Three months have passed since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. During this period, thanks to the commitment of parishes and other Jesuit works, many people affected by the war have been helped.
Aid in Ukraine
Until the Easter holidays, the Jesuit retreat house in Khmelnitsky functioned as a stopover point where people on the move could spend one or two nights. Up to 70 people a day were received. In total, more than 1,000 people took advantage of this opportunity. At the same time, the refugee house in Lviv also regularly welcomed families, and they could stay as long as they needed. In this way, around 150 people were helped in the run-up to Easter. At present, both the Lviv and Khmelnitsky Houses are accepting refugees for longer periods. As of today there are 18 people in Lviv, although two more families are expected to join soon, while 58 people are staying in Khmelnitskyi. At the same time, the management of the Lviv house has rented a house in Briukhovychi near Lviv, where more people will soon be admitted. This will be the third Jesuit place for refugees in Ukraine.
Aid in Poland
In Poland, during the first month of the war, 118 people were received in Jesuit houses and parish rooms, which had been adapted to this aim. In April, a further 51 people were taken in, while at the same time 20 people left our houses for Ukraine or western countries. At the beginning of May, 149 refugees were staying in our premises.
Our works also undertook various other activities to assist the refugees. Until the beginning of April, our „Jesuits for Ukraine” team cooperated with various organizations that were then organizing the process of accepting refugees in Western countries. In this way we managed to find accommodation for 478 people. At the beginning of May another transport, now organised by Rotary International, left Poland. Another 22 people then took advantage of the opportunity to live in the West. A group of 50 people from Warsaw to Marseille is also due to leave soon.
At present, a major undertaking in Poland is the organisation of language courses. This activity involves the Jesuit Centre of Education in Nowy Sącz and the Holy Spirit Parish, the Jesuit University in Kraków, the Jesuit Social Centre „In Action”, as well as St. Ignatius Loyola and St. Andrew Parish in Jastrzębia Góra, and the parish of St. Klemens Dworzak in Wrocław. In total, about 268 people are currently taking advantage of the opportunity to learn Polish offered by these works. It is worth noting that in this group are also children, for whom special groups have been prepared, where they learn through play. Apart from these undertakings, the Jesuit works also undertake other initiatives. In Nowy Sącz, the „Czerwona Kalina” centre was opened, where, apart from language classes, integration activities for Ukrainian children are regularly held. At the Ignatianum Academy, there is a psychological help point for refugees. Similarly, psychological assistance is offered by the Vinea Foundation in Poznań. In Gdynia, five Ukrainian pupils were admitted to the Jesuit School Complex and six children were admitted to the nearby 'Drużyna Kostki’ nursery school. Two children from Ukraine were also admitted in a kindergarden in Myslowice.
We did not expect three months ago that the war would broke out. In such situation thanks to the spontaneous and energetic activities of various groups and individuals, it was possible to support the refugees. It was an extremely intense period, and the above-mentioned figures on the assistance provided by Jesuit works cannot show the many human stories, struggles and encounters that lie behind these statistics. At the same time, we are faced with the need to organise long-term assistance for refugees in Poland. With this goal in mind, our „Jesuits for Ukraine” team has begun working with two international organizations: Jesuit Refugee Service and Xavier Network.