Budapest bikers hand out sandwiches and hope for Christmas

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BUDAPEST (Reuters) – On a cold night earlier than Christmas, greater than a dozen cyclists emerge from the basement of an outdated condominium constructing in Budapest with backpacks filled with sandwiches to feed the homeless.

Volunteers of Budapest Bike Maffia, a Hungarian civil group of biking followers who assist the poor and homeless, make sandwiches to be distributed by bike in Budapest, Hungary December 10, 2019. Picture taken December 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tamas Kaszas

They are the Budapest Bike Maffia, a voluntary organisation that brings collectively individuals who love biking and need to assist these in want.

“It is not only good to give, but it’s our obligation. It simply gives a positive experience when we can help someone,” mentioned Zoltan Havasi, 43, who gave up his job as a graphic designer when he based the Bike Maffia eight years in the past.

They have round 150 volunteers in Budapest and dozens extra in different Hungarian cities.

“The Budapest Bike Maffia team are great … and people are so open to those who want to join that this has created a true community,” Havasi mentioned.

On Tuesday, using by way of Budapest streets embellished with Christmas lights, they distributed 4,000 meals to these in want.

Hungary’s nationalist authorities made tough sleeping a criminal offense final yr and gave police the ability to order homeless individuals to maneuver into shelters.

There are round 4,500 homeless individuals dwelling in shelters in Budapest and about 1,200 extra on the streets, mentioned Peter Gyori, chairman of the Menhely (Shelter) basis, including that the bikers’ work was a “great initiative”.

The Budapest Bike Maffia runs a number of initiatives, together with the “vitamin commando”, once they distribute blankets, foam mattresses, winter coats and sandwiches twice per week.

Noemi Poos joined the Bike Maffia 4 years in the past to beat her worry of using within the metropolis. Since then she has turn into an avid biker and a helper on the charity.

“There is this rock ‘n’ roll feeling. It sounds really cool that we get together and go around town by bike. We help people and we also have a great time,” she mentioned.

In a shelter, two younger guys are given sandwiches and blankets, which they are saying come in useful within the chilly.

“And you don’t even want anything in return,” one in every of them says with a smile.

Reporting by Krisztina Fenyo, Balazs Kaufmann; Writing by Krisztina Than; Editing by Giles Elgood

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