Support for refugees from Ukraine who are staying in villages and small towns in Poland and for their integration with residents makes an important element of projects implemented by the “PAFF Local Partnerships” program. They were realized by coalitions consisting of representatives of various Foundation’s programs and other institutions such as schools and libraries as well as local businesses, local government and media.
From the beginning of military conflict in Ukraine the partners in ARTEWEDA Association of Creative Actions of Lądek-Zdrój municipality (Dolnośląskie province) coordinated collections of food and clothing as well as looked for accommodation for refugees. They also ran Polish classes where, among other things, they taught how to write cv in Polish and do well at a job interview. With the slogan What do we need? – We go on! the partnership invited residents, spa patients, tourists, and guests from Ukraine to the Victory Street Festival where they could meet Polish and Ukrainian regional culture – especially music and dances. The main point of What do we need… project was Street Art Festival Lądek-Zdrój, started with a week-long Ju-Jitsu workshops for Polish and Ukrainian children and young people, and ended with martial arts show in the Main Square in Lądek Zdrój.
Thanks to the Solidary in Partnership project whose leader was the Help for Children and Youth Association (Warmińsko-Mazurskie province) as many as 250 people got consulting and information support, attended Polish classes, participated in meetings and training sessions and integration classes for children and their mothers from Ukraine. In Ruciane-Nida, Pisz and Orzysz communes partners set up three Solidary in Partnership consulting and information outlets where volunteers helped the refugees to legalize their stay, find and rent flats, register and apply for family benefits, health insurance and find a job. Everybody could meet a legal advisor, a career counselor, a psychologist or an interpreter. Polish lessons in first weeks of stay in Poland were also offered by SMK Local Fund in Zaleszany Foundation (Podkarpackie province) under its The Young And Angry… Partnership Enhancing In Actions For Ukraine project. One of the main elements of the project were online Polish classes for adults. At the time when these classes were held, there were also organized activities for children to allow parents calm and efficient learning.
In turn the partnership set up by New Opportunities Competences Development Foundation of Wojkowice municipality (Śląskie province) runs Polish-Ukrainian Entrepreneurship Generator (Cauldron) which is focused on effective job searching through professional career counselling. It is also creating the website where one can find local services and products and find a job. A part of the project was setting up the Ukraine Depot where refugees from Ukraine can get necessities collected for them by the town residents. Also, under the project they organize Together At a Table integration meetings for Polish and Ukrainian families.
An important part of the partnership projects were also Polish-Ukrainian workshop meetings. Lady Sue Ryder Association of Niepołomice (Małopolskie province) held a series of meetings for Polish and Ukrainian students living in the municipality under the Settle Down III partnership. They comprised art and music workshops, walks and Creative Habitat summer workshops aimed at learning about Niepołomicka Forest and interesting facts about the nature of the region.
In turn in Nidzica (Warmińsko-Mazurskie province), there were meetings at the Potters Village where participants made pots, painted ceramics, cooked pierogi, planted flowers, discussed traditions and picked fruit and vegetable in the Garden of Eden. At the Small Child Academy the youngest children took part in nature, logic, crafts, philosophy and music workshops. The Safe Haven project was strongly supported by volunteers who organized collections and fundraising for refugees campaign.
In order to invite to the workshops as many participants as possible, the Warmia Nook Local Action Group set up the Mobile Center for Animation. In various community centers and schools in villages creative and animation classes were held, both for children and adults, attended by our guests from Ukraine. For children they have organized macrame, making scented candles, and quilling classes, and music workshops where they worked on songs presented later at the project closing ceremony held in Brąswałd. Adults took part in macrame and making decoupage Christmas balls classes; they also made friendship pendants and bracelets for a charity concert. Money earned on their sale was used to buy prosthetic legs for a Ukrainian soldier.
In Słubica and Cybinka the main focus in activities was on lavender. The Lavender – Integration project implemented by Foundation for Collegium Polonicum and its partners comprised of open workshops, lectures on properties of lavender, growing lavender and its applications. There was a Lavender Harvest in Cybinka where residents and people who came from Ukraine harvested lavender and next made new lavender fields.
Many interesting integration activities have been held at libraries and community centers. Under the Social BOOM project F. Chruściel Culture Center and Municipal Library in Orneta (Warmińsko-Mazurskie province) held theater workshops for residents and refugees that led to preparing by both groups of a happening and an integration picnic. In Lubiewo (Kujawsko-Pomorskie province) a partnership set up by the Library-Culture and Lubiewo Commune Popularization Center invited residents and guests from Ukraine to take part in the Creative Workshopping project. During the integration meetings the participants cooked pierogi, made decoupage decorations, and learned the art of glass painting. They made bottles decorated with winter patterns and landscapes. With the Together at the Library slogan a partnership of Chrzanów (Małopolskie province) encouraged the local community to spend time together on creating handicrafts and singing songs. For students from Ukraine the Polish classes were held. To help guests from Ukraine adapt in their new place, they organized walks in Chrzanów, meetings with a psychologist as well as classes for children and parents conducted by a volunteer. In Krotoszyn (Wielkopolskie province), education, culture and entertainment classes for Polish and Ukrainian residents were held at Arkady Fiedler Public Library under the Good Appetite! project. At one of such meetings, Herb Festival – Preserves, Herbs And Idyllic Life, for example, the participants learned about herbs available in Krotoszyn municipality and neighboring Barycza Valley. They also learned how to prepare herbal drinks, dry herbs to make herbal tea, ointments, and herbal salt. In September the cooking workshops participants made in teams the best known dishes of Wielkopolskie province, such as potato pancakes, pierogi, “pyry z gzikiem” (boiled potatoes with farmer’s cheese), various soups and the regional dessert (on the basis of egg white). They also prepared the best known Ukrainian dishes such as pierogi, Ukrainian borshch and cabbage soup, cheesecakes, “młynci” and “deruny”. All recipes were collected in a special publication prepared by the library and No. 3 Complex of High Schools in Krotoszyn. The crowning event of the project was the Friends in the Square integration festival.
“PAFF Local Partnerships” is a program of Polish-American Freedom Foundation , managed by the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland. The activities described above have been sponsored under the grant competition for partnership projects and the Common Good Lab’s Development Fund – an initiative for program Alumni.
Photo courtesy of Witold Cholewa