As of this week, more than 60 per cent of the people fleeing Ukraine have come to Poland — more than all other European countries combined. That is 1.7 million refugees and counting, coming to a neighbouring country of 38 million.
Across Poland, this means a constant flow of people into every city or town, with every church and NGO part of the effort.
“Any church, any organization that has any capacity to host refugees, they do it,” said Agnieszka Domagala, director of Biblijne Stowarzyszenie Misyjne (BSM), also known as Wycliffe Poland. “It’s everyone. Every town is co-ordinating and trying to co-ordinate help. But there are also a lot of bottom-up initiatives. People are just volunteering. Giving clothing, shelter. Warm meals. Picking up people from railway stations. So it is an amazing, amazing volunteer movement.”
Speaking via Zoom from her church in Wroclaw, Agnieszka’s Internet connection was unstable because it is being used by so many people staying there. Her attention is necessarily split right now between her part-time role as Wycliffe Poland’s director and serving at the church where her husband is a pastor. The church initially thought it could offer 20 beds. That quickly grew to 60 families or singles now under their care at the church, plus about the same number who have stayed there temporarily and then settled around town or in nearby villages.
“We have a crisis center, so people can stay in the church and live here and we co-ordinate everything — food, clothing, schooling, medical help,” she said. “Everything you can think of. The church is used as a place to stay, and also as a transit place because there is a constant stream of refugees. They stay for one or two days, or even for a few hours to have a warm meal, and then they go further, like to Germany or to other places in Poland. Or some stay longer.
“It’s not only us, but other churches we know in Poland are doing the same,” she said. “And different organizations are doing the same. So it is a united movement. People think, Where can I give my hand? And then we just do it.
“This is how the situation more or less looks everywhere in Poland. We are trying to find accommodations for people and then connect them with their food supplies, medical supplies, doctors and any help they need. We are very busy. Our days are long.”
From an article by Jim Killam, Wycliffe Global Alliance. To learn more about the responses of Wycliffe Poland and other Wycliffe organizations to the crisis in Ukraine, visit wycliffe.net.