Refugees in Bardo

On February 28, at our house “Jutrzenka” in Bardo, the first 6 people (2 mothers and 4 children) escaping from the war zones in Ukraine were admitted. Then more mothers with children started to arrive. 45 people found refuge within two weeks. One floor has been allocated for housing needs and has been appropriately adapted. The kitchens are equipped with the necessary utensils and the bathrooms have additional washing machines.

These people, leaving their family homes in a hurry, came to us in what they were wearing and with a small hand luggage. The priority task of the Sisters in the first days was not only to ensure a sense of security and rest after the exhausting journey, but also to provide clothes and food. Mothers with their children set off alone in the completely unknown and uncertain situation that will meet them, for many it was the first trip abroad. The women were very frightened by the war situation and the sudden necessity to leave their homes. The drama of the situation was heightened by the awareness of separation from loved ones. Despite the safe protection received, the traumatic experiences are intensified by concern and anxiety about husbands and parents left in Ukraine.

Immediately after arriving, worrying about their financial security, they were anxiously asking: what the cost of living will have to be and how long they will be able to stay in our house. Thanks to the openness of our religious authorities, the help received from Bardo’s institutions and individual donors, we were able to provide our new residents with things necessary for their further functioning and full board in the first days. Assistance in dealing with matters and documents sanctioning legal stay in Poland (PESEL, bank account, and assistance in submitting documentation for financial aid) was a big challenge. Still, in the midst of changing regulations and required documentation, we provide assistance in dealing with official matters and overcoming the language barrier.

After more than a month’s stay, the situation of refugees is gradually stabilizing. School children continue their education and preschool children attend kindergarten classes with great enthusiasm. Grateful adults for the help they received seek an opportunity to become independent and obtain their own financial resources. Therefore, we started efforts to find permanent employment. Thanks to the kindness of employers, 3 people have already started work and other 7 are in the process of arranging the necessary formalities to conclude a contract of employment. Despite the sense of security and decent housing conditions received, the ladies hope that the war will end soon and eagerly await the return to their loved ones in Ukraine.

On behalf of the entire community and the Congregation, we would like to thank all the people who cannot be mentioned here, who contributed to the implementation of this noble initiative. We would like to thank all the benefactors who helped with an open heart and care about ensuring decent living and material conditions for the people staying in our house.

sr. Oliwia