We volunteers spend a lot of time working in the foundation or the office as we call it. Usually you can find a good-humored and somewhat relaxed atmosphere, but there are also some very busy days with a lot of tasks for everyone and many visitors. Overall there is a good relationship between the employees and between these and the volunteers. This results in a less formal and a more pleasant atmosphere than what you would usually expect to find in an office.
Our tasks might vary according to our language skills, and to what is needed at the moment, some examples can be:
-- Working in our long-term project, the Audioguide;
-- Translating some texts about episodes like the Warsaw Uprising, and the Second World War;
-- Checking the English of some texts that will be used in exhibitions and/or publications;
-- Writing letters for partner institutes or Foundation's connections;
-- Preparing some of our activities that will be held outside the Foundation (the EVS information day and the Christmas Party are some examples);
-- Contacting partner organizations that can help us with the huge Foundation's project Straty, to search for lists of the Polish victims of the Second World War;
-- Typing, copying and scanning data needed for the Foundation's great database;
-- Helping in the processing of some information that is brought to us (or asked) by some survivors that are closely related with the foundation;
-- In many of these tasks it is also implied promoting the foundation, whether in the preparation of activities aimed at the general public, or in the development of publications.
The Archive is a storage, belonging to the Foundation where it keeps all of its records of testimony from victims of the Nazi repression. There are thousands of files there and if all of the folders containing these files where to be put together in a single row they would be around 6 km long. Quite a lot of files!
Hence, that when we are putting files back into folders that have been used for a project or research it is of great importance that each file, which has its own number, is put in a right place. Imagine searching for a file that has been put in a totally wrong folder... It is almost impossible to find.
Your Polish has to be pretty good in order to read the Polish written in these testimonies, not to mention that people's handwriting from that era is more delicate. But you don't need to be able to read anything to be interested. In an occasional file you can find an 'Arbeitsbuch' or a piece of cloth displaying the Star of David or a red triangle with the letter P, both used to display a prisoner's status within the concentration camps.
It is also worthy to mention that the working-spirit in the Archive is very good, relaxed and people there are more than willing to help you and make themselves very understandable even though your Polish is worse than terrible to begin with.
A. Dom Korotynskiego described by Jona
The so called "Dom Korotynskiego" is an olders' people house with about 100 inhabitants in the Ochota district. Depending from schedule you have to go there once or twice a week to assist the two full-time employees who are responsible for entertainment and occupation of the inhabitants. The daily routine mostly consists of helping carrying out games or activities for the older people and visiting older people individually in their room or spend time with them. For example, I often go to see Pan Tadeusz who is partially paralyzed and has difficulties with moving around. He is very much into sport though, and usually we talk most of them time about sports, mainly football. It is a great coincidence that my only basic polish skills allow me to conceal that I actually have no idea about football.
Often I also support the two women working in the house doing handicraft work (eg. for seasonal decoration like Christmas) with the inhabitants or preparing and playing mind games or just meet up with some people for a tea party.
Since we as volunteers get free soup for lunch (or an additional dish for a small fee) I already had the possibility to try out a lot of polish traditional soups.
After all, I can say that it is a very diverse work and a lot of fun, because although the type of task stays the same, it's often something new as well, be it a new resident to visit or a special event (like Andrzejki, a special polish tradition on Andrzej's names day) which needs to be prepared or carried out.
B. Dom Kobatanta Dickensa
Usually one time a week we volunteers visit a old people's home. In this Dom Kombatanta live Nazi victims. Unfortunately the staffs of the seniors home are very busy and the employees have to use the biggest part of their time for the medical care. We are free from these duties and can keep the old people company. We talk with them and exercise so our polish J Old people are very happy, if young learn their really difficult mother tongue. They help much and be so patient. Some of them speak also foreign languages like German, English, Russian or French. For sure everybody of these nice ladies and gentlemen has a interesting own story of life. Sometimes they really like to share their experience and talk about their young days, the difficult time during World War II or about their family. Not all of them like to talk, but there other ways of companionship. Watching TV and enjoy the polish soap operas with lector, playing games, painting, listening to sounds of piano... One of the nicest thing is to spend time in the sun in the garden and enjoy the nature together with residents.
Of course the work there is not easy, you are confronted with cruel fates, strange moods and much illnesses. And not all old people are unique, you have seniors as fit as a fiddle, very cute "grandmas and grandpas" and also more eccentric people. We all found our people we really like to visit and do this week by week. It is nice to see, how much they like. Even some volunteers broke a heart of some old ladies and all of us let there impression at the old people left. A relationship like this between the generations is very rarely and indescribable valuable.
Visiting people at their homes
Conferences, journeys, seminars
Fundacja "Polsko-Niemieckie Pojednanie"
ul. Krucza 36, 00-921 Warszawa
email: email@example.com Telefon: (22) 629 73 35, 695 99 61
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