Work or no work, Hungary still lovable
Migrants in Hungary like any other European countries are facing many challenges. One of these challenges is getting a permanent job that will secure their staying far away from their home countries.
Before anything else, they must endeavour to learn the language since Hungarian is unique in itself. To be able to find something tangible, migrants are constrained to learn Hungarian, which many described as difficult.
Archie Bonka recalls how the language barrier prevented him from securing a job in a Hungarian company. “Years back,” says Mr. Bonka, “I applied for this job but language barrier dropped me out.”
Apparently migrants want to work but the language barrier couples with the fact that the job is not there make it a tougher experience for migrants in this Danube region. “The job is not there, so how can migrants get job?”
As a result and as a matter of putting food on the table, migrants are being indirectly inspired to be creative; to be independent.
Especially those migrants outside the European Union who are often referred to as third country nationals; they have since taken destiny into their own hands. Majority of them are selling in the market while a quite few who could raise capital open their own restaurants catering for their country nationals as well as Hungarians.
Such approach does not guarantee instant recognition in terms of social wealth, partly because of “huge tax” system. “The so-called tax is killing me,” declares Rose Mary who is the owner of an African eatery situated in downtown Budapest. Ms Rose confides that she is planning to move to another European country.
When he first came to Hungary, Itopa Tersoo says he was motivated to look for a job besides schooling but could not find one. It was an unforgettable experience mainly because of the disappointment that set in. “It was almost impossible for me to live the kind of life that I had already imagined in my heart before I came to Europe,” explains Mr. Tersoo, “I was frustrated and disappointed at the same time.”
Not every migrant thinks the language is a barrier. Says Blal Abdul Mnam who came to Hungary as a tourist: “Learning Hungarian is not a problem for me because I am a fast learner”. However he adds that his biggest hardship upon arrival in Hungary was immigration due to administrative bureaucracy in getting a resident permit.
The possibility of finding a job is different for each person.
Zoran Podrumac, who has been in Hungary for 6 years, says “Finding a student job [is] quite easy but the money is nothing to write about."
Unfortunately, the opportunity of finding a job significantly drops once stepping out of the capital city.
Artur Lenart, who has been here for 11 years claims that job hunting is “neither easy nor hard, although it always takes several months to find a good job here,” he laments.
Maria Kozlovskaya who speaks Hungarian and Russian fluently has had a tough time finding a good job, even after obtaining her bachelor’s degree from a Hungarian college.
For Kasai Jnofinn, record producer, recording artist, and businessman, being a migrant is an advantage. He says he wouldn’t want to trade this opportunity for anything else.
Mr. Jnofinn seems to know the power of being pragmatic when he quips “I am learning the language. It will enable me to live in Hungary. You know, without it you can do but little.”
If every migrant complains of challenges of getting a job in Hungary, there is probably one man who has a different perspective. Charles, who commands 25,000 HUF per hour, says he is having the fun of his life. Apart from being the first black man to drive a commercial limousine in Hungary, Mr. Charles could not hide his enthusiasm driving tourists around in this exotic car. “I feel good. I feel great to see myself driving this car.”
Although there are complains; although there are challenges – of getting work and securing resident permit, migrants here still love the country they describe as beautiful and peaceful. Especially if they can just find something doing; something that can put food on the table as well as pay bills which is mounting up.
“I like Hungary and I’d love to live here,” says Kenneth who does not want his surname published, adding that “as much as my spirit stays here, the reality of things might eventually dampen such a wish simply because I am finding it difficult to secure a daily bread.”
This article is one of the migrants’ contributions to the project Migration to the Centre and was created with the cooperation of the Center for Independent Journalism Budapest.
The article has been written with support of the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union and the International Visegrad Fund. The article reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Hakeem Babalola is a freelance writer/journalist whose works have appeared in local, national & international media. A Nigerian residing in Hungary, he is the managing editor African News Hungary and writes on general human interests, especially human rights and migrants' issues.