Editor’s note: The following are reflections from Federation President Ellen Renee Adams who traveled to Poland on April 5-7 to see firsthand how the various Jewish agencies are helping the Ukraine people. She was part of a special Jewish Federations of North America Mission that included Board member Brian Greene and Federation Chief Impact Officer Sara Rosenbaum as well as a Federation group from Utah. The group was in Poland for about 36 hours.
By Ellen Renee Adams
“The people of Ukraine were living a good life. They were happy. Now they are all traumatised, ripped apart. This is so heart breaking. Now they have nothing!
“We have an alphabet of Jewish Agencies – JDC, JAFI, JFNA – and they are all operating together as one. All is being coordinated. We are one team!
“Our Jewish Agencies were ready and were able to pivot and respond immediately. The minute when people cross the border from Ukraine, everyone is being treated with dignity and respect. Each person matters. We are there helping everybody because this is what we do, and have done for decades.
“There are “shopping” rooms in the humanitarian aid center where everything is new. The clothes and shoes have tags on them. People are being provided most of the supplies and items they need immediately from diapers to medicines and much more. They also are being assisted to try to get the many necessary important papers they need to travel elsewhere and arrangements are being made to get them where they need to go for a shortime or even longer.
“What breaks my heart is that we need to be doing this now. It’s so surreal that on this day and time that this is happening. The whole world is watching in disbelief. Nothing is being hidden. We can all see it is happening. In the Holocaust, most was hidden.
“There are Jews everyone helping; doctors and nurses from Hadassah Hospital. The first field hospital is an Israeli hospital. We are stepping up to help. And there are people from all over the world helping. Individuals are there to help and stepping up in a big way. Many volunteers are leaving their families temporarily to help and be there. The refugees are being helped in so many ways.
“When the refugees cross the border into Poland from Ukraine (in the area where we were) the first thing you see is an Israeli flag next to a tent. Everyone is being greeted with the first questions: ‘How can we help? What do you need?’
“They need more volunteers to help, especially anyone who can speak Russian. The refugees just need someone to talk to after what they have gone through and what may be ahead of them. How can they start their lives over when they have nothing? This is reality for these people.
“Much more money is needed to help and support the Jewish Agencies.
“We – all of us – Sara, Brian and I – could not sleep during our stay, just re-living and thinking about what we had seen and heard from the refugees. Their stories of the horror they were living every day.
“I am grateful and proud as a people that we are doing this and helping in so many ways. It is inspiring and horrific at the same time. It was a privilege to be there. We wished we could have stayed. Thank God there is Israel that is helping so many people and offering a new home.
Editor’s note: To read Brian Greene’s blog posts from the group’s special mission visit to Poland, visit www.reflectornews.org.