Latter-day Saints, Muslims and Catholics Support Ukrainian Refugees in Poland

Krakow, Poland — Irina Konovalova arrived in Poland on April 16 with a bear under her eyes.

Russian soldiers — “occupants” or “invaders”, she calls them — took her and her mother from their home in the smoldering city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine to a nearby village. .. They traveled from town to town for 19 days, stopping in Lviv and finally in a border village called Medica in Poland.

Besides the cat Slotki, the 23-year-old only had a winter hoodie and a pink hat with the words “Good day”.

“And her boots are really the only one she owns,” said Bob Maggie, a resident of American Folk, as he walked through a vast mall near downtown Krakow. “We are trying to change that.”

Maggie, a former chief financial officer of the bank, is one of the many late-day saints living in Krakow, working 15 hours and immersing himself in his personal bank account to help Ukrainian refugees live abroad. increase.

They are small slices of pagan pies that are now being burned into Poland after denominations from around the world flocked to Eastern Europe to help millions of refugees currently living in Poland.

It’s clear in Destroy the border village of MedicaAt some point helped the faith group to admit 11,000 refugees a day.. Or a historic Polish church transformed into a refugee center with the help of a small non-denominational church in England. Even the vast city of Krakow, which is now zero for independent Latter-day Saint volunteers.

No matter where you look, different beliefs set aside politics to help refugees.

“Putin has enough enemies,” said United Sikh Gansin. “No one wants him to win, so of course everyone is helping these people survive and prosper here.”

Ukrainian refugee Irina Konovalova from Mariupol went to buy clothes at Terra Nova in Krakow, Poland, on Friday, April 15, 2022. Volunteer Bob McGee paid for her new clothes and shoes.

Christine Murphy, Dezalet News

“One family at a time”

On a miserable Friday afternoon in downtown Krakow, Maggie put together a $ 200 invoice when he bought Mariupol’s Conovarowa, a new shirt, trousers, jacket and shoes.

Konovalova grinned and turned over the shelves of the Eastern European-based clothing store Terranova. “My favorite color is pink,” she said. When she spoke through her interpreter, her attention was taken away by the pink dazzling sweatshirt in front of her.

The next day she boarded a train to Vienna with her mother and cat Slotki. Maggie then returned to the Latter-day Saints’ meetinghouse in Krakow, looking for the next family to help her.

Konovarowa is one of the dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of refugees that Krakow’s independent Latter-day Saints have helped in recent months.

Using the Krakow meetinghouse as a home base, they drive a van to the border town and pick up Ukrainians who move across the checkpoint on foot.

They bought them food, found a place to sleep, and confirmed that during the last month, 6 to 10 rooms in a nearby hotel were always reserved for refugees.


American folk volunteer Bob Maggie will unbox his suitcase for distribution to refugees in Krakow, Poland, on Friday, April 15, 2022.

Christine Murphy, Dezalet News

They look for long-term housing in Poland or call to see if a nursing home is available. When the refugees are ready to leave, take them to the train station or airport, line up waiting for tickets and help carry their suitcases. If you don’t have a suitcase that’s convenient to carry around (often you put your belongings in a plastic grocery bag and arrive in Poland or carry it loosely), volunteers also cover it.

The easiest way to find Latter-day Saints. Each time the group arrives at Medica, an army jumps out with a suitcase and is distributed to refugees passing through border crossings. From time to time they bring their suitcases to train stations and refugee camps. Basically, volunteers bring their suitcases wherever they go.

“We can’t help everyone. It’s like a starfish story. We’re helping one family at a time,” says Lance Foster of Arizona. “But in a day or two with them, you feel like a lifelong friend.”

In early March, Foster was planning a spring vacation to Costa Rica with his family. However, relaxing on the beach did not seem right, as the increasingly violent image of the Russian aggression dominated the news cycle.

“I think I need to go to Poland,” he told his wife.

So Foster sent his family to Krakow. Message from President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsSo he called out to people all over the world, “to pray for those in need, to do what they can to help those in distress.”

In the weeks that followed, a community of like-minded Latter-day Saints landed in Poland, a country with a relatively small presence of faith.

They work 24 hours a day. Early in the morning, it’s common to find Foster and Maggie roaming the meetinghouse hall and nearby hotels. When the two men aren’t sticking to their phone, they drive across eastern Poland, guiding their families through train stations and shopping for help. “Just find a train, a plane, a car,” Foster describes his typical afternoon.

Foster has not yet booked a return flight to Arizona. He probably won’t do so until the end of the war, or at least until the humanitarian crisis has subsided. His wife and three of her five children recently ended their return trip to Krakow — they are planning another visit in the summer.

“I’ve been there for a long time,” he said on the phone at 11:45 pm. “It’s okay to stay all year long if needed.”


