The aftermath of the Ukrainian/Russian War impacs children beyond the Ukrainian borders. People For People Foundation is committed to support all displaced persons, regardless of age and background. This inclusive approach has taken Julia from the foundation and Silke, from Movement on the Ground to reflect on the practical ways our partnership can assist a group of 121 children from only 1 to 18 years of age in an orphanage in Wiezyca, Poland.
Silke and Julia, what is your role in the your foundation and why did you join?
Julia: I am the project lead at People for People. I decide, together with the Foundation Director, the projects we can take on in terms of capacity and alignment with our strategy, and then I make sure I have colleagues that are interested in working on them. Among other reasons, I decided to join People for People because a former colleague of mine is Ukrainian herself, and I have Russian friends, so I saw the struggles first hand. I really like that we help all people affected by this war.
Silke: I have been with Movement on the Ground for about 2.5 years, mostly in Greece where I worked for two years on the island of Lesvos. I moved to Poland in May, where I took on the role of Program coordinator at the facility. Our main goal here has been to implement a summer schedule for the kids whilst they are on summer break. Now the kids throughout the summer enjoy daily activities such as water sports, regular sports, survival activities and English classes.
What was the most special memory or anecdote from your visit?
Julia: I have many, but I still become emotional (and I hope it will last forever) when I think of all the positive energy I got from some of the kids, kids that are happy in the camp, and luckily well taken care of. Also meeting Wieslaw Baryla, the camp’s director, who said yes in a call to assisting this group on the second week of the war and has been personally incredibly involved since day one to make the lives of them a little bit nicer and easier.
What was the biggest challenge faced by children you visited?
Julia: The children really starved for the first two months. Luckily, the situation improved and they are receiving financial support from the Polish government as well as donations. However, we anticipate that the Polish support will be cut from September 2022 onwards, so they still need a lot of help. Even if the war ends tomorrow, the kids will not get back to Ukraine probably until Easter break 2023, as it will not be safe for such a group. I will tell you more about this later in the interview.
Photo: Current standard room for children in the camp
What is an example of impacts we have made so far? What can we do more?
Julia: Thanks to our partnership with Vodafone Foundation, we managed to get wifi connection in the camp. This connection is crucial for following online education. Also we sent a €10K donation that is going to be used for the renovation -not the furniture- of one of the 4 pavilions where the kids live. That will be a game changer specially for winter, as the pavilions are not prepared for that period (this place used to be a summer camp) and Polish winters are cold and long. Still, there is a need for funding or materials for the renovation and furniture of another 2 pavilions. Donations for supporting the staff onsite so they will not need to be cut when the Polish Government stops the funding.
Together we have achieved great outcomes for these wonderful and resilient children, and that could not have been possible without our partners and donors.
Silke: I agree with Julia. We have to remember that this facility has been used for years as a summer camp, with summer weather conditions and temporary use. With the children staying here indefinitely, for an extended period of time, they will likely spend the duration of winter here as well. With the help of People for People and donors, the facility could be better equipped for such weather conditions and thorough use of the camp. You can find ways you can have a look at Movement On the Ground.
Photo: Damage caused in the camp by a major storm
What is the role of our partnership in achieving the goal?
Julia: Amplify Movement on the Ground’s message, activate our network to help this cause and find partners that can fulfill this demand. We will soon be able to send another pallet of chocolate thanks to a donation from Tony’s Chocolonely which is great, and we are looking into ways to attend the next urgent items for the minors.
Lastly, an urgent need for these children is staffing at the camp. With the Polish Government’s funding coming to an end, these children still require staff to look after them in the camp. Lastly, we need urgent assistance for equipping the buildings ready for winter.
Together we have achieved great outcomes for these wonderful and resilient children, and that could not have been possible without our partners and donors. If you can support the children in Poland, we would love to hear from you.