Polish children in Belarus receive first Christmas presents from Poland

Pupils of Stefan Batory Polish Charter School in Grodno, Belarus, received their very first Christmas presents delivered by Poland’s local governments of Częstochowa and Opole, and distributed by Andżelika Borys’ Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB).

According to Andżelika Borys, the leader of the ZPB, which has not been recognised by Belarussian authorities ever since its illegalization in 2005, said that packages were also delivered to Mogilev in eastern Belarus, where Poles also live.

But the gifts for Polish children in Belarus will not be limited to Grodno and Mogilev as Ms Borys told Polish Radio that “Santa Clause” will also deliver packages to pupils of the Polish language in Lida, Vawkavysk in western Belarus, the town of Ashmyany and the capital of Minsk.

Apart from the Częstochowa and Opole local governments, the Association of Polish Artists in Belarus also chipped in organising a sale of their works. Moreover, the initiative was supported by Poland’s consulate in Grodno.

Ms Borys said that around 4,000 Christmas packages may be handed over to Polish children in Belarus this year.

And more Christmas presents are still to be sent from Poland to Polish children in Belarus. According to “Polska Zbrojna” monthly published by Poland’s Military Publication Institute, over 1,250 packages of food, hygiene products and Christmas cards are to be delivered to Polish families in Lithuania and Belarus by volunteers of “Eastern Poland in Need - Poles for Poles” Foundation and the Polish National Foundation (PFN).

“Thanks to this initiative we can show Poles in Belarus and Lithuania that Poland and the Poles remember them,” said Cezary Andrzej Jurkiewicz, member of the PFN board, adding that aid will not only reach Poles. “If we learn about fully Belarussian or Lithuanian family in need, we will help the family because we are obliged to listen to the Polish state’s message of the Three Seas Initiative. This means we [Poles, Belarussians and Lithuanians] are brothers. That is why we help everyone and are ready for cooperation.”

And the Poles in Lithuania and Belarus need to be remembered and helped as many of them live in large families of Polish ancestry. Elderly and lonely people, as well as war veterans living in very poor conditions, are also helped.

The gifts that are to be delivered by the PFN were collected by Polish pupils of 220 schools in Poland’s Mazovieckie province and also by scouts. Some essential items were donated by shops and private persons. Other Mazovieckie province authorities and The Polish Post also took part in the charity drive.

Groats, pasta, sugar, oil, canned foods, sweets, coffee, tea, bandages and hygiene products can be found in the packages. “Although these products are available in Lithuania and Belarus, many families cannot afford sugar, coffee or chocolate,” said the head of “Eastern Poland in Need - Poles for Poles” Foundation Artur Wolter.