Journalistic contest

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Journalistic contest
8
2007
ENGLISH EDITION
ISSN 1896-3048
Journalistic contest
Refugee.pl
2nd edition
2 0 0 7
With pleasure we are presenting the 8th edition of
our newspaper. This issue of
Refugee.pl is dedicated to
the essays awarded in the
2nd edition of the journalistic
contest. The jury of the contest has granted 4 main prizes and 6 additional awards.
2 articles already published
on Refugee.pl were also distinguished in a separate category go to essays already
published on Refugee.pl.
Congratulations
to all winners !!
In issue:
Awarded essays . . . . . . . . . . . pages 1–4
Refugees on the border . . . . pages 5–6
A few words about a boy from

Chechenya and ourselves. . . . . . page 6
Association for Legal

Intervention. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 7
Id Mubarak. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 8
Photo Ewa Pintera
1st place
Christopher Fuh
Cameroon
An essay on how I perceive the Polish reality in which I live, things
that surprised me after I arrived
here and unexpected situations,
which I encountered.
M
y first encounter with Poland took place when
I was still a secondary school student. One of
the subjects was history of Europe, and I was
fascinated by the history of Poland and its division between the European superpowers: Poland was like a cake
and each superpower could get a piece of it.
My decision to come to Poland was like traveling into
the unknown, especially because I did not know much
about modern Poland. I always thought about Poland
as a strong, traditional, Catholic country, and being
a Catholic myself, I knew I would feel at home there.
When I finally came to Poland and spent several months
here, I started to get used to the Polish mentality, tradition and culture. The most often asked question – often
accompanying the first handshake – has been ‘What are
you doing in Poland?’ At first, I found it irritating, but
as time passed, I began to understand the reason for it.
Most Poles say their country is poor. They have no idea
what might possibly attract foreigners to come here.
They believe that while most Poles are leaving their
country, searching for better opportunities in other
European countries, I should not even be thinking
about coming here, because, as they believe, there is
nothing to do here. I always explain to them why I’m
here: that I have applied for refugee status, that I have
come here to find protection against prosecution that
I experienced in my homeland and that they should
not forget that other countries used to welcome Polish
refugees, especially in the communist times. Moreover,
as I say, Poland is not as poor as the African countries,
and according to statistical data, its economic growth
index is impressive. Sometimes I joke I came here to
fill the gap which emerged after too many Poles left to
other European countries....
One of the most surprising things after I came to Poland – and, I must admit, it was a positive surprise – is
the fact that there are very little racist attacks here – unlike in some European countries, like Germany or Belgium, which have even recorded some fatal accidents.
Of course, there are verbal attacks, conflicts and fights
based on racial differences between the Poles and the
foreigners, especially black ones, and I have had such
experiences as well.
I have met many Poles, and I have concluded that the
elderly persons are very kind, understanding and sympathetic. One can see and feel that they fully understand
the general human values, especially when it comes
to foreigners, and their knowledge of human values is
impressive. However, like in any other society, there
are always the parents who do not tolerate foreigners,
which I have been made aware of and found a painful
experience. In my case, the parents of my ex-girlfriend
threatened to disinherit her if she married me. Finally,
she submitted to their will.
When I came to Poland, instinctively I expected to have
as many Polish friends at my age as possible. What I have
experienced is some kind of solemnity, lack of warmth
and a sense of uncertainty and fear in contacts with foreigners. I have understood that in the case of relations
with foreigners, opinions of others are very significant
and influence greatly the decisions made by the Poles. In
many cases, I have heard that the opinions of friends and
family played a significant role in the process of deciding whether a Polish woman would marry a foreigner,
especially a black one. And looking at it objectively, the
number of mixed marriages is growing and I think it is
very good. However, the process of social integration in
Poland is still painfully slow.
An element of the Polish reality is the fact that in order
to be successful, you have to speak Polish at least a bit.
Even a basic knowledge of the language may be useful. It
seems to me that everyone is accepted more easily here if
they know the Polish language, customs and traditions.
As I have already participated in parties and events such
as weddings, when I am at a wedding party, I am able to
dance and sing the traditional Polish wedding songs. In
such cases, I always meet with admiration and we try to
strengthen the ties together.
Finding any job in Poland is a challenge due to various factors such as lack of permit for employment or
the status. Nobody can afford the risk of employing
a person who does not have the required documents.
I have attempted to get a job at various institutions, but
I have not received a reply from any of them. I believe,
nonetheless, that I should contribute somehow to the
welfare of the Polish society.
Everyday life in Poland is normal, just like that of every
ordinary Pole, in a sense that I travel by bus, tram or
subway. Only sometimes it is difficult to find anyone
2nd place
Dawuda ALHASSAN
Ghana
We would like to know how you
perceive the Polish reality. Did anything surprise you or shock you
when you came to Poland? Describe
the situation that you encountered.
Tell us about your astonishment...
W
hen I came to Poland from Ukraine, I knew
nothing about Poland. I only knew from my
friends that Poland was a member state of
the European Union and that it was Western Europe.
When I saw the police after I came here, I was really
horrified that the police would want to check my documents and bother me. In Ukraine, whenever you see
the police, they approach you and check your documents. Even if your visa is valid, some policemen want
to get money from you. In Poland, the police does not
check your documents too often, so everyone is free to
move about without fear.
On the first day in Poland, I was happy when a guy
accosted in the street in English answered me. I had
though living here without knowing Polish would be
as difficult as in Ukraine, but here almost everyone
speaks English, which makes me feel more secure.
Buses, trains and trams in Poland have fixed schedules,
and buses run 24 hours a day seven days a week. On
working days, there is a bus on the bus stop every ten
minutes, and on the weekends – every twenty minutes.
On the bus, I have noticed that young people show respect to the elderly. When a young person sees an elderly one standing, and there are no seats available, they
get up immediately to offer their seat. I have learned
this great custom here. Moreover, you do not have to
pay for the ticked before entering the bus, it should
rather be bought at a store or from the driver right after
getting on. In Warsaw, the same ticket is valid for the
buses, the subway and the trains, which is very good.
All bus, tram, subway and train drivers are well dressed
here. On the other hand, there is only one subway line
here, while in Ukraine there are plenty. Therefore, I am
asking myself whether Poland is a member state of the
EU or a Western country? Trains run throughout the
country and they travel to the neighboring countries,
but I do not know anything about that.
I look at the beautiful bridges, roads, hotels, stores and
universities. Bridges and roads have been built beautifully and wonderfully. The streets are cleaned every
morning, and the roads – every evening, so in comparison with some African countries, the Polish streets
are clean. In the streets you can see that the Poles like
it very much to walk and play with their pet animals.
