June 20th is World Refugee Day, we think of those who have been uprooted from their homes and villages at an unprecedented scale, leaving some 60 million people displaced worldwide. This very sad situation invites to act. As a religious Congregation, we have in various countries structures that receive and attend to some of those, our brothers and sister’s refugees. One of the structure is in Austria, where we presenting the history which follows.
In September 2015 there were so many refugees sitting on the floor and on benches or waiting outside the Vienna Central Station. Most of the refugees who arrived at the Vienna station did not want to remain in Austria, but wanted to continue their way to Germany or other countries. Our SVD parish is located near the central station and heard of the problem and decided to help those refugees.
From Fr. Albert Pongo, SVD.
We formed a volunteer team to welcome the refugees. Parishioners responded generously with donations of mats, blankets, food, clothes and toiletries. The parishioners set up accommodations for sixty to seventy people in the parish hall and in other rooms so that refugees can stay overnight. Later on we as a parish decided to host some of the refugees who want to stay in Vienna Austria. It's a collaboration between the SVD and parishioners.
The refugees who are currently in our parish are from Afghanistan. They are 3 families consisting of 13 people from the age of 2 till 91 years of age. These people left their original house because their lives were in danger.
The SVD members have given them their apartment. The apartment is renovated with the help of donations. The government of Austria pays for their accommodation and food, and we believe it was a good decision to give them the apartment, because it's not easy to find an apartment here in Vienna.
We have good relationship with the refugees. There are still some volunteers from our parish who teach them German, play with the children. They had their first interview with the government and they are waiting for the second interview to get permission to live in Austria. We are expecting for a positive answer.