Fifteen minutes away from the border is the humanitarian aid center. It looks like a Lowe’s or Home Depot building. It is bustling, even today when they said it was not as busy as it has been.
At its peak a few weeks ago, it housed up to 1500 refugees in makeshift “beds” side by side in rows meticulously spaced five floor tiles apart. There were about 400 refugees there today.
There was a café and random tables where they could hang out and charge their phones. Organizations staffed booths and people can talk to each organization depending on which country they want to go to. Each country or organization has their own policy about how they get you where you want to go, who pays for it, and what happens when you get there. The JDC and JAFI want to get you to one of their centers, like the Focus Hotel, and take care of you from there. You’ll have your own room, it will be quieter, the food will be better, and so on.
There were rooms for the kids to draw pictures and play. Volunteers from the youth group Active Jewish Teens (Which is like BBYO but in Europe and Russia) are there to watch the kids and play with them.
Hadassah, along with a group called Natan, staff the medical room. We were allowed to take pictures here but nowhere else in the Center. There are supplies and medication on the shelves that are labeled with a Sharpie. The doctors talk to us for several minutes about the types of ailments that patients present. When it’s slow in the room, they walk around the Center and ask people if they’re feeling OK and if they need help.
In the back is the warehouse. There are supplies on crates everywhere. Literally everything you can think of. Toys, water and other liquids, diapers, medications, containers to carry large quantities of liquids like maybe gasoline, all organized by group and overhead signs. As we stood in the warehouse, two kids raced in what looked like miniature Big Wheels. (Remember those things? They were awesome!) Two others engaged in a fierce game of rock-paper-scissors.
After the Center, we bussed to the local airport where we are to return to Warsaw. We are supposed to go to a JDC center tonight but there is one problem. We are still at the airport. The plane has mechanical problems. There is a chance we will be bussing back to Warsaw which is not the preferred option. As we sit here in the airport, we are contemplating trying out the local Polish vodka. You’ll be happy to know that I don’t drink and blog. I mean, if you thought these blogs were long now!