They pay a lot of attention to them. When the Poles
have a child and it is playing, they pay more attention
to it than anything else, looking after it. In Africa, the
to exchange smiles with. Everyone is serious and sad.
I am an open-minded, warm and friendly person, and
I rarely miss any occasion to share my ideas and experiences. In my country, at any street corner or on a bus,
you can always find someone who will make you smile
or laugh despite your problems. Someone who will tell
you a joke or a short story. It is not like that in Poland
– and I find it surprising.
Summing up, I think that when it comes to integration or cultural diversity in Poland, attitudes of the
people towards foreigners will change substantially
sooner or later. More and more Poles travel abroad and
they return with new experience and a changed way
of thinking. Poland is becoming increasingly open to
the world, which can be proven by the fact that it is
about to enter Schengen. It may thus turn into a ‘sightseeing must’ on the map of Europe, attracting tourists
thanks to the richness of its tradition and the beauty of
its landscape.
parents do not have so much time for their children,
even the rich ones. In my countries, people have no
time for animals, but in Europe, and especially in Poland, they do, even too much.
The most surprising thing for me was that the Poles,
both the old and the young ones, drink and smoke. It is
very difficult to find anyone who would not drink and
smoke in Poland. When I ask my Polish friend why he
smokes, he says it is very cold and he has to warm up
somehow. I also saw that he was smoking in the summer, but he did not tell me why then. In my country,
you never get to see a woman or a teenager smoking or
drinking, but here or in Ukraine you see it all the time.
The foreigners imitate the Polish custom of drinking
and smoking. ‘Charity starts at home’, a proverb says. If
the Polish children are not looked after, they will imitate their parents, and soon the whole nation will drink
and smoke.
Lately, I saw a man with some disorder, surrounded by
rubbish, at the railway station in Warsaw. When the
police tried to walk him out, he was resistant and they
had to use force. In my country, nobody would get interested in a crazy man. It shows that the Polish cities
are clean, because they are well prepared to keep all
people with disorders in a single place.
I will also not forget May 19th, the Museum Day. On
that day, all Poles and foreigners wait in queues to enter
museums free of charge. On that day, there were special
buses running between museums; I had never seen anything like that before. Besides, at every museum, there
is a day when the entrance is free. In my country, there
are no free entrance days at the museums.
It is interesting that Polish lessons are free of charge.
An example is the Polish Humanitarian Action, where
you can receive assistance in the form of two lessons per
week, a notebook, textbooks, pens, pencils, an eraser
and Internet access. There are also English lessons for
those foreigners who want to study it, and law courses
to let the refugees get familiar with the Polish legislation and their rights. Lawyers helped me to prepare my
CV, a cover letter, a business plan and they helped me
to find a voluntary service job. With the PHA I visited ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’, the Zoo and the Royal Castle
in Warsaw.
At ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’, we (the refugees) were showed
around and we got to see the journalists at work. We
could ask questions and find out about the way articles
were published. Then we were trained at the PHA, we
learned to write texts, find pictures and place them on
the Web page refugee.pl. During the two-day journalist
training for refugees, we were provided with bus tickets, a breakfast and a lunch.
At the Zoo, we could see animals from Poland and
various other countries, but I did not get to see a snake.
It was very interesting to see how the Zoo was created
and to read the descriptions of all animals and insects
on the cages. There is a building inside, in which you
can watch various species of fish behind a glass panel.
It was good to go there. I liked not only the Zoo, but
also the Royal Castle – also inside, with the exhibition
on the history of the Polish currency and the old traditions. What an interesting history!
Also the Intercultural Centre of Vocational Adaptation (ICoVA) assists refugees who want to stay here
and who are looking for a job. At the Centre, one can
learn Polish three times a week, get familiar with the
Polish culture and legislation and learn how to look for
a job on the labor market. One can get pens, textbooks,
monthly passes and meals during the lessons free of
charge. After a three-month course, free certificates
are awarded. There are other services as well: a legal
advisor, an occupational advisor, a cultural consultant
– all for free. I had never encountered anything like
that before. With the ICoVA, I visited the Warsaw University Library, the Ethnographic Museum, Zachęta
Art Gallery. Now I have a library card for 9 PLN for
two years. I can use the internet and the library facilities. If it were not for them, how would I have found out
about things like that?
During the lessons at the ICoVA, I found out that the
Poles had a very good culture. Poland was non-existent for two hundred years, and that is why it is in their
hearts. At least ninety percent of all Poles are Catholics. I doubt that, though, because there are so many
bars and restaurants and they sell beer everywhere,
and there are cigarettes in every kiosk. So, who are the
people buying beer and cigarettes?
Another organization which helps refugees, is the Migrant Centre, where one can take advantage of free
Polish lessons, the internet and a canteen. It is a Catholic organization, my teacher there is very nice and she
is there on the weekends. She organized a tour for us to
the Old Town and a museum. Then she invited us for
a lunch to a Vietnamese restaurant, spending her own
pocket money on that.
The Muslim Centre in Warsaw organized Arabic lessons for Muslims and non-Muslims wanting to study
Arabic. I have been there and it is free. Muslims behave
very well at the mosque. However, no place for prayer
can be found in downtown Warsaw.
June 26th is the Refugee Day. On that day I could see
that the Poles loved refugees. I participated in such
a day for the first time. All NGOs helping refugees were
there to celebrate with them. I still cannot forget that
day.
In my country, we spend vacations in the capital city.
Here, on the other hand, people go to the countryside,
to the mountains, to the seaside. There is respect, but
the way the young people treat the elderly is not good.
Lately, some boys on a bus were talking too loud and an
elderly woman told them to keep it quiet. One of them
started quarrelling with her. The people on the bus said
nothing, they were just looking at them. In Africa, they
would tell the boy to be quiet or the bus driver would
order him to get off or beat him up.
Young Poles like to kiss each other on the bus. The boys
usually put their hands under the clothes of ladies in
the streets. I find it strange.
Lately, I left my cell phone on the bus. I thought it was
lost. When I called my number, somebody picked up
and told me to come over and get it. We met, he gave me
back my phone without any conditions or a payment.
But he did not shake my hand. I thanked him and God
bless him.
This is what foreigners living in Poland should learn
from the Poles. If a foreigner found my phone, I do not
think I would get it back.
2nd place
Czesław Niewicz
Belarus
A penny for good luck
We would like to know how you
perceive the Polish reality. Did
anything surprise you or shock you
when you came to Poland? Describe
the situation that you encountered.
Tell us about your astonishment...
E
very human being, and especially a foreigner,
finds it difficult to get used to a new situation,
new ways of functioning, customs and rules in
a foreign country. It is particularly difficult for those
who had known nothing about the country they chose
as their new home, where they would search for happiness, before they arrived.
