The afternoon started off busy and got busier. I’m not going to be able to properly explain all I’m witnessing. The sheer logistical, monetary, and human challenges, and how these agencies are responding with such vigor, is purely remarkable. But I’m gonna try because, we’ll, that’s the point of this blog.
Sara Rosenbaum and I walked across the street to the train station before the official program started. Two Polish soldiers asked for our passports and laughed when they saw we were Americans. “What are you doing here?” We said we were with a group and could they show us around. They did. They could not have been nicer and more proud of the operation.
There’s a giant tent where World Central Kitchen is feeding 15,000 refugees per day and giving them things they need like toothbrushes and also food to take with them when they leave. Inside the train station the Polish government gives them SIM cards and helps them with their papers. There’s a medic room and a room for mothers to feed their babies and a room for pets. For many, this is the first stop outside of Ukraine and they’ll need to figure out their next steps from here.
The official program began with a quick stop at a synagogue to meet with the JDC. We unloaded 1 of our 2 trucks’ worth of donations. See the video and remember that that’s only HALF of our stuff. Note to all of you: duffel bags are heavy.
The JDC is currently spending about $52 million for 4-6 weeks, or about $4m per day. It is amazing. They help Jews but will not turn away non-Jews. They work with JAFI and Chabad and other agencies and organizations.
Refugees come in and they don’t always know what they want or what they need or where they’re going. Most say they want to return to Ukraine but it’s not a realistic option because the town they came from no longer exists. Generally speaking, the refugees change their minds frequently, and most don’t want to travel across the ocean unless they know someone. All of that is 100% understandable. They lost everything and left someone — husbands, dads, friends, etc. — behind. Even the pets are not immune.
Many are sent to Germany, believe it or not, for medical treatment. Talk about irony. Holy moly.
The supply room at this particular JDC facility is not just a room full of stuff. It expands and contracts like an accordion when goods are added or taken. Clothing is key especially for kids at school, but there are different clothes for different seasons so more is needed.
JDC has assisted 18,000 Jewish refugees. I’ll get back to that later I’m sure.
The sheer logistical and on-the-ground collaboration of all this is truly amazing.