Some Personal Refugee Stories

Hello from Przemysl in Poland,

After one day in Warsaw and a four and a half hour drive, we arrived at our wonderful little 2 bedroom apartment in Przemysl. In addition to 2 bedrooms, it’s 2 most wonderful features are an espresso machine and the fact that it is just 15 minutes from “work”.

Our first evening, Sunday, we went to a border entry point, and it was relatively quiet. A number of NGOs had tents along the entry/exit path and it seemed that more Ukrainians were leaving that were coming in. (See first picture) We made contact with a woman who runs an NGO that provides services for mothers with young children including a space to breast feed and change diapers; we hope to meet up with her in person.

As you know, we are volunteering with World Central Kitchen. We are working in what was a large shopping center now used for processing refugees and providing a multitude of services from beds to medical to care for pets.From 9-9 we have been serving meals, coffee and tea, paninis, but no vodka shots. As you have heard from Sandy and Bruce 100s of refugees are living at this site. I would like to tell you about a few who your contributions have helped:

—Marina is 18, traveling with her mother and her 15 year old brother (see picture below of her and her brother); she was unclear about the status of her father. She spoke quite good English, which made it easy to communicate (and my Russian is quickly improving). They had to leave everything behind, including a puppy and a means for earning a living. Somehow it was decided that they would go to Denmark but they have no real contacts there but seemed upbeat that they could leave today and not spend another night sleeping in a room with c. 250 other people.

—Sasha, who speaks virtually no English, is traveling with his mother. She is an invalid who previously had mild dementia but the trauma of war and leaving her home has left her totally mentally incapacitated. He seems to be taking very good care of her but I sense that he may close to his wits end. He said that he was told that he and his mom would be going to Helsinki where they know no one. He hopes that he will be able to get work as a mechanic after they settle in but is worried about who will take care of his mom.

And so it goes…so many lives, so much sorrow, so much coping. We do what we can with food and kind words and smiles. But there is so much that needs being done.