My name is Yuliia Pugolovko and I’ve been a volunteer in Poland since the first days of the war, specifically: In the organization ‘New Hope’ in Krakow, we have undertaken the significant task of resettling over 1,000 refugees across Poland and Europe.
This involved finding suitable accommodations such as apartments, guesthouses, holiday homes, and more, to ensure their safety and comfort in their new surroundings.
Moreover, our collaboration extended to working closely with the Krakow city hall, forging partnerships that enabled us to provide essential resources for the refugees. In addition to the resettlement efforts, I took on the responsibility of organizing workshops designed for children affected by the crisis. These workshops aimed to provide a sense of normalcy and creativity amidst challenging circumstances, fostering a supportive environment for their emotional well-being.
For adults, our endeavours included creative projects like designing and painting shopper bags, which not only served as artistic outlets but also contributed to our charity fairs. These fairs not only raised awareness, but also funds, which were channelled towards alleviating the immediate needs of the refugees.
The pervasive issue of exhaustion among the refugees was a challenge that resonated deeply with me.
To help the refugees better connect with their new home, I took on the role of conducting guided tours of Kazimierz. This historic district held the potential to offer them a deeper understanding of Polish culture, helping them integrate and adapt to their new environment.
The pervasive issue of exhaustion among the refugees was a challenge that resonated deeply with me. Witnessing their resilience while grappling with physical and emotional fatigue was a testament to their strength. Navigating bureaucracy in the midst of a crisis proved to be an additional hurdle. The unpreparedness of countries for events like the war in Ukraine led to a lack of regulatory frameworks, leaving us to operate without clear guidelines. This compounded the challenges we faced in providing timely assistance.
To address this, we found ourselves juggling a plethora of tasks: making countless phone calls, seeking expert consultations, and patiently assisting individuals in the intricate process of obtaining necessary documentation. Ensuring that each person’s paperwork was in order became an integral part of our work, given its potential significance for future plans in similar circumstances.
Confronted by these obstacles, I realized that fatigue is not easily conquered. Through experience, I acquired a profound understanding of the importance of empathy and self-care. Seeking new volunteers and fostering a supportive community allowed me to share the responsibilities while ensuring our efforts remained sustainable.
Recognizing the significance of taking breaks, I learned that moments of inactivity are not merely periods of rest but opportunities for rejuvenation. These respites are crucial for maintaining the quality of assistance we offer to fellow countrymen and those in need, allowing us to give our best to the causes we hold dear. In light of these experiences, I find myself immensely grateful for the chance to make a positive impact. Every step, no matter how challenging, has reinforced my belief in the power of collective action and the resilience of the human spirit.”