When I signed up for WCK, I hadn’t given much thought as to the impact of my effort, but with time, the potential effects now loom larger.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve shared my decision to spend a week volunteering at the WCK in Poland with just about anyone I’ve come in contact with. Remember, I still live a relatively isolated life on the farm, but through my interactions with co-mentors at VMSA and a few other friends and family, I’ve probably shared the news with a dozen people or so. Almost without exception, the reactions have been enthusiastically positive and supportive – to the point where I wonder if I had underestimated the importance of my commitment. After all, I’m going to be there peeling potatoes, assembling sandwiches and distributing meals, not negotiating peace talks.
At the same time, these conversations with friends and colleagues often turned to me and their interest in how I was preparing for the experience. I’ve seen pictures and read accounts of some of the volunteers at WCK. Their stories share the abject despair of women, children, elderly and infirmed, forced to flee their homes and sometimes their families. Often without much money, travel documents, adequate clothing, or a destination to go to, people arrive at the train station and the former Tesco store, now a refugee center, without a plan. Numerous NGO groups including WCK are there to help beginning with the basics – nutritious meals, safe shelter, clothing, diapers, medicine and sim cards. Often those same narratives by the WCK volunteers go on to describe moving reactions by those receiving a bowl of borscht, a hand up from a bench or help using Google Translate.
I reflect on how privileged my life has been – exceptionally good health, safety wherever I’ve lived or traveled, and never really wanting for anything I couldn’t have. With that as a backdrop, I look forward to this trip. I don’t know what impact my involvement will have in the overall scheme of this terrible tragedy. But I do know without volunteers, WCK wouldn’t succeed. So, I’ll do whatever is asked of me. And I’ll do so gladly with a smile and a helping hand, because that’s the least I can do.