Ukrainian refugee Anastasia Rusik holds a chain of dogs Arica and Sonic at a school behind the Greek Catholic Cathedral of St. John in Baptist. Friday, April 22, 2022.

Christine Murphy, Dezalet News

A small church that can be

Only 16 km from the Polish-Ukraine border, the historic town of Przemysl is home to several towering beautiful churches. Like the Greek Catholic Cathedral of St. John in Baptist near the center of town, it is now home to about 20 refugees.

Called the “Three Bells Church” by volunteers, this cathedral is one of many near the border that helps to accommodate refugees thanks to members of the UK-based church Love Bristol.

Following the invasion of Russia, the European Union Revived the Temporary Protection Directive This gives refugees access to the labor market, social welfare and freedom to move within the blocks of 27 countries. However, refugees considering immigration to the UK are facing a more complex visa process after the UK left the EU in 2021.


Volunteer Rachel Morano on the left speaks with Ukrainian refugee Valentinalsik on Thursday, April 21, 2022 at a school behind the Greek Catholic Cathedral of Baptist St. John in Przemysl, Poland. ..

Christine Murphy, Dezalet News

This process can take several weeks and requires a sponsor. It confuses refugees during the review of their application. And with a few exceptions, most large camps, like the refurbished Tesco grocery store in Przemysl, where refugees can only stay for 48 hours, generally do not support Limbo.

Join Love Bristol, a small non-denominational congregation of less than 40 people. Church volunteers currently living on unfinished construction sites have established a faith-based network that includes the Greek Orthodox Church and the Pentecostal Church around Przemysl, which functions as temporary housing while refugees await their visas.

Przemysl typically has 5-10 volunteers from Love Bristol, helping about 250 refugees considering immigration to the United Kingdom.

“It’s hard to care for many people at once,” says Love Bristol volunteer Rachel Morano, who told Dezalet News that she works 12 to 14 hours a day. “We do it with absolute shoelaces. We are a small little charity church …. We interview refugees, what their tastes are, where they want to be, You have to find out who they want to be with and match them with their home host. ”

However, despite the long days, Morano and other volunteers do not seem to be able to escape. When they do so, they are suffering from a “withdrawal”.

“We are constantly being criticized, but we want to go home and come back. I love it. We are very attached to Ukrainians.”

Colorful coalition at the border

Thubten Wangchen stands near the gate to the entrance to Poland and wears a flowing red robe and a contagious smile as he greets the slow stream of refugees passing through the Medica border crossing. increase.

It’s chilly on Friday afternoon and the temperature is around 40 degrees Celsius. And Wanchen’s arm full of goose bumps is exposed. However, it does not offend Buddhist monks and exiled Tibetan parliamentarians, as volunteers and refugees also attacked him at the request of photographs.

“No, no, of course not,” Wanchen replied cheerfully when asked if it was cold. “We strive to be in solidarity with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters (here) because we Tibetans are suffering as well.”

The visit to the Wanchen border was short — he spent two days distributing donations to women and children entering Poland. “I know the situation and I’ll be back,” he said.

However, his presence symbolized a powerful pagan coalition that settled in Medica. What Wanchen says sends an important message.

“Unity is (how) we can achieve something, otherwise there is a division in the nations, and (and) the fanatics win,” he said.

Unity is power, “enough to stop war and world problems,” he said.


Adrii Pasievkin and Ana Sazonov, volunteers of the Jewish Agency for Israel, are hoisting the Israeli flag outside the tent on the Polish-Ukrainian border in Medica, Poland, on Monday, April 18, 2022.

Christine Murphy, Dezalet News

One day, Medica shows a handful of faith. You can find Jewish Agency volunteers for Israel. Helping refugees navigate public transport after carrying luggage to the pedestrian walkway. Near the checkpoint are Jehovah’s Witnesses welcoming refugees, or members of the Egyptian Red Crescent Society, a secular branch of the Red Cross based in Cairo. Their volunteers are mainly Muslims.

There is no doubt that those waiting in the long line on the Polish side or the long line on the Ukrainian side will smell the United Sikh food they bring.

“Food is a symbol of equality, brotherhood and fellowship,” Shin said with the United Sikhs. “It doesn’t matter what you believe in, where you come from, and what your prejudices are. If you’re hungry, you can eat our food.”

Occasionally there is Vickers between them. However, it is minimal and there are few divisions in Medica that can prevent diverse groups of faith from working together in other parts of the world.

“When you step in here, you can feel where you are from, whatever your mission is, everyone wants to help each other,” said Igor Yeye, a Jewish Agency for Israel. Told. “There is no politics here.”

https://www./faith/2022/5/9/23034309/latter-day-saints-mormon-lds-muslims-catholics-faith-help-ukraine-refugees-in-poland-medyka Latter-day Saints, Muslims and Catholics Support Ukrainian Refugees in Poland

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