I thought I had known enough about Poland, but it
turned out I knew almost nothing. My notions of this
country emerged in the times when the Soviet Union
was coming to an end. Then, opposing against the totalitarian communist propaganda, thanks to geographical closeness and shared history of western Belarus and
Poland, our citizens were able to raise the ‘iron curtain’
a little bit and ‘peek’ at the life of the so-called ‘rotten
West’. Using an ordinary ski pole as an antenna, one
could get to see the world thanks to a screen and a radio
receiver. Poland was never really the ‘West’, which was
expressed by a popular proverb in the USSR: ‘Kurica nie
ptica, Pol’sza nie zagranica’ (A hen is not a bird, and Poland is not a foreign country) – but because of its history,
it never became a part of the ‘East’ and it always had its
unique character and style.
Lady Pank and their ‘Castles in the Sand’ and ‘Less
than Zero’, Maanam and Kora, Abba on Channel Two,
Marek Niedźwiedzki – Channel Three, Radio dla Ciebie (For You), broadcasting albums of popular singers
from Western Europe, Justyna Steczkowska and her
‘Shaman’s Girlfirend’, ‘Kojak’ series on Channel Two,
Saturday Night Movies on Channel One, Trybuna Ludu
newspaper with the TV programme and people waiting in queues to buy it, Chłopska Droga, a subscription
magazine with posters of movie stars, which was sort
of fashionable for some time... Katarzyna Figura in the
movies ‘Train to Hollywood’ and ‘Kingsize’, Stuhr in
‘Sexmission’, screened in our country in a censored ver-
2nd place
Gayan
Sri Lanca
My life in Poland
We would like to know how you
perceive the Polish reality. Did
anything surprise you or shock you
when you came to Poland? Describe
the situation that you encountered.
Tell us about your astonishment...
I
did not plan my journey to Poland, but fate brought
me here anyway. Before I got here, many changes had
taken place in my life, I had left my country searching
for assistance and protection. A war destroyed the happiness of my family, and I feared for my future. Six years ago,
war caused separation with my father, who left to France
sion, rated as 16+ under the title ‘The New Amazons’, Big
Brother produced by TVN, Motor Magazine... We liked
the soccer matches of Jagiellonia Białytok, we listened
to the unique commentaries of Dariusz Szpakowski,
fascinated by the loud ‘One more’ after each goal and
singing of the hymn of Poland before each match of the
national team (which still makes me want to cry when
I think about it), the characteristic gesture of Kozakiewicz after his victory during the Olympic Games in
Moscow in 1980, a pen pal from Wrocław, Agnieszka Rochala, her stickers and postcards, which at the time were
something absolutely unattainable for me in Belarus, letters ‘ł’, ‘ę’, ‘ą’ – I remember asking my older brother what
they meant, ‘May they live a hundred years!...’, which in
Belarus is still an expression of the best birthday wishes,
Odra jeans, Solidarity, the martial law, almost two years
of prohibited correspondence and border crossing – that
is what Poland was and still is for me, although some
time after I moved, these notions were somewhat modified and made more complete.
Initially, after coming to Warsaw, I was not too eager to
take advantage of the public transport, I was surprised
by its diversity – buses, trams, the subway, the SKM and
WKD trains – I did not know where and how to buy the
tickets, I was afraid of the ticket inspectors. I was surprised by the large number of the homeless in downtown
Warsaw with their specific smells and behaviors. Initially, it was difficult for me to walk along Marszałkowska
street because of the large amounts of, well, let’s call
them dogs’ excrements. I was surprised by the slow pace
of living of the inhabitants of Warsaw, as well as their
unbelievable politeness: ‘Excuse me’, ‘Please sit down’,
‘Thank you kindly’ – you can hear such expressions everywhere and I don’t think these are just empty words.
I have the impression that they are an indicator of the
lifestyle of the Poles, inherited by subsequent generations. I still cannot get used to the new words, adapted
by Polish from Russian, which are loved so much by the
youth. The shopping centers and skyscrapers, emerging so quickly, impressed me greatly at first. A minute
of silence on every anniversary of Warsaw Uprising,
when the road traffic stops and the inhabitants of the
city pay tribute to those who died fighting for freedom,
independence and development of their country, raises
my great respect and envy towards the Poles. The large
number of bicycle lanes shows that the Poles love sport
very much. Doughnuts, tripe, bigos (cabbage with meat)
are a proof of the sophisticated taste and specific character of the local cuisine. On the other hand, I miss many
dishes from my childhood, and the surprising custom
of adding apple to all salads is a bit inconsistent with
my notion of tasty food. I still do not understand why
non-refined sunflower oil enjoys so little popularity in
Poland, and I prepare tripe and luncheon meat as a soup
and not as the main course.
These and other differences between Poland and Belarus will remain, I have perceived many issues as dilemmas and they have made me ask myself ‘Why?’. As
time passed, however, everything turned out to be very
simple and obvious, answers came to me, often thanks
to the fact that I asked questions, read newspapers,
periodicals, spending time with the Poles. The public
transport tickets are available at every kiosk, and in Poland, unlike in Belarus, they are not divided into bus
and tram tickets. The ticket inspectors, who approach
passengers, start each conversation with ‘Good morning’ and end it with ‘Thank you’, which is absolutely
contrary to my ideas and expectations. Nobody makes
you leave the bus, nobody sermonizes, nobody pulls
your arms, nobody humiliates you – it all takes place
quietly, quickly and professionally. The homeless are
treated like people who need compassion and support,
which proves the sense of tolerance in the Polish society.
The slow pace of life is transformed into understanding, sometimes it is enough to say ‘I’m sorry’, and the
simple courtesies, which may seem very formal, should
be taught to foreigners coming to Poland. The Polish
cuisine is traditional on one hand, but it is also very
diversified, you just have to try to find a vast number
of dishes prepared without the components one does
not like. It is all up to our will and imagination. Everywhere in Warsaw, there are special places designated
for walking the dogs – the Poles see the existing problems, they understand them and make their best to reduce and liquidate all inconveniences and things that
may cause discomfort of the inhabitants and guests.
‘Take the penny for good luck’, I heard from a barman at
a cafe opposite to Smyk Shopping Center in Aleje Jerozolimskie. I was surprised, but it was pleasant; my astonishment was due to the fact that nobody does things like
that in my country. If anything, one could expect quite
the contrary. Suddenly I felt free, I was intoxicated by
freedom, real freedom, not the proverbial idea born in
Paris, and I decided it was surely just a customary gesture, so I did not accept the change. I was in the West,
after all, in Warsaw. But I guess I should have accepted
the change. One should listen and watch closely the reality in the country, in which they want to spend their
lives. One should get used to the new customs and rules,
instead of enforcing their own. It makes understanding
of this reality much easier, and ordinary existence turns
into real life, there is a place for understanding and happiness, which is a dream of every man.
