Cluj-Napoca United Methodist (Romania) opened a new community center last year. Now the former hotel is once again hosting "guests" who had to flee Ukraine.
Renting the former Hanul Fullton Hotel in Cluj-Napoca was a courageous decision by the United Methodist Church there. Now, with large numbers of people fleeing due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the decision is proving to be a blessing.
Rares Calugar, superintendent of the UMC in Romania, reported on the phone that the center is currently fully occupied. It is mainly women and children who have fled from Ukraine who have found temporary accommodation here. They are given food and have the opportunity to talk and receive counseling.
Many of the people who are currently accommodated in the center are just passing through on their way to other countries. Some hope to return to Ukraine when the situation there has calmed down. Those who wish to stay in Romania will be moved to other shelters in the city. "The UMC has built a network in Cluj-Napoca and has access to numerous apartments and houses where those leaving the community center can stay to make room for new arrivals," said Rares Calugar.
The willingness of the local population to donate is high, he said. The church receives food and other in-kind donations to provide for the people who have fled. They not only distribute these among the refugees in Cluj-Napoca. They have also driven a vehicle to the border to provide aid to new arrivals there, Calugar says.
To finance the center, the UMC would actually have to rely on income from rentals, meetings and accommodations. It is therefore clear that it will not be able to pay the rent for the hotel, the wages for the staff and the support for the refugees from its own resources. In the network of Methodist churches in Europe and worldwide, donations are currently being collected to support direct aid for refugees such as in Cluj and similar projects in Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.
Source: Sigmar Friedrich / Urs Schweizer / Rares Calugar