged each one of us tightly before giving us the gift. “No one ever told Amira how to pull the elastic together like that to make a bracelet,” Wafa told us later. “She just learned it herself. She’s an incredibly smart little girl”. 

Emma: “Wafa was forced to flee her country because her husband was not allowed to enter Wafa’s country (Palestine). Wafa’s husband was forced to flee his country because Wafa was not allowed to enter his country (Israel). The politics created boarders so strict and rigid that husband and wife were not allowed to live together; boarders so rigid that families were torn apart. To be together, Wafa and her husband came to Budapest, Hungary. 

“When they came to Hungary, Wafa had to leave her mother behind, and Wafa told me she had not seen her mother in the eleven years since she had fled. Wafa is unable to go back to visit her mother for fear of punishment from her home country, and Wafa’s mother is unable to come visit her because Wafa is not a Hungarian citizen, although she has done everything right to become one. Both Wafa and her husband have jobs, they always pay their bills, even if it is just barely, they have not caused any trouble with the law; they are respectable members of their society and model citizens, although they are not actually citizens. Wafa has applied for citizenship three times now, each time unsuccessful and a waste of money. When she receives the tragic news, there is no explanation of why they should be denied.

“Wafa and her family are stateless people, without a home to call their own. Wafa explained to me that she loves Budapest and her life in Hungary, and she would never want to leave, but she feels as if Hungary does not want her there and Hungary does not love her back. Wafa has an unrequited love with Hungary that causes her pain each and every day. She can never escape this pain because Hungary is the only hope she has. I began realizing the fault was not within her country, but along the edges of her country. The boarders of a country are what defines a country. Wafa hurtfully proclaimed that boarders only do harm; they keep people out because of physical differences that are too highly and wrongfully key factors.” 

Savannah: “We had tea later that night with Wafa, who was pregnant with her fourth child. After lighthearted conversations about Budapest and her daughter Amira’s favorite Disney show, we found ourselves on the topic of religion. Wafa started explaining persecution she faces for being Muslim and how her Palestinian ethnicity often has the connotation of terrorism. “In the end,” she explains, “it doesn’t matter. We’re all on the same walk of life. Muslims, Christians, Jews—we all believe in one God who tells us to be a good person. One God who tells us to lovelove, and yet that is usually not the emotion exchanged between different religions.” 

Emma: “No matter one’s ethnicity, we are all human beings, and we are all the same.”

Savannah Weber and Emma Vanderkolk

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Reformed Church in Hungary

Address: H-1146 Budapest, Abonyi utca 21.   

PO Box: 1140 Budapest 70, Pf. 5

Phone/Fax: + 36 1 460 0708 


Our church through American eyes

We encourage you to read our  former GM intern Kearstin Bailey's blog about her time, spent in Hungary.