'You have a feeling of solidarity. I really agree the new saying that Poland is now one big NGO.’ says Katarzyna Szaniawska, Social Project Coordinator Fundacja Dobrich Inicjatyw, our allie in Poland, sat with us to share the experience on the polish border during the war Russia-Ukraine.
UW: What have changed in your life since Ukrainian war started?
KS: What is happening on the other side of the-border was a great shock. I was looking at the television transmission from Kyiv, Mariupol, Kherson and couldn’t believe how is it possible that such war erupted in the middle of Europe in XXI century. I feel anxious all the time since then. I couldn’t sleep for many nights. I am from a generation which never experienced war. We only spoke about war in my family home, I heard a lot of stories from my parents and grandparents but I have never thought that I will be worried about my future and future of my children in Poland.
UW: Experience connected with situation in Ukraine is very difficult for all of us, how do you manage the stress?
KS: It is very hard for me. I was checking the news and current situation every minute. I keep hoping that the war is going to end soon with Ukraine’s victory and millions of women and children will be able to get back to their homes and families and they will be safe again. I am trying to watch less TV and concentrate on helping the refugees who came to Poland. By acting for refugees I feel that I have some influence on their peace. In times when there are so many uncertainties the feeling of agency and impact is very important for me.
UW: What do you do for Ukrainians in Poland and in Ukraine?
KS: Fundacja Dobrych Inicjatyw, where I work started acting for Ukraine a few hours after the Russian invasion erupted. We opened financial and material collections. We helped organise transport for Kyiv and Ivano-Frankivsk, we co-operate with NGOs in Ukraine to finance help for Ukrainians. Moreover we are supporting refugees in Warsaw by preparing packages with food, cosmetics, hot dishes and many others. By co-operating with local autonomies we are trying to deliver help where it is most needed. A lot of volunteers offer their help and I coordinate their work. Every day there is a lot going on in our office. Additionally we receive many phone calls and emails from Poland, Europe and other parts of the world with the question ‘How can I help?’.
UW: How do you handle these new challenges in Fundacja Dobrych Inicjatyw?
KS: We needed to change our schedule and launch a lot of help channels in a very short period of time. It is a big challenge but when you see dozens of volunteers who come to us after their day jobs, bring shopping, engage with neighbours, invite refugees to their homes you have a feeling of solidarity and you know that this is very important. I really like the new saying that Poland is now one big NGO, I totally agree with it.
Volunteers, communities and network on the ground first provide support for basic needs, relocation and art therapy. Education, Jobs and Financial Stability are steps to be addressed in the times coming up.
We hope Individuals and corporates get a sense of the reality with the stories our teams are collecting. If you feel moved, we all can help. Support our efforts by donating on the following page: #UnitedForUkraine