War Diaries, June 17, 2023

June 17, 2023

Day 478


An Open Letter to:


Our generous donors from around the world

The Mima and John Fund at Greater Horizons

Marla and Dan Hughes in California

The Jung Center/Sean Fitzpatrick/Houston, Texas

Gabriella Nissen and Quinn Harris

David Lorimer

Melanie Robbins and Betsy Michau

The Poole Family

Denys and Sheelagh Reades

Karen Colenbrander

Basia Rostworowska



Dear All,


As we bring to a close our activities here in Sichów Duży, we want to thank everyone for their prayers, donations, kind thoughts, unwavering interest, and their willingness to share our story with others.  We want to thank Stefan Dunin-Wąsowicz for sharing his property with us since the start of the war.  It would have been impossible to have hosted so many without the space we were granted.


Our activities will begin anew, north of here about an hour from the German border.  While we will not be hosting Ukrainians at Sichów, we will continue to apportion the monies we have to resettle the residents in independent housing.  Our heartfelt thanks go to John Kulle for financing the Greater Horizons Grant that will help resettle families.  We will provide periodic updates on The Cross Border House website.


Marina and her two boys left yesterday, bound for their new “now home” in the neighbouring town of Połaniec.  (Her sister, Oksana, who is also a resident here, will join her soon.). They have a spacious, two-bedroom ground floor apartment with a small terrace and a community garden at the back.  What makes it even more comfortable for them is knowing that the landlord has kindly welcomed them.  There is a great peace when one feels safe in a new “now home”.  Most landlords across Poland do not rent to Ukrainians and I suppose one could argue endlessly over why, but I’m too tired to engage in such debates.  That remains that not all are welcome.  Such is the fallout from war and the unconscionable displacement of the vulnerable.


Nadia and her two children are moving tomorrow to another family property: Kurozweki Palace.  The apartment made available to her is directly across the street from the school for children with special needs where her son is a student.


The Pechenizki’s are moving to Krakow on June 21st.  Masha has been accepted to the Jagiellonian University.  She is a bright and disciplined girl who, at the age of 16, worked every day, studying into the night, tirelessly completing applications and documents until finally the day came when someone said, “Yes, we will take you.”  I’m sure there were times when she felt defeated, but I never saw it.  A positive, can-do, try-harder attitude has visibly manifested in her.


The younger sister, Olesia, will take the entrance exam at the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Music School on Tuesday.  This public school has a well-regarded music programme and is just around the corner from the family apartment.


Olesia was recently awarded 2nd place in all of Ukraine in the junior division of chess – ages up to 16.  This eight-year-old will have the chance to continue developing her skills in Krakow.


Our nephew, Jordan Poole, who volunteered his time, his love and his skill as a first responder at The Cross Border House, has gone back to Texas.  He came to us in March 2022, at the beginning of the war.  There wasn’t anything he couldn’t repair, from bicycles to washing machines.  He was our Friday night cook.  He was our taxi driver and the one who kept his wits about him when Paul and I were in a state of falling apart.  He worked with Gala on art activities with the children and could wrap a present like a pro.  Thank you, Jordan.  We miss you!


Katya and her family are now working in Staszow, and as soon as her son, Bogdan, is finished with school, they will move into their apartment in town.


We are still looking for a place for Yuliia Cheban and her three but are confident we will find something soon.


Luba and Stepan are going back to Ukraine, as are Oksana and her mother, Iryna.  Oksana said that in Kharkiv it’s not so dangerous at the moment, though there are definite food shortages, and if it gets too bad, they will go to the shelters in Kyiv.


Xenia and Yuliia and their two little ones, Yana and Svetik, are coming with us to Poznan.  They simply have no one except some family in Zaporizhzhia, and Xenia’s husband is in the war so his whereabouts are unpredictable and always changing.  We have a short-term lease for them in an apartment in Poznan while we look for a permanent solution.


The Litoshko family will move to Kielce.  Our cousin Stefan is working on temporary housing for them there.


Oksana and her children will also relocate in Kielce, close to the hospital.


This will be my last war diary from Sichów.  I wanted to write something profound, something of philosophic interest, but honestly, I’m exhausted.  What I can say with undisputed clarity, exhaustion aside, is how grateful I am to everyone who stood by us every step of the way: Our Donors, each and every one.




To John Kulle and Greater Horizons for a generous grant.  This grant is the reason we are able to resettle every resident in the house, helping them launch an autonomous, independent life in their own apartments near to their workplace and near to schools. 