For a start, you can just take the penny and enjoy the
thought that your personal life is in your pocket. And
in case of a failure, you can hold this talisman and say
to yourself: ‘There is happiness, it’s not possible that it is
not there!’, and face the temporary challenges with new
energy to turn them into a series of successes.
in 2001. Then, series of actions aimed against my family
started: threats, humiliation, insults... finally, I had to do
what my father had done several years earlier. I went to Cyprus in February 2006. I left my mother and two younger
brothers in Sri Lanka. It was very difficult for me.
After I left, my family encountered many difficult situations.
I was unable to help them, being in Cyprus, my father was
also helpless; our family escaped to India several times to
escape further problems. It was a very difficult period for
me, especially that for eight months I also lived in an environment which was not friendly towards refugees.
Before I came to Poland, I had known little about this
country, I had no family or friends here, but I had often imagined Poland, when I lived in Cyprus. In order to be able
to get to another country, one needs a reason. I filed an
application to get an opportunity to study in Poland, I got
a visa and I arrived here.
I found myself in the territory of Poland in the morning
on September 27th, 2006, after a 4-hour flight from Cyprus. I came from Larnace airport to Warsaw. I promised
myself I would never go back to Cyprus again. When we
were approaching Warsaw and I saw the Polish land, I had
a feeling as if I had visited the country many times before. I felt as if I were going back home. Poland is not my
homeland, but I often feel that my memories try to tell me
something, that I am not a foreigner in Warsaw, although
I am a stranger here.
Then I landed in Warsaw and I was wondering who would
pick me up from the airport. Finally, a boy from India,
from my Polish school, approached me asking whether
I was Gayan. He took me to a hostel. In the taxi cab, I asked
him how many foreigners lived in Poland. He said there
were many, but somehow I could not believe that. When
I had lived in Cyprus, many foreigners could be seen in the
streets, there were even more of them than Cypriots. In
Poland, one can see mostly white people, with a few exceptions.
Finally we reached the hostel. It all started here. We lived in
two bedrooms, five beds each. There was little space and
it was expensive – we had to pay 600 PLN per month for
it. I spent 5 months there, living with people from Bangladesh and India. Most of them escaped Poland as soon as
they could, many of them did not even stay in Poland for
one month. It was difficult for me to communicate with
them, they did not trust me at all and they were not eager
to speak to me. They would stick together and often miss
lessons at school.
From the beginning of October until the end of the summer I attended the school. When autumn started, it became very cold. It rained a lot, but it was not like in Asia,
it was a ‘lazy’ sort of rain and it made me very sleepy. The
tree leaves became yellow and brown, which seemed
very beautiful to me, and finally I concluded that I loved
winter.
I remember that during my first day at the Polish school
I was very intrigued. I could only see the Polish students
everywhere, I wondered where all the foreigners were as
I got late for the first lesson. Then I found my class, fortunately there were many Asian people there and even
several students from Africa. I was curious if there was
anyone from my country, but most foreigners came from
Punjabi in India, and the others were from Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. They all communicated in Hindi and
I could not understand them. They gathered in small
groups from individual countries and they talked in languages I did not know. I did not want to belong to any of
these groups and for a long time I did not really have any
friends, except for several persons from Africa and from
other Asian countries.
I was very glad to become friends with a girl from Ukraine,
who was a student at our class. Her name was Anastacia,
she was very beautiful and young, 19 years old. Our meetings were quite strange, because I am a rather shy person
and I always avoided talking about my feelings. It is always
like that with me, when I have some special feelings for
a girl, but the fact that I was so shy also brought us closer
together, and until the end of the first semester we spent
time nicely with each other.
Then I found out my family was getting into trouble more
and more. My brothers stopped going to school, because
they were fearing the growing persecutions. Finally I decided to bring them to Poland, I started searching for assistance and information on how I could do that.
At the beginning of the second semester, many new students escaped from Poland to wealthier countries. The
city got covered with snow, and I saw snow for the first
time in my life. It became cold and not very nice, but in
Additional Award
Gianluca Bartalucci
Italy
Brain and noses
30
years ago I made a dream that summarizes my whole existence. A plane has just
landed and I’m the boss of the airport,
the person who should check passengers’ passports. In
front of me there’s a long line of people. Suddenly I see
a strange figure among them. It’s a very old Chinese man,
dressed in poor clothes but with a sort of regal appearance, and he stinks. Stinks very much, stinks too much. He’s
waiting, right in front of me. He’s waiting for my words,
for my permission. I’m the only one who can let him enter. He stops and doesn’t speak a word. He doesn’t look
at me, he’s completely absorbed by himself. I look at my
desktop: there’s a label that affirms that I am, without doubts, the boss. The leader. The one who commands. But,
now, I don’t know what to do. I’m afraid to let him pass,
‘cause he’s so different, and I don’t comprehend him. I don’t want to let him in. I’m afraid he can upset my peaceful
life. Because of my weakness, I say an excuse, a tremendous lie. I’m not able to assume my responsibilities. I say:
- You know, I can’t decide. It’s not my duty. To be honest,
I’m not the one who commands, here -. Then I walk away,
just few steps, but I don’t make a decision. I overstay
a little bit more, and I wonder if he’ll be there still, if I come
back. This thought paralyzes me. I’ve fear he’s still there,
waiting for me. But I’ve also fear he’s gone. Unstoppable
fear. That’s all. I’ve been thinking about this dream for 30
years. I’ve learned, finally, that there was nothing wrong
with his smell. There was, instead, something wrong with
my nose (1).
Using this dream as metaphor, the famous moviemaker
Federico Fellini perfectly explained what’s the strong
power of stereotypes. Something one can hardly remove
not only from society, but even from himself. It’s complicated to separate from them because they’re part of
human mind. Brain likes to work in economy: that’s why
fact I like the winter weather as it is something new for
me. Darkness and fog gave the city an exceptional look,
completely different from Asia. I fell ill quite often. I wanted my family to come to Poland in the summer, because
if my mom were to come here at such weather, it would
be very harmful for her health. She requires care and
good conditions.
There were several unpleasant situations. I fell ill and the
hotel owners asked me to move out within two days.
I asked why I was to move out. They told me that the
agreement between the hotel and the school had been
terminated. At the school, I was not informed of it, and no
alternative accommodation was organized for me. Finally,
I asked for assistance at the office for international cooperation, but they said they could not help me and I had to
get an apartment for myself on my own. I had one day to
do that, the weather was horrible, my feet were getting
cold, and I had to wander around the city, looking for an
apartment.
