Living Near the EdgeMarch 24, 2022
How Bad Is It?
The first question I get when speaking with friends back home, “What’s it like so close to a war?” With Krakow only 140 miles (225km) from the border, I understand the question and their implied concern. Generally most things feel about the same as they have for the last several years. In the shops and main square in Krakow (picture above, taken March 24, 2021) life goes on pretty much as it always has.
What About the Refugees?
If you venture about a mile from the main square, to the train station you will find hundreds to thousands of Ukrainians just waiting. There are mattresses and overflowing bags filled with personal possessions wherever you walk on the lower levels. Encouragingly, there are also a lot volunteers providing water, food, supplies, and just about anything anyone would need under the circumstances. The overhead speaker reminds everyone that all Polish trains are free to use if you have a Ukrainian passport.
The situation appears far from dire and generally spirits are neutral to high. People watching videos on their phones, watching TV, reading books. One evening I even saw Minnie Mouse keeping the children entertained and handing out candy. Everyone seems to be making the best of the situation. A nice article from Reuters for more information on the situation at the train station, “In Krakow rail station, Ukraine war refugees find care amid chaos”
Poles Stepping Up
It has been well reported how Poland has risen to the challenge to help anyone fleeing the invasion. What I see locally is the kindness and generosity Poles are showing. It is difficult to see a Mother and her young children displaced, not able to speak the local language, not sure what to do; but there is a lot hope in seeing random Poles just offering to do whatever they can to help.
If you want to help directly, please consider donating through caritas.
Not Everyone Is In Need
I don’t want to give the impression that everyone from Ukraine is in need. Some of course have the means necessary to stay in hotels and eat at wherever they want. Walking around we hear many Ukrainians speaking almost as if they were on vacation.
Poles are worried but steadfast in believing that even if the war extends to Poland, they will be ready for it! Personally I had more anxiety at the start of the conflict. I still have my worries but generally I feel the encouragement of the world for Ukraine, and take some comfort in knowing that the world cares what is happening.