United World Project


VOICES | POLAND: 100 days of hospitality

31 May 2022   |   Poland, Ukraine, Focolare Movement

The writer is Katarzyna Wasiutynska of Katowice, who is closely following, for the Focolare Movement, the accommodations for the Ukrainian refugees. Through her voice, we capture the everyday of a persevering hospitality that is never taken for granted, that talks about fraternity amongst the people and the nations.

By Katarzyna Wasiutynska

In a week we will reach a 100 days of the war between Russia and Ukraine. Unfortunately, it has become, against all our hopes, part of our daily life. We would never want to get used to the images of violence and death as we learn, step by step to make coexistence among different nations and solidarity natural.

Our Ukrainian friends of the Eastern rite celebrate Easter one week after the Catholics do and this year, in Poland, we saw many of them walking the streets with baskets to bless for the solemn meal on Sunday morning. The people of the Fiore Mariapoli (citadel of the Focolare Movement in Poland) were invited to the feast by the refugees accommodated in the citadel, while Asia and Jacek, the family that manages the Unity Centre in Krakow, received as a surprise, two traditional Ukrainian Easter dishes: “cholodec” and “Pasqua”.

The money collected by the Fiore Association, besides covering the ordinary expenses related to the accommodation of the refugees, are also needed for educational purposes: as of now there are four groups that participate in the Polish language course, five days a week. Some children follow the Ukrainian school program, helped by a teacher, Mrs. Walentyna. To this end, the internet has been reinforced in some places of the citadel.

The collaboration with other countries is precious, for example, with Italy. The journeys of the New Horizons drivers continuo, with a stop at the men’s Focolare of Katowice, to bring them some Ukrainian families. We know of three families who are presently at Loppiano.

Recently, two young Italians came to us with the desire to help in a concrete way those who escaped the war. Sara and Paola have organized, both at the Unity Centre in Krakow and at the Fiore Mariapoli, some art therapy workshops. It was a celebration of friendship, emotions, colours, hope amidst the pain: an unforgettable experience for all the participants! Some very beautiful works were created (see photos).

Here are a few words from the protagonists:

«Thank you for this wonderful meeting, full of warmth and positive emotions. We had the occasion to unite with other Ukrainians, feel each other, express our feelings and thoughts, our hope and faith in a peace close to our motherland. We are very grateful to all the polish people who help us here all the time, and support us. A big thank you to Sara and Paula who organized this party! With affection!», Yuliia.

«It was an unforgettable moment. We were immersed, in the art therapy activities for a few hours. We painted, we expressed our feelings on paper. There were people of all ages, youth and the elderly, mothers with their children. In our drawings we saw something in common: all of us want a blue and serene sky above our heads and we all wish to go back home, to reunite with our families and relatives.  These activities were precious for our emotions and inner peace. We thank the therapists who came and were there with us. We take the opportunity to say a huge thank you to the people of Poland for their care and support! They opened wide their arms. May peace and love win!!! ». Tetiana and Nina

«One evening, I heard that a girl from Ukraine was dreaming for a Barbie doll. I knew that the next day a few girls would have come. So, I wrote to them about this dream. I added saying that there were two other girls of the same age. That evening they replied to me saying that they already had one Barbie available and the following morning they immediately found two more. Then, I realized that it was the smallest of the girls, who was six years’ old who gave her dolls as a gift. I also invited the smaller girls, to give her the possibility to come. She had wished for it! There was a great joy». Ania

From the 6th to the 8th of May, to conclude the united world week, the youth of the Focolare Movement organized a few games and activities in the Fiore citadel for the children staying there and in another structure in the vicinity.

Joasia confides to us that she had animated some theatrical improvisation workshop. «It was nice to share our talents, very different. Despite the fatigue, the harmony and the satisfaction of what we did touched me. I hope it’s not only a one-time activity». And Alek continues: «What happens to me is all an expression of God’s love for me, even though I do not understand it and it often overcomes me. So, I tried living these days at Fiore, loving a 100% in the present moment: during the integration games with the children from Ukraine, during the football match, during the accommodation work taken together. After having loved to the fullest I received even more: the smiles of the Ukrainian families, some good food to take home as well as the immediate repair of my laptop once I mentioned its small problem to another youth! Thank you indeed! ».

We don’t know where this unexpected and absurd story will take us. Amongst the refugees (as of now there are more than 3 million 600 thousand Ukrainians, mostly women and children who have entered Poland) there are those who have already decided to return home, those who have found job opportunities and accommodation in other countries leaving Poland as well as those who think to remain for the time being, on our side. Each option brings with it insecurity. But, one tries to live the present moment, bringing the good of which we are capable of today: preparing the typical Ukrainian “pierogi” that always encounters great enthusiasm, learning each other’s language, spending free time together… Trying to save the family spirit, that is very important to rediscover the reasons to live and to still believe in a happy future.