Przemyśl is the first city after the Ukrainian-Polish border. The Polish Red Cross has a humanitarian center there, to help the people victims of the war in Ukraine. TSF displays essential information in this center, and we met the head coordinator of the place, Hanna.
The center focuses on first aid, the most basic needs: food, shelter, access to hygiene. Sometimes they need something even simpler:
“The first basic need, sometimes they just need to hear ‘You’re safe here’.”
People can stay for 48 hours in the center. For the humanitarian workers who work there, this means something different every day, “completely unpredictable. So you come to work and you never know what’s going to happen.”.
For Ukrainian refugees, it's a chance to stop, rest, decide on the next steps of the journey and gather what they need. Some are looking for a safe place where they can stay longer, “some people already have family in Poland or in other countries so the center is a stop for them before they go further, some of them want to work in another country”, Hanna told us. According to her, many Ukrainian refugees in the center want to go to Germany.
Whatever decision people make, wherever they go after this stage, they need information. Hanna can't know everything, from vaccination schedules to school registration procedures. That's one reason she appreciates the information displayed:
“I think the screens are very helpful because they give information that we personally don’t have.
An hour from Przemyśl, the Heart to Heart World Foundation runs a collection and assistance point for Ukrainian refugees in Poland. On a wall inside the building, next to children's drawings, the foundation's logo represents two hearts in the colors of the Ukrainian and Polish flags.
It was there that Jana spoke with the TSF team to explain why she created the foundation that TSF supports today, displaying essential information. Originally, she created an organization to send aid to Ukraine from Poland: "I went to Kharkiv [in Ukraine] to distribute food and aid. We also evacuated 59 people," she says. But she realized that Ukrainian refugees in Poland also needed help.
Jana founded the Heart to Heart World Foundation which runs the Free Shop. The Free Shop provides goods to Ukrainian refugees in need. How does it work? In short, donors distribute hygiene kits, food packages, furniture, children's items such as strollers, and so on. Ukrainian refugees fill out forms about their needs and are contacted to pick up the packages when the items are available.
The Free Shop also organizes legal counseling sessions with a lawyer and art activities for Ukrainian refugee children. Jana hears stories every day - from those, mostly women with their children, who have been forced to flee the war in Ukraine.
“The most challenging thing is talking to people, hearing their stories. But it’s also the nice part.”
Although she loves talking to people, many of them ask her the same questions over and over again: what are their rights in the country, who can they ask for help, where can they go next? That's where TSF steps in to support this local initiative, displaying essential information on informative screens in the Free Shop.
“With [TSF’s] TV, people are not spending that much time talking to us getting this information because they can read it. So it eases our burden a lot, we don’t have to repeat the same information over and over again. People can read it themselves and then come to us with specific questions and we can give them more details.”
This gives Jana more time to run the Free Shop, help as many people as possible, and help them better, with information specific to their situation.
“Being here, growing this, being a part of this, talking to people, hearing their stories, was the best thing I’d ever imagined doing.”