May 4: Ukraine/Poland Border in 48 Hours

submitted by Valerie Renk

Alan Klugman and Joe Shumow shared details May 4 of their humanitarian visit to the border of Poland and Ukraine.  They visited four refugee centers, meeting with volunteers and some of Poland’s three million Ukraine refugees as part of a Jewish Federation delegation. 

Their visit lasted only 48 hours, but they heard stories of a lifetime. They met a refugee who told of meeting family with a son paralyzed from the neck down. The family took turns carrying him for three days, finally collapsing. With help from many, they were able to finally emigrate safely to Warsaw.   

Another moving story was an 87-year-old-woman, left at the border with volunteers by her son who went back for family. This made the elderly woman relive World War II memories.  Happily, her son was able to reunite her and his family.

It was powerful, they said, to sit in Warsaw and feel safe, as this is an historically war-torn

area. The Polish government paid for two of the refugee centers and other resources. Over three million refugees have been accepted in Poland; 300,000 Poles have opened their homes to offer safety at their own cost.

What can we do to help?  Giving is paramount. Many groups are raising money, including Jewish Federation (www.jewishmadison.org) , and Rotary international (https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-responds-ukraine-crisis).   

Volunteering is also needed; local volunteers were all races and religions of people who had a previous connection to Ukraine who wanted to give back. They were often sharing a sweater, a blanket, a cup of coffee, and a hug.  Volunteers are needed who speak Russian.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zeu_VSr5Uo&t=1504s.

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