“In April 2022, with a Japanese friend of mine, Kai Shiida we thought we should do something to help people fleeing the war in Ukraine. Lot of people came then to the town of Záhony, so we thought we could go with some students to help them in small groups at the Ukrainian border. That’s how we started to cooperate with the Red Cross,” evokes the beginnings of the project Kata Erdei. The fifth-year student of the Faculty of Medicine (ÁOK) is one of the organizers of the Semmelweis students’ volunteer mission.
First they discussed with the members of a Japanese association, AMDA (Association of Medical Doctors of Asia) to start this project. They went to the Rector of the university asking for some support and with the participation of the International Semmelweis Student Association (ISSA) they started the mission. “We collected participants through social media networks and the website of the ISSA, we organized the trips, fixed the tasks, and the students started to go to Záhony last June,” Kata Erdei explained.
“Spending a few days in the slow paced town of Záhony was truly good for my heart, it was wonderful to meet the Red Cross volunteers and fall into a routine with them. We woke up early in the days and drove up to the Red Cross headquarters where we reorganized medication inventories, helped measure vital parameters of patients that came in, and played with children who either came from Ukraine or were heading back there. On the train ride back to Budapest, all I could think is how grateful I was for the opportunity to go and experience of being a volunteer,” Chen Yu Hua, fifth-year Chinese student of ÁOK told our website.
Mostly international Semmelweis students from the English program have been taking part in the project, in groups of 2 or 3. There have been volunteers from the university almost every week in Záhony since the launch of the project last summer. They have been vital in the aid of the physicians at the border. They take patient’s vital measurements, assist in triage, do physical examinations of patients, and speak with patients and their children to let them know they’ve reached a safe place.
Ali Alfarwi also took part in the volunteer activities in Záhony. The fifth-year ÁOK student from Syria said everything was very well organized for the people trespassing the border. “We stayed all day long in the triage centre, working together with other volunteers and the supervisors of the Red Cross. Patients got every information they needed in the same place. Whole families came, everybody was very friendly and nice. Children were very cute, they drew a lot of pictures for us saying thank you,” he recalls.
In recent months less and less refugees have been coming to Hungary from Ukraine, so the work of volunteers is not indispensable, but Semmelweis students are still in contact with the Red Cross and they are ready to continue their work in Záhony if necessary. They are also planning to do other projects in different locations in Hungary.
Semmelweis University helps refugees from Ukraine in several areas providing health care for people fleeing the war in Ukraine in all cases. The university offers students, researchers and lecturers in the field of medicine and health sciences, and those working in patient care, the opportunity to continue their work and studies in Hungarian, English or German.
Attila Kovács – Semmelweis University