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by Michał Karski
On the World Refugee Day Diaconia Poland in cooperation with Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe has opened its first cash assistance centre for refugees from Ukraine. The centre is located in the building of the Lutheran Parish in Kalisz, Poland.
“I want to thank you very much for this assistance, because it is very difficult to find a job,” says Olena, a refugee from Ukraine. “This cash assistance will help us a lot, e.g. in the purchase of school materials or clothing. So it is a great support and thank you very much for it” she adds. Olena and her daughter fled to Poland from Kharkiv, where heavy fighting continued from the beginning of the Russian regime’s invasion of Ukraine. Now both have been covered by the Cash Assistance Program, run by the Diaconia Poland in cooperation with Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe. Program was launched on 20th of June 2022, World Refugee Day, in Kalisz.
Diaconia Poland and Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe have already collaborated many times on the other aid projects. The current Cash Assistance Program is intended for the most vulnerable refugees from Ukraine. The beneficiaries receive direct financial aid in the form of prepaid cards. Its amount depends on the number of family members. It is a particularly important help for refugees who, for various reasons, cannot work.
The program is run locally. The first registration and card issuing centre was established in Kalisz in cooperation with the local Lutheran Parish and the Municipal Social Welfare Centre. “This is a great initiative and I am glad that it is being implemented in Kalisz. I know how many refugees live in our city and this support will help them to live with dignity,” says Iwona Niedźwiedź, the director of the Municipal Social Welfare Centre in Kalisz.
The centre operates in the building of the Lutheran Parish in Kalisz, which was also involved in its organization. Rev. Michał Kühn, the parish pastor, emphasizes that the parish has been involved in helping refugees from Ukraine since the beginning of the war, hosting over twenty people. “The Cash Assistance Program of Diaconia Poland and Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe provides concrete help. It is also a showcase of our parish. I am very pleased that our small diasporal parish can provide such help,” he says.
As part of the program it is planned to provide aid for 1,500 families (approx. 3,000 people) in the centre in Kalisz. In the first two days of operation of this centre, 280 families (over 750 people) received an assistance. “Helping refugees from Ukraine is very important because they found themselves in a very difficult situation and, threatened by the war, had to leave their country. We observe that these are mainly mothers with children and the elderly who need such support, thanks to which they can decide for themselves what is most needed for them,” explains Wanda Falk, the director of Diaconia Poland. She emphasizes that the joint project of Diaconia Poland and Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe for refugees is run also in cooperation with Lutheran parishes and includes not only the Cash Assistance Program, but also long-term assistance to over fifty parishes that have taken refugees under their roof.
Diaconia Poland, immediately after the Russian regime’s invasion of Ukraine, began to provide aid to people affected by the hostilities. In cooperation with diaconal partners it organized transports of material assistance both to Ukraine and to reception centres for refugees in Poland. It also coordinated the transports of refugees from Poland to Germany.