The United Nations declared December 3 as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in 1992. Since then, UN has been committed to raise awareness about people living with disabilities on this date as well as every other day of the year. The RCH’s head of the diaconal office called church members on this international day to reflect on the question, how inclusive are we?
‘Real integration is only possible if we prepare not only the people we take care of in our institutions for independent living, but if their environment treats them with an understanding and approach them with a helping attitude. We have mixed experiences regarding to this’, said head of the diaconal office András Beszterczey.
Four years ago the Diaconal Office organized a flashmob on the Vörösmarty square, in the heart of Budapest, with the goal to encourage visitors of the Christmas fair to interact and meet with the people with disabilities living in our homes. ‘There were people who were very happy to participate and they even sang with them, others were more shy or even looked afraid and avoided them.’ Sadly, this program cannot be repeated this year because of the pandemic.
The Diaconal Office of the Reformed Church in Hungary helps nearly 1,700 people with disabilities in its 21 dedicated institutions. Supporting services, daytime institutions, dwellings with accommodation and institutions providing accommodation are helping to improve the living conditions of disabled people. The Diaconal Office is planning to launch supported accommodation programs in various cities and towns, which would help peolpe with disabilities prepare for independent living.
‘We saw from our experiences that social sensitization is needed in order to react with knowledge and confidence to people with disabilities and not with fear. Not too long ago, neighbors expressed their fear when launching the service was mentioned, which shows not only the attitude of local communities but the need of social sensitization, because that’s the base of inclusion’ said András Beszterczey.
RCH discussed the importance of welcoming people with disabilities into the church. Adopting a statement in 2016, the Synod encouraged the inclusion of brothers and sisters living with disabilities and called for an accessible church.
"We believe and profess that the love of Jesus Christ that elevates human beings is the basis and source of real relationships which make life meaningful for both abled and disabled people. As a result, this way of following Christ becomes a blessing in this world."