The cultural center that I work in has 6 branches. One of those is located right beside my house. Recently it became a place for the Ukrainian refugees. Mostly mothers with children. They stay there until they’re found a more permanent home.
About a week ago I went there to help with the kids. And because I’m Russian, not everyone was happy with me being there. It was totally understandable and I wasn’t mad at all. But it still hurt to be rejected by the people who speak the same language (most Ukrainians know Russian), and have the same culture as you.
So I went back to the main office and continued my work there. Now and then helping with translations, I felt the need to do more, so I decided to try one more time.
Yesterday, I went back with a very different attitude. Less being ashamed of my nationality, more thinking about my intentions to help. And… everything was great!
Some people changed and I found that no one is actively against me. I wasn’t afraid to share where I’m from because I knew exactly how to express my opinion in the matter and be respectful.
I was playing with kids: Ukrainian, Polish. Trying to switch between four languages. And was having fun.
At the end of the day, I had a deep conversation with the Ukrainian lady. She told me about her family, about the hard road to Poland, and the heartbreaking things she saw on the way.
Today I went back there to help. Talked to more people and made a deal with a young mother to travel to Katowice with her.
I still feel like I’m not doing enough, but each day I’m going home thinking I did something helpful. And I will come back there tomorrow to do even more!