Finally I found one in Natolin, but I had to rent it on my
own. After a month, I managed to bring my mother and
brothers to Poland and they started to live with me. We
have lived there ever since, so my family has not encountered all the problems that I had faced before their arrival.
After the arrival of my family, my life changed quite a lot.
I met many wonderful people from organizations which
help foreigners and refugees. I have started working for
these organizations, too, which makes me very happy.
I am able to work with people and for people; this kind
of satisfaction cannot be bought, even if one has a lot of
money.
I am surrounded by many wonderful people now, it is
a good period in my life. I still have many problems, I am
afraid of the future, but I can stop thinking about many
things as I am surrounded by my family and new friends
that I can talk to.
One of the best things that happened to me in that period was finding a school for my brothers. My mom has got
very good medical care, her health is good and it is also
a good period in her life.
I am planning many changes in the future, at present I am
attending Polish lessons, which will help me to become
independent. The lessons are difficult and I really have to
learn a lot. I can proudly say that I speak Polish already,
although not fluently. Nevertheless, I am able to cope with
many situations on my own.
I am relatively young, so I should write something about
the Polish girls. Let me put it this way – I like them more
than the girls in my country. I did not really have time or
opportunities to go out with girls in Sri Lanka as I spent
my time reading books and I was not interested in the opposite sex. After coming to Poland, though, I became interested in them and I hope that in the future I will find the
best wife in Poland, as I have met many girls, who helped
me many times and I have the impression that the Polish
girls like it very much to help the foreigners. Before I came
here, in Cyprus I had met a Polish girl who helped me. At
the airport, another Polish girl helped me. Polish girls have
been helping me a lot ever since.
So, I would like to get advantage of this opportunity to
thank all those who have helped me with their advice,
support, friendship and good words. I thank them with all
my heart, I thank them for everything, for their support, for
their good hearts. Me and my brothers, we had to go such
a long way... I do not know what our future will be like, but
time will tell our story to others as we do not know our
fates yet.
Some of our stories are sad, others are merry. Just like human life, we are not able to create a better world, but we
can become better people, we can establish better families, which can make up better communities and states.
And a better state can create a better world and a better
future!
it tends to stick easy labels on everything, putting all the
things it gets to know into banal categories, making as
simple as possible a reality that otherwise would be too
complex to comprehend. It generalizes, if you don’t force
it to think in a different way, it tries to find out universal
rules to understand the world. And he sadly fails, very
often, because you cannot apply rules to human beings.
Human is a bizarre creature, you can’t put him inside
a box. Every person is different from all the others. That’s
the reason why, to be short, stereotypes are inaccurate,
and using them to perceive the world could led people to
make big, unpleasant, mistakes. From denied marriages
by narrowed mind parents to inconceivable holocausts,
as history teaches.
People which come from a different world into ours have
learned on the their skin what stereotypes are. Sometimes they’re marginalized by society just because of this
simplistic way of thinking, just because it’s too much
hard to stop the label sticking process. In Italy, if you
come from Africa you’re surely a thief. Or a wannabe
criminal. Or a dangerous rapist. In USA, if you arrive
from Mexico, there’s no doubt you’re lazy, aimless, even
useless for society (the cartoon ‘Speedy Gonzalez’ has
been banned in USA just for its racist contents). Today,
if a Muslim comes to a western country, it’s quite likely
he could be categorized as an untrustworthy person, someone who can be, who knows, even a bomber, a killer,
a terrorist, the owner of the Kubrick’s doomsday machine. In many countries, the coming refugees – those
who flee they homeland for political causes – are immediately classified as job-thiefs, criminals or more simply
people which have to go back home. They are here only
to steal our jobs and to ruin our society, like all the other
strangers.
For many, these are sharp rules to follow without any
hesitation. As we said before, these prejudices help to reduce the whole world to a simple, stupid thing. It doesn’t
matter if reality shows the opposite, if everyday’s life demonstrates these rules are really contradictory. In Italy,
Africans do a lot of hard and dirty jobs which Italian
don’t want to do anymore but that are indeed fundamental for economy and society. Many of them are hard
workers and they don’t complain, never, not even they’re
exploited and pushed to work more than 12 hours per
day. In USA, maybe million of Mexican cleaning ladies
are now sweating to make a kitchen shine or a child sleep
well, taking care about million luxury American houses,
even though they’re thought to be lazy and not predisposed to work. It’s only about two different view of life,
nothing more than this: ‘In the last twenty years, there
has been an increasing influx of immigrants from the
country of Mexico. Mexican culture centers on the family leader and a fervor for life. Ambition is important
but not a focus. Because of this, Americans have come to
view them as aimless, lazy thieves. Over and over, Mexicans who cannot enter America legally are exploited to
work in factories and shops with little pay, poor conditions and mistreatment’. (2)
To answer-back the belief that every Muslim is a terrorist you just need to remember that millions of them
live peaceful among us, sometimes doing high quality
jobs as well, and they could be very important for western society development. Talking about refugees, their
stories are usually unknown and weak voiced, not able
to reach the stage of public opinion, so the destiny of
these people is to be often exchanged for common migrants, though they’ve run away from their homelands
not for economical reasons. It’s also common to think
they’re poor, they live perhaps in a makeshift tent set up
in a yard somewhere and that they are used to survive
in underprivileged conditions, but this is not true. Not
always, at least.
That’s the way stereotypes work. That’s the way they
blind people’s minds. It’s all about perceiving the world:
do we want to see it as it really is or do we want to believe
it’s divided in black and white, good and evil, criminals
and honest faces? Is it reality or just a sad fairytale? Is it
because of the smell or is it because of my lazy, inexperienced, nose?
(1) taken from Io, Federico Fellini, written by Charlotte
Chandler (1995).
(2) http://www.geocities.com/onemansmind/op/America.
html
Izabela meyza
Refugees at the border
Many refugees decide to cross the Polish border
illegally, filing a refugee status application only in
Warsaw. It is good to know, however, that the chances
for being granted refugee status or a tolerated stay
permit are the same regardless of the place of filing
of the application. The Border Guards (regardless of
whether they work in Warsaw) are obliged to inform
every foreigner of the procedure and accept
the refugee status applications.
T
he number of refugees who cross the Polish borders illegally, has not been decreasing. In 2006,
officers of the Border Guard services detained
1113 people trying to get to Poland from Ukraine, crossing the border illegally. It translates into 3 persons detained every day. There are no statistics with regard to
the number of people who are successful in trying to
avoid the Border Guards. One can only estimate that
this number is much higher.
Why do so many refugees choose the illegal way? There
are various reasons.
The most obvious one is insufficient knowledge.
