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Religious Youth Service

RYS-Hungary Restores Shelters and Gardens

Participants: 85 Nations Represented: 20


Background: The RYS made a five year plan to support the transition period in Eastern Europe. The Poland project was followed by the global projects in Hungary and Czechoslovakia and later with two projects in Croatia. These projects would provide a foundation for later work in Slovenia and Slovakia.

The Hungary project was done with the strong cooperation of the Hungarian Red Cross whose volunteers helped make the Tatabanya program a huge success. The mayor Pec was instrumental in locating the appropriate work projects in his community while the director of the "Orphan Village" and the communities leaders made the Peace Garden project deeply meaningful for both the participants and the hundreds of orphans that called it home.

The RYS was the first major interfaith project for religious youth held in the post-communist era. The Hungarian people had a very strong interest in learning from the diverse religious and cultural backgrounds of participants and therefore welcomed them in numerous situations.

Duration: July 7 - 31, 1991

Work Projects

  1. Pecs: The RYS in an effort to deal with the problem of homelessness and in cooperation with the mayor's office worked at two locations restoring a women's and a man's shelter. The work included laying bricks, repairing a roof, and creating landscaping efforts that would help make the best use of the grounds.
  2. Fut: Volunteers built a large Peace Garden at the "Orphan Village" home of 450 orphaned children. The participants worked to clear out a lake and landscape grounds and planted hundreds of bamboo trees. The garden and the lake area are now a place for mediation, quiet and reflection.
  3. Tatabanya: Participants worked at several locations set up by both the Red Cross and the mayor's office. Three schools where among the locations where restoration work was done on several sections of the buildings. Among the jobs completed were general repairs on windows, walls and ceilings while peace murals were painted and a concrete foundation of one school was laid and the roof of another repaired.

Summary: A special forum hosted at the City Hall in Budapest was sponsored by the New ERA (another project of the IRF). This conference brought international academic scholars together to discuss issues related to the changes that are going on in Eastern Europe. The RYS attended and co-hosted this forum and were able to meet and share with the audience and the speakers.

Mr. Sztuchlick, Secretary-General of the national Red Cross helped locate the project in Tatabanya and linked the Red Cross support team to the RYS. The following year he also connected the RYS to the Red Cross in Czechoslovakia.


International Director: Gary Young, 
Acting Director: David Fraser Harris 
Education: John W. Gehring, 
Co-ordinator: Ernst Hausedder 
Education staff Directing, Drs. Ron and Sherry Hartman Burr 
Lecturers-Advisors: Dr. Vera Mehta, Dr. Paul Mojzes, Dr. Francis Clark, Fr. Frank De Graeve, Rev. David Hose 
Site Leaders: Dr. Bert Phillips and Mrs. Judy Phillips : Tatabanya
Drs. James & Nancy Burton: Fut 
Drs. Kazi and Azizzun Islam: Pecs

Media Coverage: National television made a half hour documentary on the RYS and put it on during prime viewing time.

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