How a 16 year old Afghan refugee saved the life of a Hungarian homeless man

On Thursday, a homeless man in Budapest’s economically disadvantaged 8th District became agitated as he waited outside a small soup kitchen in Bérkocsis Street. The man may have been intoxicated, as he waited for his meal in Budapest’s relentless heatwave, with temperatures soaring to above 36 Celsius. According to eyewitnesses, the middle aged man became impatient and broke the glass door to the soup kitchen, puncturing his artery in the process. Bystanders and volunteers were horrified, as the man began to rapidly bleed to death in front of their very eyes.

Sixteen year old Aziz, one of over 106,000 refugees who have arrived in Hungary this year, was in the neighbourhood, and having lived through the violence and horrors of armed conflict in Afghanistan, he intervened and took the lead in halting the bleeding, during the long minutes before the ambulance arrived to the scene.

Eyewitnesses were astounded by how confidently and professionally this 16 year old boy was able to handle the life threatening situation. The paramedics took almost 20 minutes to arrive, and during this time it was Aziz who held back the bleeding and tried to bring calm to an alarming situation unfolding on the streets of central Budapest. The injured man remains in critical condition at a Budapest hospital.

What people soon learned is that Aziz is, himself, homeless in the Hungarian capital. He is living in an 8th District park. His father was killed back home in Afghanistan and he lost his mother and his siblings on the long, harrowing journey from Central Asia, through southeastern Europe and into Hungary, and has yet to be reunited with them.

When journalists from the Index news site asked Aziz about his act of courage and compassion, he responded that it was just the normal, natural thing to do.

A photo of Aziz, after his courageous and compassionate intervention in Budapest. The photo was sent to us by Szilárd Kalmár, who knew Aziz personally during his stay in Budapest.

A photo of Aziz, after his courageous and compassionate intervention in Budapest. The photo was sent to us by Szilárd Kalmár, who knew Aziz personally during his stay in Budapest.

“I am human and so is he. He was in trouble and I knew what I had to do. I did not have to think about it; not even for a moment,” said Aziz. Index journalists began referring to him as the “hero of Bérkocsis Street,” though it seems that this young man sees this as nothing more than a normal act of humanity.

Since Thursday, Aziz began volunteering at the local soup kitchen…in fact, when journalists caught up with him, he was busy slicing peppers and dicing tomatoes, for use in a traditional Hungarian lecsó, which they were serving to guests.

Aziz’s act of kindness was captured by a photographer behind the Facebook page entitled, Budapest Seen, which documents–through startling photography–the refugee crisis unfolding in the streets, parks and railway stations of Budapest. Earlier today, the page’s administrator published a graphic that read “Je suis Aziz.”

I hope that this story of humanity gets across to a broader Hungarian audience. Maybe it will nuance the views being pedalled by government officials and their media on the influx of “dangerous,” “dirty,” “uncivilized” foreigners invading the country and diluting its population and the Hungarian national character. Hungary needs people just like Aziz; I hope he submits a request for asylum and I hope that he is able to stay. Budapest will be all the better for it.

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