Thanks to our cousin Stefan Dunin-Wąsowicz, four of our residents are now working at the sewing factory in Staszów. Another two are working for a firm that produces hand-painted Christmas tree ornaments. Stefan also found jobs for two of the young men who have desperate to work since they arrived. Both boys are here in the capacity of helping their mothers and their families but do have the desire to do more, so gainful employment has been a welcomed relief.
Meanwhile, every morning we get a delivery of protective pads for Polish soldiers delivered to us. The women who are not working outside the house have a job inside packaging the pads so they can be sent out. Not only is this an opportunity to support the military, who defends our borders against Russian aggression, but it is the perfect solution for those who are unable to find immediate employment who want a chance to earn some money while they wait. We hope more such opportunities show up.
None of our residents want to be in a situation of perpetual charity. But in order for these young mothers to save their earnings and create a capital base for rebuilding their lives elsewhere, they need shelter, food and schooling for their children.
Where will that new life be? Ukrainians have strong cultural and family ties. Though Canada has opened its borders to Ukrainian refugees, Canada is half a world away. Its language and culture are foreign. It is a momentous decision to move that far away from one’s cultural roots, not a decision that our residents are inclined to do. Staying in Poland and developing a life here is certainly an option, however rents in the cities are high and not many landowners want to rent to Ukrainians. Landowners worry that the tenants may up and leave for Ukraine after a couple of months or end up unable to afford the rent. Until a family has some savings, a move to the city, where admittedly jobs are more plentiful, is risky.
A return to Ukraine is something seldom discussed given the current military situation. Most of our residents are from Kharkiv, Bucha, Dniepro or Zaporozhzhia. No one wants to live under the Russian rule. History is too painful. Many of our guests keep the flame of hope alive, small though it is, that one day they will be able to reclaim their aborted lives. We do what we can to help feed that flame.