A Cacophony of People!

Our 3rd day in TESCO was full – full of all sorts of people, constant movement of people, watching out for traffickers, listening to 3pm singing outside, an invitation to talk with an older person even though we didn’t speak each other’s language, eating Polish Kielbasa for dinner (delicious, but kept me full for hours!), and finally meeting up with my friend and her 2 children from yesterday.

Around 11am, I went outside in the parking lot where the outdoor WCK is set up. They had just been told how to watch for traffickers. Inside was mostly safe with lots of checks and security. But outside is a different story. Anyone can be there. A young woman, maybe 20yo or so, was playing the piano outside. This guy with a video camera, and his male friend, started taking a video of her. I asked him to stop and he said she gave permission. I was totally nosy, and said to her that it’s not a good idea to let men photograph or video her and explained what little I know about traffickers, ending with it’s just not safe. She asked him to stop. He kept filming. I asked him to stop; he didn’t. So I walked over to him and covered the lens of his camera and told him to go away. He did. When I went over to the outdoor WCK site, they had taken a photo of him… but there he was. He and his friend took off after I showed up. I surprised even myself! Crazy! My mama bear instincts kicked in.

Lunch was busy, but uneventful. So many people eating, figuring out travel plans; children looking lost with blank eyes, babies and toddlers crying, families going in and out, etc., etc. I got in a rest in the car from 3-4, then back in the building. I took a walk in the large sleeping room where some older women and men had their cots all day long. One woman who I connected with earlier was lying down, but she saw me and motioned me over. I helped her sit up, and she motioned for me to sit on her bed and we ”talked.” We had almost no common language, but somehow could ask about family. She teared up at one point, as did I when she referred to someone (a son? a grandson?) who was still in Ukraine who she talked with and is ok. But she was worried about him. When I got as far as I could go language-wise, I went to get Helen. The memorable thing she told us was that she was fine staying at the shelter – she had people around her, made new friends, got her meals, etc. – even though it’s noisy, the lights are always on, and there’s constant movement around her. As I left, I saw women ”shopping” for underwear across the way from her cot location. There’s a free store where folks can get pretty much whatever they need.

So, one last vignette for the day. Just as we were leaving, I saw the young mom and her 2 kids from yesterday. The 1 year old was tired and not up for a stranger trying to be friendly. But the mom and I were so happy to see each other. I didn’t think I’d see her again. She told me that she wasn’t going back to Ukraine. Her home had been in a town near Mariupol. I know nothing about her husband or her family – we didn’t get that far in our conversation. But she told me she is staying in Poland, maybe in Przemysl. She wanted to start working. Maybe even for WCK. She wanted to help people. We said goodnight. Out in the car heading back to our flat, Helen and Bruce suggested we give her money to start her new life. So, U-turn! I went back in and found her, gave her an envelope, and tried my best to communicate to open it later. And I left. As I left, I felt so emotional. What a thing to be able to do… like nothing I’ve ever done before. I hope I’ll see her tomorrow, but maybe I’ll never see her again. Just know that ”we,” all of us!, gave a young mom a boost to start her new life.

2 thoughts on “A Cacophony of People!”

  1. Such wonderful stories, Sandy and beautifully written! And how wonderful to know that the $$ raised is helping a woman and her familty start a new life! And keep trusting you instincts — the “Mama Bear” knows what she is doing. THANK YOU


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