When the war in Ukraine began, many refugees came to Poland.
Some came to live near our community, mostly mothers with children and older people.
We decided to organize meetings for the children. We wanted to give them a space where they could be distracted from their traumatic memories of war.
The children came to us every Thursday. The first thing we did was to offer them cookies and drinks. Then Ula prepared some handicrafts. We organized some artistic and patriotic activities that you can see in the pictures. Two sisters from our community, Ula and Malgorzata, lived in Russia for several years so they can speak pretty good Russian. Therefore, it was easier to communicate with the children. Ula told the children in a simple way that they, their world, and their emotions are important. Then they had the opportunity to be together, play, laugh, talk, etc. When the weather grew hot, we got out and played outside. The children eagerly told us about their experiences at school in Ukraine and about their new experiences at school in Poland. They tried to adjust to their new reality. We could see that relocating, being around new people, and learning a new language, etc. was a challenge for the children, but we also saw that this new experience was a great adventure for them. The children were very interested, open and curious.
In the beginning, about twelve children came to us. In the following weeks, there were fewer and fewer children, because many of them moved to other places with their families. It was such a nice time when the children came to us. It was very enjoyable. Due to the children moving and going to school after Easter we temporarily stopped holding the meetings, but we will start them up again if we see that it is necessary.
The war in Ukraine continues. Many refugees returned to Ukraine with the hope that the war would soon end. But many of them stayed here in Poland or moved to another country to find safety. It is becoming normal for us to meet Ukrainian people every day on the bus, on the street, and in the supermarket as an employee or as a customer. But it is important that we do not forget why they cannot return to the home where they left their lives.
The war is still going on, we cannot forget it.
- Ilona Matuszewska