An Update on Ukrainian Refugees in Poland

An Update on Ukrainian Refugees in Poland

Shelter for Ukrainian refugees at the Lutheran & Reformed congregation in Kracow. 
The following is a letter from the Rev. Kazimierz Bem, pastor of the First Church in Marlborough, MA, and a native of Poland.  A dozen churches sent contributions through First Church to help refugees from the war in the Ukraine. (More here.)

Thank you for all your help, prayers and very generous donations. I just want to give you an update on your donations and the work you and your selfless love (charity) have enabled. Your generosity and compassion have been overwhelming! By the grace of God so far over 12 UCC congregations have contributed to our fundraising efforts from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Maine. 
Since the war in Ukraine began 20 days ago over 3 million refugees have fled the country, the overwhelming majority (1,8 million) to Poland. To put this in perspective: that is the size of the Polish capital, Warsaw. Smaller numbers of refugees have made their way to Romania (463k), Moldova (344k), Hungary (273k) and Slovakia (222k). (The United Church of Christ is working with the ACT Alliance and the Hungarian Reformed Church - that appeal is here.) 
Your help is so much appreciated & so very much necessary. In the past 20 days we have wired $9000 to the Lutheran Diakonia in Poland, which works through the Lutheran and Reformed Churches in the country providing aid to Ukraine (where access is still safe and possible) and to the 1.8 million refugees in Poland, mainly women and children. Aid is given to people regardless of their denominational allegiance (or lack thereof). Over half of the Reformed and Lutheran congregations in Poland (140) have taken in refugees and housed them. Most of the others have organized relief and collected goods.
So far, via Diakonia, your money has supported (amongst other things):
  • Convoys of humanitarian aid to Lutsk and Javorów (the last where the Russians bombed and killed a number of soldiers and US military personnel last week)
  • The Lutheran & Reformed congregation in Kracow, which has created a shelter for 36-40 people, with another in the works. Refugees are given clean clothes and warm meals as well as basic legal aid.
  • St. Mathew's Lutheran congregation in Łódź, which has taken in 18 people (3 families) and is providing them with necessary legal and psychological aid.
  • The Reformed congregation in Łódź has taken in 6 refugees and more are on the way. One woman learned after the first night of being taken in that her 20-year-old son was killed by the Russian army during the fighting.
  • Diakonia is passing humanitarian aid to Ukriane - Kiev and Kharkiv (both cities are being bombed as we speak).
Even though Polish and Ukrainian are Slavic languages, they are using different dialects and are quite distinct, so translators are needed. School books and supplies are also needed for children who are now being enrolled in Polish schools - remember: over 50% of the refugees are children under 15!  Next week the Luthern and Reformed congregations in Lodz will organize free legal aid to all refugees in Poland's second largest city.
What is in the future? Shelters (like the ones in Krakow and Łódź) will continue to operate as the war shows no signs of deescalating; both congregations in Łódź are planning language workshops for women and day-care and kindergarten solutions so that they can find employment and become independent. People who took in refugees for a week or two will tire - and so there is a pressing need to find them affordable, safe and dignified accommodation for the long run. Plans are being made for summer retreats for refugee children with language and psychological support, as well as how to prepare them for the next school year if need be.
Thank you for all your past - and continued support. If you can - please consider making a donation via the link below - Faithstreet has agreed to reimburse us $300 in Credit Card fees marked "Ukraine Relief."  Please consider making an appeal to your congregations. God bless you for all your support so far.
Please don't forget to pray for peace tonight and tomorrow.



Kaz J. Bem

The Rev. Kazimierz Bem is the Pastor of the First Church in Marlborough (Congregational). 

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