On a recent Wednesday at a train station in Szeged, a Hungarian crossroads near the border with Serbia, Eszter Virag-Meyer and Daniel Szatmary had one thing on their minds: Getting 35 asylum seekers they had met hours earlier onto the first train to the capital. “Keep your papers safe,” the two told the group. “Take more water. It’s going to be hot today.”
The refugees were silent until Rasheed, from Pakistan, spoke. “We’ll think back fondly on what you’ve done for us,” he told the Hungarians. The train lurched forward, Budapest-bound, in the 4:36 a.m. light.
Ms. Meyer, 22, and Mr. Szatmary, 29, didn’t know the foreigners passing through their town, or, in fact, each other, though they both live in the same Hungarian town of 130,000.
Normally, Ms. Meyer spends her time tending to a blog promoting a rooftop bar, and Mr. Szatmary has a job in information technology. But things haven’t been so normal lately in Szeged. As they watched the train carriages recede into the distance, they struggled to recall the last time they had slept.
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