RETURN HOME AS THE ALIVE
Anna Cichobłaźińska talks with Danuta Iwankowicz from Tarnopol In Ukraine, related to ‘Niedziela’ for many years
ANNA CICHOBŁAZIŃSKA: – You arrived from Western Ukraine. Has the war appeared also there?
DANUTA IWANKOWICZ: – They do not shoot directly or kill. The atmosphere is peaceful if it can be called peace, because we feel war consequences. Two enormous lorries with aid for soldiers in the east leave Tarnopol twice a week; they are full of preserves, homemade pastries, warm clothes and duvets…. Children from schools and kindergartens attach their drawings with wishes to the packages for soldiers. They finish them with touching words: ‘Return home as the alive. We are waiting for you’. In the letters children draw Ukrainian flags and red fruits of viburnum – symbols of Ukraine. We have information that soldiers are glad about the letters. They do not feel alone. After all, many of them have left their little kids at home.
– Who is this aid prepared by?
– Packages are prepared by volunteers. These are inhabitants of Tarnopol. In the city there are four centres to which things for soldiers are brought. In the beginning of the war our soldiers from the general recruitment did not practically have any military equipment. Families bought bullet-proof vests, boots, helmets, the whole soldier’s layette. Mothers who did not have any money to buy military equipment for their sons, exceeded the border with Poland and bought them for their sons and their neighbours’ sons here. Because it was allowed to transport only one bullet-proof vest across the border, mothers put on another one and crossed the border wearing another vest.
Children join in helping soldiers, resigning from their favourite toys or electronic gadgets. One of my neighbours – an 11-year-old boy, who was saving money for a tablet for months, after mobilization had been announced, he devoted the collected amount of money for military needs. This gesture of the boy became popular in a district. A few owners of companies, who were moved by it, voluntarily promised to buy the boy his dreamt tablet.
– Every war brings death. Did this death reach to Tarnopol?
– Yes. What is the most painful is the fact that young educated people decide to be volunteers. Students of a medical academy, polytechnics, economy academy apply for academic holiday and go on the frontier. This flower of the Ukrainian nation often return their homes in coffins. We have already had such four funerals. A 19-year-old student from Zbaraż, the only son in a family, was first on Majdan of Independence, and when the war broke out, he went to the east. And he was killed. Being asked whether they are not afraid of going to fight, young boys answer that they are, but they are more afraid of freedom loss. Such events – mothers transporting hidden bullet-proof vests for their sons across the border, children drawing symbols of Ukraine and giving their most valuable toys, bodies of young people transported in coffins – illustrate the whole situation in our country.
– What is the atmosphere like among inhabitants of Tarnopol?
– We will never give in. at 9 pm every day we spiritually connect together in a prayer for peace. This is the initiative of the Greek-Catholic Orthodox Church. Truth, faith and good will win. We are not alone in this fight. I would like to cordially thank to every Pole on my and all Ukrainians’ behalf for the prayer, support, which are expressed in various dimensions. We feel it and we are stronger thanks to it. Let’s be together. If God is with us, who is against us?