Thank you to MARLA and DAN HUGHES who offered to host a benefit in California and to their friends who came through with $10,000 which has served to support us up to July 1st. 


Great thanks to Melanie and Betsy for coming all the way from America with suitcases full of donations and making pizzas for the children.  We will never forget you.


Thank you to HOUSTON, my hometown where FAMILY and friends and volunteers gathered together at THE JUNG CENTER which so graciously opened their doors to host our event.  A special thanks to Sean Fitzpatrick, Director, for making that happen and to Gabriella Nissen and Quinn Harris who said, ‘Yes, we will help.’


A special recognition to the actors:  Sheryl Croix, Michelle Britton, Fritz Dickmann, Susan Blair, Magdalen Vaughn, Pamela Vogel, Jim Lawrence, Roxanne Claire, and Paige Moore who gave generously their time and professionalism. 


Josh Poole and Xachary Blunt for supervising the audio visual and tech set up.  Thanks to photographer Jeff McMorrough for donating his time and talent, gifting TCBH with great pictures of the event.


Heartfelt thanks to Andrea Sinclair, who joined us from London last year to play with the children inside and out, creating art from nature and story.


Thank you to Alan Schnitger and Ben Tuma of Iron Archelon for all of their support in the design and management of the beautiful Cross Border House website.

Volunteers in Poland: Jordan Poole, Andrii Pechenizkyi, Yuliia Pechenizka, Maria Pechenizka-Tkachova, Olesia Pechenizka-Tkachova, Halyna Pechenizka.


All the Ukrainian Residents at The Cross Border House.


Thank you to my dear cousin Basia Rostworoska for calling every week, for visiting several times, for reading and recording every single war diary on Morley College Radio and in her way, assuring that no one she knew would forget about us.  


Thank you, David Lorimer, for donating the proceeds to your inspiring book of poetry:  Better Light A Candle


Thank you to our daughter’s family, Denys and Sheelagh Reades, along with their Canadian prayer groups who have been consistently remembering us in prayer since February 2022.  The power of this goodwill is tangible.  We are grateful.  Thanks especially to Karen Colenbrander. 


Unfortunately, I was never able to realise my dream of creating a permanent place, a permanent centre for those fleeing from war, a dream which is still wholly misunderstood by most, so allow me to set the record straight here from a letter printed in the Guardian on May 23, 2023.  What the Georgian government has done to aid its refugee population is exactly the solution I had hoped for here.


Regarding the letter on how the government’s housing plan will put refugees’ lives at risk: I am the chair of trustees of the charity Refugees Welcome, Cheshire East.  Earlier this month, I visited the Tserovani refugee settlement in Georgia.  The settlement of about 2,000 homes was built in 2008 to house refugees from South Ossetia made homeless by the conflict between the Russian Federation and Georgia.  It took around three months to build the small but sound houses for the victims.


People have extended the homes and created gardens around them.  Transport infrastructure is part of the plan so that people can go to work in nearby towns.What’s important is that they feel safe.


Jobs have been created in the settlement, such as a social enterprise jewellery workshop, which we were fortunate enough to attend.  Desperate people have dignity and are able to contribute to the economy of their new arena.


What a shame it is that our government is unable to understand and embrace the needs of refugees who come to the UK.  How wonderful it would be if suitable homes for refugees and other displaced people could be built, rather than endless estates of four-bedroom houses.


Nicky Campbell

Macclesfield, Cheshire


I might add, Nicky Campbell, that the U.K. is not the only country who does not understand, nor does its citizens.  Not in the least.


In another article from the Guardian printed on June 6, 2023, titled: How We Survive.  At 12, I was in Auschwitz.  My parents and seven siblings were murdered.  Here is how I built a life.


Ivor Perl is the survivor, and the article begins with a question; a question he asks the journalist.


“How much has it helped in the 80 years, us talking?”


By “us”, he means fellow survivors of the Holocaust who have testified to the horrors they witnessed.  He wants to know if all the talks at schools, all the media interviews, have achieved anything.  “Can you tell me?”  I ask him to answer his own question.


“I think: nothing.”  He urges me to “look around the world” – at Ukraine, at Sudan, at China’s treatment of the Uyghur Muslims.  “So I would like to know, is there anything the world has learned from us?”


Absolutely nothing.



Amber Poole Kieniewicz

June 8, 2023

Sichów Duży, Poland


Posted with this entry is the talk I gave at the Jung Center Houston for those interested.  
Please click here for the transcript of the talk at the Jung Center Houston.



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