So many things happening and so many things changing.

The flow of people coming into Przemysl has slowed, but at the train station, it is still putting a lot of stress on the immigration process. To alleviate some of this stress, rather than process everyone at the facility where we work, Ukrainians who are going to other places in Poland are told to just get on a train and go. Ukrainians hoping to go to other countries are still coming the Tesco (or facility). So the with number of people coming to the facility getting lower every day, it looks like it may be closed fairly soon. The volunteers working directly for the facility are all wondering what happens next. Every one of them that I have spoken with came to Przemysl on their own and were accepted as volunteers on the spot. For many of them it has become their home. There is a great sense of uncertainty among the ranks.

Serving food to the same people many meals in a row, I begin to recognize them and I think of them as part of my community. So when the ones I have made even only a nodding connection with disappear, I always feel a little sad. This morning a young man probably in his late teens who has always politely greeted me with “Hello Bruce” (we wear name tags) came in and told me that he leaving today. I asked were and he said Amsterdam. I learned that he has no family there and is traveling alone. We shook hands and I warmly wished him all the best. He left and I was tearful. It made me wonder about the older gentleman who shuffled a little bit and has a significant vision impairment who didn’t come in today and a gentle giant who missed his sons who I haven’t seen for a couple of days. How do you adapt to new surroundings when you are old, frail, and have difficulty seeing. What is it like to go to a new place with not only a different language, but a different alphabet too.

Yesterday, I met Curtin. He goes by his last name. Curtin is dedicated to logistics. He lives with some buddies in a corner of Tesco. He came there in the beginning as a volunteer. With rotating shifts, he and others slept in the aisles between pallets of good being delivered to the facility. Some time ago, he ceased being a volunteer, but decided to remain in the facility. Nobody seems to mind. They have built a makeshift wall for sleeping and have chairs and a couple of places for laptops outside of it. For awhile they would find people in need and bring them what they needed, using supplies from the facility. It was allowed then. Now, Curtin connects people who have stuff with people who need the stuff. He then finds people who can deliver the goods, which usually requires driving a van into Ukraine and trading vehicles with a Ukrainian who drives the goods to the final destination. Their only need for money seems to be paying for gasoline. The goods seem to be mostly donated and drivers are volunteers who often pay for the gas out of their own pockets. Gasoline is expensive and once in Ukraine you are limited to buying 10 liters at a time, so they must bring enough extra fuel in gas cans to complete the trip. Last night they did a trip where the cost of fuel was almost $900! Someone else we know, one of his buddies, who was one of the drivers, showed us pictures of the van packed with games and goods for children at a school. Curtain was generous with his time for. He showed us diagrams, strengths and weakness assessments and a chart with people and organizations he wants to connect. He is old school. Everything he showed us was written in a notebook. The man struck us as passionate about what he is doing, smart and singularly focused on outcomes. We asked about fundraising and he said that they are looking at corporate sponsors and talked about the people they are trying to engage to connect them. We excused ourselves to discuss how much we wanted to donate to him and then went to the bank. He was quite surprised when we gave him a large stack of 200 Zloty notes($50 bills).

2 thoughts on “So many things happening and so many things changing.”

  1. It must feel good to be able help like that Bruce…especially actually passing on the cash to someone who really really needs it.

  2. This is hitting me with so much emotion. I appreciate these updates and am so proud of your work.

    I send love to every one there. Hugs.


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