Hungarian Charity Service of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta

Egy földrengés sújtotta szíriai városba telepített mobil rendelő
A mobile clinic installed in an earthquake-stricken Syrian city, 2023
Source: Magyar Máltai Szeretetszolgálat

The Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta is the Hungarian branch of the more than 900-year-old Sovereign Military Order of Malta which was established on February 4, 1989 by its chairman Imre Kozma OH.

Just a few months after it was established, the Charity Service went down in the annals of history by receiving refugees from East Germany. In the 1990s, it focused its efforts on severe social tensions, which led to the foundation of the network that cares for the homeless, institutions that provide care for the elderly, and programs to assist persons with physical and mental disabilities.

Today, the Charity Service has grown to become one of the nation’s largest charitable organizations, working with an average of 15 thousand people every day. Its employees and volunteers provide service in the Christian spirit. The Maltese Charity Service was the first to make glasses for the homeless, to open a wheelchair repair shop, and to introduce a signaling home care system. According to the Maltese approach, true assistance lies not in offering help in the moment but rather in a long-term commitment to people in need.

The Maltese Charity Service oversees the catching up of Hungary’s 300 most disadvantaged settlements: the program lasts from conception to employment, with a constant, active, compassionate presence accompanying the people living on the areas, so that difficulties that have seemed intractable for decades are replaced by solutions, and need is replaced by sustainable self-care. A fundamental experience of these people is an absence of opportunities and a general sense of hopelessness due to a lack of means. The way out may just be a diagnostic program that helps these regions catch up, which is precisely what the Catching-up Settlements Program offers.

The Charity Service’s regional centers are located all around the country. Care for the homeless takes the form of street-based care services, homeless shelters, night shelters, and doctor’s offices; people with disabilities and the elderly are cared for by homes and care services. The Maltese organization also runs 8 kindergartens, 6 primary schools, and 4 secondary education institutions. The first “social” playground was created as the first element of the “Play to Prevent” complex program. The program was launched to help move people living in prefabricated housing developments out from among the four walls by offering them a community space at playgrounds and playhouses where they can participate in games, socialize, and converse. The House of Acceptance provides assistance to families left temporarily or permanently without a roof over their heads to allow them to continue living as a family and to give them an opportunity to find a solution to their problems. The Houses of Providence provide daytime care to the elderly and persons with serious disabilities. The Presence program is based on permanent, intensive social work conducted in urban slums and impoverished small settlements. Additional program elements are implemented using diagnoses established with the help of locals. Today, the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta operates in a dozen slums and Roma settlements across the country.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is one of the oldest institutions of the Western Christian world. Its mission is to be at the service of the poor, the sick, refugees, and marginalized communities. As a sovereign entity of international law, it maintains diplomatic relations with 112 states and the European Union, and has permanent observer status at the United Nations General Assembly. The Order of Malta primarily carries out its charity work in Hungary by way of the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta. Additionally, it organizes the annual handicapped ball in Budapest as well as annual pilgrimages to Lourdes for groups of Hungarian patients and their caregivers and to the annual international camp for the disabled; it also maintains a rental service for medical aids, has several active members in the Ukrainian Maltese organizations, and collects donations.