110,000 zloty is the balance of the 2nd edition of the “A Package for a Countryman and Hero in Kresy” campaign. 900 packages got to Poles living in the Vilnius region just before Christmas. The offerings were brought to Turgeliai, Šalčininkai, Rūkonių, Eišiškės, Butrimonys, Kalesninkai, and Nemenčinė.
“Such a nice surprise strengthens national identity of Poles living in the Vilnius region,” people from Turgeliai, Lithuania, said. “They were here last year, and they are again this Christmas. We are very grateful for this nice gesture and unity with us. Our homes are always open to you.”
This year we managed to raise 63,000 złoty in the Caritas bank account of the Archdiocese of Szczecin-Kamień. From Wrocław a package containing brand-name clothing worth 20,000 złoty departured, and from more than 25 collection points in Poland and abroad volunteers gathered approximately 3 tonnes of products worth almost 20,000 złoty. Additionally, Polish children from Lithuania were invited to Poland for a school break for a sum of 10,000 złoty.
“We are very glad that we can make a nice surprise for our countrymen, at least for Christmas,” Wojciech Woźniak, an initiator of the campaign, said. “We won’t save the world, but the joy we gave remains in the hearts of those who were given packages and ours.”
Great gift packaging in Szkoła Podstawowa w Przecławiu [trans. Primary School in Przecław] was inaugurated by the Presidential Couple. President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda with his spouse Agata Kornhauser-Duda made the first packages which went to Lithuania. The Couple prepared also their own packages for Polish children from Szkoła Specjalna w Solecznikach [trans. Special School in Šalčininkai], Lithuania, and for Aleksandra from whom everything had started.
“Two cars with some help travelled almost 3,000 kilometres in all,” Łukasz Szełemej, a co-organiser of the event, said. “It was a long and exhausting journey, but we did it gladly. We remember our Countrymen in the Vilnius region; we give them strength and joy. We are one big Polish family.”
The second edition of the “A Package for a Countryman and Hero in Kresy” campaign began as early as June. The first stage of the charitable collection was the organising of the summer holidays for children from Kresy. Along with the Caritas of Archdiocese of Szczecin-Kamień the campaign organisers invited them to a camp with language activities that took place in July. Forty children from Polish families living in the Grodno region, Belarus, and 10 children from Polish families from the Vilnius region participated in it.
During the stay the children took part in Polish-language lessons and team-building activities with their Polish peers from the West Pomeranian Voivodeship. For twelve days the children had a rest in Ośrodek Szkoleniowo-Wypoczynkowy “Brzózki” [trans. Training and Resort Centre “Birches”] in Popielewo by Nowe Warpno.
Their stay in Poland was supposed to improve their Polish-language skills; take them through Polish traditions and customs; stimulate their intellectual, emotional, and physical development; develop the children’s psychophysical predispositions through games, competitions, meetings with interesting guests; and enable them to have contact with their peers coming from their ancestors’ country.
“A Package for a Countryman and Hero in Kresy” is an event of Szczecin inhabitants. The idea emerged during the 24th International Marian Pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mercy at Vilnius in June 2014. While marching to Vilnius pilgrims met a lot of countrymen living in Lithuania, who offered all of them whatever refreshments they could.
At that time Wojciech Woźniak, the initiator of the campaign, met Aleksandra, who welcomed the pilgrims with a few sandwiches and carrots from her garden. A stirring photo which he took at that moment initiated the plan of assistance for Countrymen living in Kresy. Łukasz Szełemej, Rev. Maciej Szmuc from the Caritas of the Archdiocese of Szczecin-Kamień, who has made a special bank account for the collection available, as well as Bartłomiej Ilcewicz from the “Civitas Christiana” Catholic Association got involved in the organisation of the campaign. The name, “A Package for a Countryman and Hero in Kresy”, refers to dedication to Poland, memory of Polish roots, and cultivation of tradition and national heritage.
“We are grateful to our Countrymen in Kresy for the spreading of Polish speech, for preservation of history, for hardship. Through this event we pay homage to the Countrymen, to those who have followed the “God, Honour, Motherland” maxim for generations. It is a homage to our contemporary Heroes preserving Polishness in its purest form,” Wojciech Woźniak said.
From 20th November to 17th December 2014 inhabitants of Szczecin and its region brought offerings for the packages to the seats of the Archdiocese of Szczecin-Kamień Caritas and “Civitas Christiana” Catholic Association. A special bank account was also activated and credited with the amount of more than 34,000 złoty from Polish and overseas donors. The campaign was supported financially by over 360 people from 200 localities.
On 20th December 2014 400 packages with food, household chemicals, clothing, and books in total was given to Poles living in the Vilnius region. Thanks to the Christmas collection we managed to gather more than six tonnes of offerings. The packages were brought from Szczecin with two cars and got to Turgeliai, Jašiūnai, Šalčininkai, Rūkonių, and Eišiškės. A cordial meeting with Aleksandra, from whom the whole adventure had started, was the final point of the event.
“After many days of hard work, a thousand of conversations, and driving 2,500 kilometres we are proud that Poles remember our Countrymen in Kresy. It was a stirring journey for us, which was accompanied by God’s care. It was a gift from West Kresy to the Vilnius region – East Kresy that are very dear to us,” Łukasz Szełemej said.
Wojciech Woźniak is the originator of the campaign; Łukasz Szełemej, Rev. Maciej Szmuc from the Caritas of the Archdiocese of Szczecin-Kamień, and Bartłomiej Ilcewicz from the “Civitas Christiana” Catholic Association are the co-organisers.
The whole enterprise is dedicated to the Home Army Soldiers from Szczecin who come from Kresy – Major Danuta Szyksznian-Ossowska, (nickname “Sarenka” [trans. Roe Deer]; a Vilnius insurgent), and Captain Zbigniew Piasecki, (nickname “Czekolada” [trans. Chocolate]; a Warsaw insurgent).
Agata Kornhauser-Duda, the First Lady, supported the campaign from the beginning of its second edition.
The photo gallery from the final of the event is available here.
Tłumaczenie by Karolina Katarzyńska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Karolina Katarzyńska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.