– I had no idea what were the Polish law provisions concerning crossing of the borders by Cameroonians. I don’t
speak the language, so how was I supposed to get that information? All I knew about Poland was that it was in
the European Union, and that’s why I wanted to get here,
– says David.
The foreigners often do not know that they can apply
for refugee status, and regardless of whether they file the
application at the border or at the office of Commanderin-Chief of the Border Guard in the country, the procedure is the same.
The Border Guards are obliged to inform them of the
procedure of granting refugee status. They may take the
fingerprints of the applicants. They have the right to
take their photographs. They should also issue the temporary identification certificates to persons applying for
refugee status. If these persons have no place to stay, the
Border Guards should sent them to the reception center
of the Office for Aliens in Dębak. Then the employees
of the Office for Aliens conduct interviews with the foreigners, which is an opportunity to prove that they meet
the conditions of being granted refugee status (which
are specified in the Geneva Convention and the New
York Protocol). During the interviews, the asylum seekers specify the reasons for leaving their country and they
prove that they cannot return to their homeland.
Pros and cons
Although any refugee may address a border guard at the
border, many are afraid of language problems.
– I speak neither Polish nor Russian. I was afraid I would
not understand what they were saying to me at the border,
– a refugee from Africa says.
The Border Guards reassure them:
– In a situation when the asylum seeker speaks a language
which is not known to the officer, we take advantage of
paid assistance of interpreters, – says Justyna Szubstar-
ska, the spokeswoman of the Commander-in-Chief of
the Border Guard.
Officers working at the eastern borders speak Russian
– so, the Russian-speaking refugees do not have to be
afraid of language problems. They are the most numerous group. Only every tenth foreigner filing the application is not from the territory of Russia.
Another concern is associated with the fact that we are
entering Schengen. Many refugees are afraid that starting from next year, the borders of Poland will be closed;
it is a misleading information.
– Our entering of Schengen will not lead to any changes in
this regard, – Justyna Szubstarska says.
Foreigners escaping war or prosecution want to make
sure they will get to the territory of the European Union.
They often file the refugee status application in Warsaw,
after crossing the border illegally. Informally, they say
they are afraid of being forced to face the border guards
and being treated unpleasantly. Queues at the borders
with our eastern neighbors are already very long, and
the Border Guards are often unable to take care of refugees who require medical and psychological assistance.
Therefore, refugees often choose the illegal way out of
fear. Instead of applying for refugee status at the border, they pay huge amounts of money to traffickers, who
bring them straight to Warsaw.
David, a refugee from Africa, crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border illegally. His friends contacted him with the
Ukrainian traffickers.
– It is not difficult to find persons engaged in trafficking of
people in Ukraine. You just have to pay to get to Poland,
– he says.
David does not know he could have applied for status at
the border.
– If I had known that, I would not have taken the risk,
I would be afraid of being returned.
For people coming from the East, Poland is the first
safe country. They can raise their children here peacefully. They have chances for employment. And our
membership in the EU gives them an opportunity to
be reunited with their families in other states of the
Community.
The stories from the border
Nina’s* story
Nina and her family lived in Grozny, where they survived the first war without living their house. The second war was shorter. However, the end of the armed
conflict did not bring the expected peace and security.
The living rhythm was imposed by armed groups,
which entered the houses of the local people in the
night during purges, kidnapping people. On one such
night, armed men entered Nina’s apartment and beat
her and her husband up while one of their daughters
was watching...
Their departure from Grozny was organized by a man
who had some contacts at the transit states on the way
to Belgium. The family chose this country due to good
medical care, of which they had heard in Chechnya.
Nina required an urgent surgery, and her daughter
needed psychological consulting. The escape cost the
family of seven about 11 thousand EUR, including the
purchase of the passports. They got to Brest by train.
Their journey was full of fear, uncertainty of what
would happen to them. It was still difficult for them to
accept the fact that they were leaving their homeland.
When describing the route, Nina cannot concentrate,
she gets back to the beginning of her story. I can conclude that before passing the Belarusian and Polish
border, she spent several nights with their family in an
apartment provided by the man transporting them.
They crossed the eastern Polish border, receiving seals
in their passports. In Poland, they were taken over by
another person organizing transport. They spent the
subsequent hours in a truck loaded with furniture,
which crossed the German border without any problems and took them to Belgium. They slept on a hard
floor, the temperature was low. Then they got to Brussels by train and there they went to the Office for Foreigners. Then they waited for six months for their refugee status applications to be considered. At the same
time, others were taken to various reception centers,
while they kept waiting. Nina managed to get the surgery. Her daughter did not get medical care. The family
received a negative decision regarding refugee status.
The reason was the seal of the Polish border service
which obliged the Polish state to accept the refugees.
The whole family was horrified. They were threatened by deportation to Poland. Once again, they did
not know what would happen to them, their fate was
in the hands of officials. They spent several months
at a deportation camp. The date of their departure
was shifted several times due to the bad health condition of their daughter. So, they were sitting idly at
the camp, looking at the swear words written on the
walls.
Their journey from Grozny to Belgium took 12 days,
and deportation to Poland – 2 hours...
In Poland, they managed to acclimatize after some
time. Their daughter was provided with psychological
counseling. Nina does her best to remain active, attending hairdressing and cooking courses. Her daughters
go to school. Nevertheless, when she recalls memories
from a year ago, had she been aware of their experiences, fear, the conditions encountered by her family
during the journey, she would have not decided to leave
Chechnya. During the journey, their health suffered
more than in Chechnya. However, it was in Chechnya
that they lost their sense of security, which they have
not been able to regain fully even in Poland.
Interviewer: Aleksandra Kowalczuk
Viktoria’s* story
We came by train from Nazran to Moscow. In Moscow, we
bought a ticket to Warsaw via Terespol. A tall border guard
with a dog approached us, a handsome man. We didn’t know
what would happen at all, they told us such things before our
departure. We hadn’t brought anything with us. We left it all
in Brest, at the house of our friend, our dishes and clothes and
everything... And when the border guards came in, I think they
knew what was going on... there were several other families with
us... The border guards asked for our documents and passports,
and then they asked where we were going, and we had absolutely
no idea where we were going... then they took us to some rooms,
they were very polite. But before us, they had been dealing with
some other Chechen family and they had not been so pleasant.
It’s true that they were somewhat dirty, but one of these employees was so disgusted when she approached them and when she
looked through their things.
And as I saw it, I just thought to myself that if she tried to treat
me like this, I would tell her what I thought. But when I approached, she behaved very well. She just looked through my
things. Afterwards I found out they had asked my sister where
we were going, and we didn’t even know, we didn’t know the
names of the cities, so she told them the truth, that we didn’t
know that yet, and the border guard started shouting at her, and
he sort of mocked her. When my sister told me that, I wanted
to quarrel with them about treating us this way, but I gave up.
