Greetings from Poland!
We continue our mission of welcoming and helping the Ukrainian people who seek refuge in our country. We could not do it all without you! In our gratitude for your wonderful support, we want to share with you some stories from our reception centers in southeastern Poland.
We start on a medical note: for the first time, a dentist joined the group of our volunteer doctors. Together with his team, he did a great job adapting to the situation and setting up his makeshift practice immediately at out Przemyśl reception center.
The past month included a lot of learning. Among other things, we continued to learn how to work together as a team, how to solve the problems that come up, while the residents of our reception centers were learning Polish, English and French – depending on the availability of teachers throughout that time. Here are a few glimpses from our classrooms, some of them, thanks to the good weather in this season, qualifying as “outdoor learning.” ☺
Learning inevitably requires checking progress… Here are our students writing a test in their Polish language class.
The majority of our guests are women and children: kids whose childhood has been torn from them by this cruel war. We make every effort to keep their thoughts away from the disaster at home. We try to propose many fun activities, taking advantage of the beautiful nature around and of the talents and resources of our volunteers.
In the meantime, moms and grandmas can chat together while keeping an eye on their little ones.
There are plenty of places to walk around most of our reception centers, so there’s always a little expedition setting out somewhere: to a cave, a meadow, a mountain stream. And the destination is not the only thrill! On the way, the hikers can enjoy picking raspberries or, for instance, identifying footprints of wild animals.
We organize games of all sorts, from simple ball playing to some more complex competitions, such as those devised by the group of volunteers from a Catholic parish in France who drove to Poland in order to join us in our efforts.
Among our guests, there are quite a few seniors as well. At the invitation from a German organization, some of our residents could move to a care center in Germany. We drove them to Hanover where the center is located.
By granting us your generous support, you are also helping people like Oleksiy, the father of a large family. He arrived in Poland in March together with his wife and eight children from the Donetsk region. As a result of a car accident many years ago, he suffered a permanent and significant hearing loss, which in turn led to losing his job and the ability to go about on his own. He could not even hear how his eight children called him “father” for the first time. We were moved by his story and Fr. Marek, in cooperation with H. Pochyła, a local typhlo-pedagogue, and M. Miranowicz, the representative of Audiofon company, obtained a new hearing aid for Oleksiy. In this way, his life took on a new color: he can enjoy his children’s voices as well as music and all different sounds of nature! He can easily communicate with people and he has finally received a job offer. His family is happy and very grateful to all who made it happen.
Even though we are in the middle of summer, with very high temperatures, we try to think ahead and we have already begun our preparations for winter time. The costs of food and transport are soaring and we made sure to buy the foods that are now in abundance and can be stored for the cold months. There were many hands ready to work on pickles and other vegetables and fruit.
Your generous donations help us tremendously in our day-to-day expenses. We also file official requests for assistance where available and recently we received extra help from the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee. They sent us a very large container of humanitarian aid. Many of our team went to work and every pair of hands was occupied…
In the meantime in Polana, another barbecue was prepared by way of further integration for our residents.
We are very grateful for every one of your prayers and for every thought that you send our way. This spiritual support is crucial to us. Without it, facing our daily challenges would be so much harder, if at all possible. Thank you for walking along with us on this difficult path.
We are also grateful for every volunteer who joins our team. One of these wonderful people is sister Małgorzata of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. She is Polish but she had served in Ukraine for many years and now, after working with us for several months, she had to return to her community in Ukraine. While with us, she assumed different roles, from a spiritual mentor, her primary calling, to an unwearied driver. It was so hard to say goodbye to her! We still hope her superiors will let her return to us in the near future.
There were other goodbyes too, but of another sort. Dr. Brian Lisse, our volunteering physician, was leaving us too, but at the same time promising to return very soon. While in Przemyśl, like most of our volunteers, he had the chance to visit places like our train station which has witnessed the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees.
At the beginning of the war, innumerable journalists from all over the world were camped around that very station, delivering their live coverage or preparing reports for their media outlets. Now, the attention of most countries has turned elsewhere, tired of the news from this war which goes on and on.
In Poland, the awareness of what is happening just beyond our eastern border is still very high. We have recently had another visit from a southeastern TV station; they prepared a program about our project and interviewed some of the Ukrainian people staying with us.
To spread awareness about the current situation in Ukraine, which is as serious as it was back in February when the Russian attack took place, our director Fr. Marek, accompanied by one of our volunteers, Anna, went on a trip to Italy at the invitation of Don Alessandro, a pastor working in Sicily. Fr. Marek has long wanted to find cooperators in Italy so that some of our guests could have the opportunity to move there in search of a more permanent place to stay and a job. Two Ukrainian women took that chance right away and traveled with Fr. Marek; they were all received with wonderful warmth and kindness.
Before Fr. Marek left Italy, an article in the local paper told the story of our assistance program.
Back in Poland, other events this month included birthday parties (one doubly exceptional, for a 6-month old) and some other fun.
DZIĘKUJEMY = THANK YOU!
Among many other activities worth mentioning, our volunteer Marina, with her endless store of ideas, proposed a Bible study to the young minds. To make it more attractive, she chose to have it in a tent, which was pure fun in itself. ☺
This, and many other more mundane things, such as feeding the youngsters or cleaning the kitchen, is what has been happening in our reception centers over the past month.