Some of you have asked about how we’re doing in Poland with the conflict raging in next door Ukraine. Here is a quick idea of what it’s like over here for those who have questions:
-Poland is very supportive of the Ukrainians. You see it everywhere in signs, in the media, and even on the receipts in shops. They are very wonderful at helping the Ukrainians as they haven’t forgotten about being bullied and occupied by Russia themselves. Russia is a common threat to both countries. Ukrainians have allies in Poland, for now.
-Ukrainians have been flooding across the border and as far as I know, are currently being received and sheltered.
-My main concern is that people of Indian and African backgrounds (let me be clear: people with brown skin) are being treated poorly by Ukrainian border officials, and from what I can tell, Polish border officials as well. The news stories vary, but it seems consistent that brown people are being treated as second class citizens. I have not been able to connect with anyone at embassies to offer a place to stay. I imagine they are busy but I will keep trying.
-I’ve been told many donations are being delivered to the border and dumped there because there is no real systematic organization to distribute things. This is anecdotal based on the stories of some who are delivering goods to the border.
-Our neighbors have been hosting a Ukrainian family (a woman and two girls whose father is being held back in Ukraine). They are mostly missing their usual activities, like swimming, piano lessons, and all of their other usual activities. We have a music room at our house that we are allowing them to use, and I will take them wherever they want to go this week (since I am funemployed currently and working on a new novel which can miss a few days of work.)
-Things in Poland are operating somewhat normally. I went to get USD in case we need to depart quickly, but the banks all have lines and anxious customers. This feels reminiscent of the stories I heard about Poland from the 80s, and these older people waiting have those same anxieties. Monday morning I will go bank to bank and wait in lines until I can find USD.
-We are not panicked but remaining cautious. I am still going to see a movie this week.
-I personally am shocked that the West is sitting back and waiting to see what happens. I get the urgent need to de-escalate, but they would be good go remember this game is not played on their terms and that they are merely reacting to things that are too late to undo. Buildings can be rebuilt (Warsaw is an excellent example of sticking it to the Nazis and rebuilding one’s identity) but lives cannot. Lives lost as the West decides what to do are lives that will forever change the landscape of Ukraine more than any lost building.
Putin will do what he wants, as usual, and the West seems to be finding further concessions for that. Therefore, Putin has no real reason to stop right now. And that is why we have to remain on alert over here.
If you want to help, please consider refugees of African nations as well as Indians who are overwhelmingly being treated like shit. Racism doesn’t simmer in times of great conflict like this. It tends to boil over.
EDIT: We are currently hosting a mom and two teenage sons, and a student from Nigeria who was studying abroad.