Then there were the interviews, they photographed us and they
took our fingerprints... I said that in our country it was not possible to live, that there were rapes, kidnappings, killings. Then
we left the building, they let us out quite quickly, although I had
heard it took a very long time, but perhaps it was because there
were only two families with us, we came in the morning and we
were let free to go in the afternoon. They said we were free and
we could go, and we asked: Where? They told us to go to Dębak.
They told us we had to get on a train first, then on a bus, and we
said we didn’t speak the language, we didn’t know anything, and
they said it was our problem, not theirs. We left the building, we
didn’t know anything or anyone, and taxi drivers approached us
saying they would take us to Dębak for 150 EUR. So, then I got
back and asked them what Dębak was, and I found out it was
a refugee reception center where we would get assistance. Anyhow, when we found out about the 150 EUR, we were shocked,
because it’s an awful lot of money. We tried to bargain anyway,
because we didn’t have much more than that, we had to spend
a lot in Brest. Finally, we managed to get down to 140 EUR.
We gave them almost everything, I gave all my savings, all that
was left was a bit of food. And when we got to Dębak and other
Chechens came to greet us, the taxi driver said: borrow from
them and give me back my 10 EUR. I was speechless. ‘We agreed
for 140’, I told him. And then he started saying something, some
unpleasant things.
A few words about
a boy from Chechnya...
and ourselves
On October 13th and 14th, 2007, the 14th
Championships of Poland in wheelchair fencing were organized. One of the contestants was
a 13-year old boy – Umar Magamadow, a refugee from Chechnya. A coverage of the competition was broadcasted in the evening on
October 13th on TVP 3 in the TV programme
‘Sport for the fully fit’.
Umar came to Poland in April of this year, together with his family of five, escaping from
a country in a state of war. Two years ago, in
Chechnya, during an attack of Russian soldiers, the boy hid in a transformer and he lost
both his legs below the knees. At present he
lives in Warsaw at ‘Bielany’ refugee centre.
Since the beginning of July of this year, Umar
started to train fencing at the Integration
Sports Club (IKS) at the Academy of Physical Education under the supervision of a great
trainer – Tadeusz Nowicki, a president of the
Management Board of the IKS Association.
The boy has already enjoyed his first small
successes and he received a contestant’s cup
of the Championships of Poland. His trainer
is convinced that the boy may become a good
sportsman, and at the same time, help his entire family.
Uma, as he is being called by children from
his class, attends integration school no. 223 at
Kasprowicza street. Thanks to acceptance of
students from class VA and assistance of the
school authorities and the parents of his peers,
he acclimatized quickly, he has many friends.
Moreover, his family receives clothes, toys,
tickets for school trips.
Interviewer: Natalia Klorek
Zina’s* story
The customs officers at the border reminded me of fascists, they
were very unpleasant. We were walking up the stairs, I was carrying many bags and they made me go faster. Well, it has to be
admitted they did not make us stay there very long, some two
hours, and sometimes they keep people there for several days.
After they talked to us, they told us we were on our own and we
were to get to Dębak somehow. There was one more family there
apart from us, and together we managed to get there.
Interviewer: Natalia Klorek
* The names have been changed
On the picture Umar Magadamow
Despite a difficult financial situations and
living conditions, the boy’s father – Mr. Alwi
is full of optimism and hope that the family
would get refugee status in Poland, that he and
his wife would be able to start working soon to
provide a stable life and a sense of security for
the entire family.
I am full of admiration for this man. Every
day he takes Umar to school, then he gets back
home to get the younger children – Muslim,
one and a half years old and Amina, 3 years
old – to the kindergarten. Then the school
again, a fencing training, a fitting of the artificial limbs at the orthopedic clinic... and every
day is the same. Always when I meet him, he is
smiling and cheerful.
I am convinced that the attitudes of Mr. Alwi,
the brave Umar, as well as this Chechen family as a whole may serve as a great example for
both of us, not only for thousands of refugees
from Chechnya and other countries at war,
who feel lost in Poland, but also for us – the
Poles. Let us treat the story of little Umar as
a good example of a man searching for joy,
able to feel happy about small things, wanting
to change something in his life.
And the fact that a small boy from Chechnya was noticed by our society in such a short
time was possible thanks to ordinary people
of good will, casual people, who took care of
Umar, giving hope to him and his family, as
well as themselves. And one more thing: perhaps we – in Poland – should also be thankful
for the fact that the small Chechen boy has appeared in our lives.
Ilona Sawicka
A volunteer of PHO
Refugee Counseling Center
Katarzyna Wencel
Association for Legal Intervention (Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej – SIP) aims at advising those, who are
discriminated against and threatened with marginalization. SIP offers legal assistance to refugees and persons
applying for refugee status, convicts and former convicts,
their families, foster families or people who want to create foster families. SIP is involved in various activities
that result in changes of legal procedures or the practice
of their application towards labor and social groups mentioned above.
F
oreigners approach SIP mainly with various legal problems, as well as with social issues and
so called ‘integration’ issues. Within Foreigner
Section assistance is offered to those applying for refugee status as well as to those who already achieved
it. Furthermore, since July 2007 foreigners have had
access to Anti-Discrimination Assistant, who advises on issues related to discrimination due to ethnic
background, race, nationality or religion.
Last year Association was approached by a Chechen
person named Ruslan with an issue regarding his
younger brother Marzan. Marzan, contrary to Mr.
Ruslan, did not received refugee’s status. Mr. Ruslan
took care of Marzan in Chechenya and after they both
arrived in Poland. In an appeal irregularities in assessment of evidential evidence by – at that time – the
Head of the Office for Foreigners were pointed out, as
well as flagrant violation of administrative proceedings and violation of unity of family, which is one of
the most important principles while granting refugees
status. Office for Foreigners did not take into account
the fact that Mr Ruslan was the only person that took
care of his younger brother (their parents stayed in
Chechenya), thus granting one of the brothers refugee
status and second one only tolerated stay status resulted in placing underage Ramzan in a form of ‘vacuum’.
He could not return to his parents in Chechenya, as
his life would be threatened there. However, living
with his brother in Poland while having only tolerated stay status he could not get himself involved fully
in family life, as their different legal status would result in different legal consequences. According to our
expectations Refugee Board granted Ramzan refugee
status. Nowadays both brother live together, Mr. Ruslan is Ramzan’s legal guardian and Ramzan is going
to polish school and performing well.
