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Lawrence Siddall: Letter from Poland


Saturday, May 14, 2022
Letter from Poland

Following my retirement, I joined the Peace Corps and served in Poland, teaching English in a high school from 1997 to 1999. I have kept in close touch over the years and recently wrote to my good friend Anita Odachowska, asking how the war in Ukraine and the arrival of refugees has affected her life and that of her 20-year-old daughter Alexandra, who by Polish custom goes by the name of Ola.

Here is Anita’s reply.

Dear Larry,

Thank you for your e-mail. I am happy to know you are doing well. Ola and I are also fine, despite what’s going on now just abroad.

We live in troubled times. First the pandemic, now this crazy and unbelievably cruel war. After first few weeks of watching all news all the time now I try to distance myself a little bit because I realized I live in permanent stress. I focus on my job and do fitness every day to save my mental health.

Many Ukrainians came to work here in Swidnica a lot before the war. For a few years you can meet them at cash registers in shops, on constructions and in many places they work. My friends run an employment agency for Ukrainians for couple of years and help them not only find a job here in Swidnica but also to settle down.

Now there are more and more of them and you can hear Ukrainian language almost as often as Polish. A lot of citizens volunteered to give them shelter or help in any ways they can. As Ola and I don’t have a space at home to invite refugees and we both work a lot we decided to donate Polish Humanitarian Fund regularly. It’s the least we can do now.

I admire the whole Ukrainian nation. Their braveness is unspoken. I hate Putin! And those Russian soldiers? Their cruelty is beyond my mind. I get stressed just thinking about it. Also, I am aware that Poland is next in line. But Ukrainians’ attitude somehow gives me hope that this crazy war ends soon, because now all human nation’s achievements after World War II seem to go 100 years back.

We send you our best wishes,

Anita & Ola

Lawrence Siddall

Amherst