Kiwi journalist Sophia Duckor-Jones is in Hungary, where the refugee crisis in Europe has come to a head. The former Newstalk ZB reporter shares her first-hand account of trying to help some of the migrants.

I didn't really know what to expect when I arrived at Keleti station in Budapest.

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Even the word refugee was slightly foreign to me. All I knew were that there were thousands of them, holed up at the station.

Trapped. In the past few weeks, news reports have been stating there are more refugees in Europe today than in World War II.


I had heard there were about 3000 refugees at the train station, but to me that was just a number. I had never seen 3000. What does 3000 refugees look like?

I arrived in Budapest on Monday night local time, for what was supposed to be part of my three month OE.

On Wednesday morning I found out what the number 3000 looked like. I stepped off onto the platform at Keleti station and gasped. I wanted to cry.

Families were spread about the platform. Tents were set up everywhere. Tired, sleeping bodies became the makeshift carpet. Mothers held their crying babies. Fathers sat, angry.

I had to help, but I didn't know how. I can't give these families a home. I can't change policy.

It was early in the morning when I arrived, and only one little store was open.

I walked in and brought six big water bottles, bread, and bananas.

I had to think carefully about who I gave the goods too. A horrible decision to have to make, and if I could afford to by food for 3000 refugees, I would.

I made the decision that I would deliver first and foremost to families with young children. A family of seven had claimed the middle of the station floor. The mother was breast feeding, and as I approached her, I could see she had been crying.Her children were starving. I gave them the food, which they engulfed within what seemed to be a few minutes.

I watched them eat, as if it was the first time they had ever eaten. The mother thanked me. Her eyes, which had appeared sad, suddenly had a glimmer of hope. I provided three families with this amount of food. I cleared my wallet out, but it was more than worth it.

Photo / Sophia Duckor-Jones
Photo / Sophia Duckor-Jones

I stepped over the sea of refugees, and wandered outside to the upper level.

More tents and blankets were strewn about. Hungarian police were guarding the outside of the station, making sure no refugee got on a train.

Photo / Sophia Duckor-Jones
Photo / Sophia Duckor-Jones

Screams echoed through the crowd as refugees attempted to plead their case. Cries of "But I paid for this ticket" were repeated.

I briefly spoke to the father of the last family I provided food for. His family had come from Syria. I asked him how he felt about how the EU is dealing with the refugees.

"We risked our lives fleeing our country. And for what? To live on the floor of a train station?"

Perhaps what angered me most, though, were the bystanders. Those who walked past, ignoring what was happening right in front of them. Those who stared, took photos, and then left.

Thousands of refugees remain stranded at Budapest’s main international railway station, with Hungarian authorities - sticking to European Union rules - preventing them from moving on to Germany and other countries to the west.

These are people who need our help. They're not objects to take pictures of.

It made me question where people's hearts are.If you see them, help them. I'm nowhere near rich, and I am travelling on the tightest budget. But if I am able to provide for three families on a next to nothing budget, you can too.

I am in Hungary until Sunday, and every morning I am going to bring food and water to as many people as I can on my budget.