Association also intervened in the case of Mr. Ashaa,
a stateless person, of Palestinian origin. Mr Ashaa
was granted refugee status and has been living in Poland for more than 10 years. Currently he is applying
for polish citizenship. Mr Ashaa approached SIP with
a problem of granting him social accommodation,
which took place three years ago. One year ago Mr
Ashaa submitted a request to Housing Unit regarding
entering into tenancy agreement, this time for unlim-
ited time period. He was refused a new tenancy agreement or prolonging current one and asked to vacate
the premises. It meant that Mr Ashaa, who was regularly paying rent, working legally and paying taxes
was threatened with eviction. Thanks to Mr Asha’s
determination and intervention of Association, he
could sign a new tenancy agreement, which allowed
him to remain in his own flat.
At the beginning of this year SIP received a phone call
from Belgium with information that a citizen of Cameroon will be soon deported from Belgium to Poland.
Association was asked to cake care of the situation.
Mrs. Lukane applied in Poland for refugeestatus and
SIP’s main activity throughout few months was obtaining necessary documents, so that Mrs. Lukane
could marry her fiancée, a French citizen, who stayed
in Cameroon. It turned out that apart from standard
documents additional ones were necessary. Obtaining them required numerous interventions in Government Offices and French Consulate. Mrs. Lukane
was all the time accompanied by a cross-cultural advisor, a translator and volunteers from Association.
After almost six months it was possible to register
tired, but happy Mrs. Lukane and her fiancée in the
Registry Office. The issue was solved successfully and
SIP worker was asked to be a witness during her wedding ceremony.
If you require professional legal assistance regarding the procedure of applying for refugee status
or in other situations (related to social issues, integration or discrimination) visit Association for
Legal Intervention.
We invite you!
Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej
Al. 3 Maja 12 lok. 510
00-391 Warszawa
tel./fax (022) 621 51 65
www.interwencjaprawna.pl
* Some names have been changed
»UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Warszawa 00-556, al. Róż 2
tel. (022) 628 69 30, 625 61 46
»International Organization for Migration (IOM)
Warszawa 00-831, ul. Mariensztat 8
tel. (022) 838 91 03
Non-governmental Organizations
Social assistance
»Polish Humanitarian Organization
Counseling Center for Refugees
Warszawa 00-031, ul. Szpitalna 5/18
tel. (022) 828 88 82
»A-venir Foundation
Lublin 20-704, ul. Wojciechowska 7J
tel. (081) 444 63 86/88
Białystok 15-062, ul. Warszawska 43/302
tel. (085) 74 04 288
»Caritas Warsaw
Warszawa 00-322, ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 62
tel. (022) 826 99 10
»Caritas Białystok
Białystok 43-200, ul. Warszawska 32
tel./fax (085) 732 55 53
»Caritas Lublin
Lublin 20-950, ul. Prymasa Stefana Wyszyńskiego 2
tel. (081) 743 71 86
»Caritas Zgorzelec
Zgorzelec 59-900, ul. Księdza Domańskiego 12
tel. (075) 771 65 61
»Polish Red Cross
Warszawa 00-561, ul. Mokotowska 14
tel. (022) 628 55 75, fax 628 41 68
Psychological assistance
»Caritas Warsaw
Warszawa 00-322, ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 62
tel. (022) 826 99 10
Legal assistance
»Halina Niec Legal Assistance Center
Kraków 31-136, ul. Sobieskiego 7/3
tel./fax (012) 633 72 23
Warszawa, ul. Chełmska 31/7
tel. (022) 841 78 22
»Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
Warszawa 00-018, ul. Zgoda 11
Dział Uchodźców: tel. (022) 556 44 66
»Association for Legal Intervention (SIP)
Warszawa 00-391, al. 3 Maja 12 lok. 510
tel. (022) 621 51 65
»Human Rights Center at the Jagiellonian
University's Legal Clinic
Kraków 30-033, Plac Inwalidów 4
tel./fax (012) 633 37 96
»Legal Clinic – Faculty of Law at Warsaw University
Warszawa 00-071, ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28
tel. (022) 552 08 11, tel./fax 552 43 18
»Caritas Warsaw
Warszawa 00-322, ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 62
tel. (022) 826 99 10
Organizations H E L P I N G R E F U G E E S
Welcome to
Association for
Legal Intervention
International Organisations
R
Katarzyna Duda
amadan is not an ordinary fasting month, understood as abstaining from worldly pleasures from sunrise until sunset.
In the first place, Ramadan is a period of self-discipline and
a struggle with one’s weaknesses (jihad). A rigorous lifestyle,
the ability to cope with many hours of fasting are great remedies for
human weaknesses which lead to numerous disasters: lack of endurance and impatience. After a month of fasting, the Muslims celebrate
the end of Ramadan with revelry.
On Sunday, October 14th, the Refugee Centre together with Chechen
ladies organized a celebration of the end of Ramadan.
The entire event was conducted in the atmosphere of warmth and
friendship. Employees of the Refugee Center and the Chechen ladies
took care of the culinary aspect of the celebration. Everyone could
try the traditional Chechen dishes, such as pilaf, as well as Polish
chicken broth and even a Turkish dish – the delicious eggplant with
an intriguing name ‘imam fainted’.
There were plenty of sweet cakes as well. A special attraction of the
evening was a fashion show prepared by employees of the tailor’s
shop of Ms. Bożena Sławek. The Chechen ladies presented clothes
they made themselves: fashionable jackets, shirts, and even a beautiful, elegant evening dress! The tailor’s shop of Ms. Bożena has
been working for more than a year. The training participants have
an opportunity to get familiar with sewing techniques that allow
them to make alterations, sew their own clothes for themselves, as
well as prepare special suits for stage performances of the children’s
Chechen traditional dancing group.
The celebration of end of Ramadan was also attended by refugees of
other ethnic origin and believers of other religions. It was one of a few
occasions to get to know each other better, to talk, to laugh, to integrate and surely to taste various dishes from different world cuisines.
Id Mubarak!
Photos Agnieszka Skoneczna
The month of Ramadan
is a remembrance of revelation of Qur’an,
which was received by Prophet Muhammad
on the ‘night of decree’.
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Polish Humanitarian Organization
Chief editors: Agnieszka Kosowicz, Ewa Pintera
Journalists: Gianluca Bartalucci, Anna Bartis,
Katarzyna Duda, Agnieszka Gendek, Monika
Kamińska, Paweł Kośmiński, Natalia Klorek,
Aleksandra Kowalczuk, Marta Kucharska, Agnieszka
Kunicka, Izabela Meyza, Joanna Obiegałka, Karolina
Redzicka, Agnieszka Skoneczna, Agnieszka
Szafrańska, Marzena Zera
Photo Department: Agnieszka Kunicka
Graphic project: Teresa Oleszczuk
Photos: Agnieszka Skoneczna, Ewa Pintera
Translators: Ewa Pintera, Marzena Zera
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