We are happy to share with you a letter that we have received from the Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Vancouver, after the Barka Foundation Trip to Poland in July this year. The letter is written to the participants and the organizers of the trip, in recognition of their efforts in social work and volunteering. As the Consul writes:
At times, as a volunteer you may question the extent of the impact that your time and efforts have had. […] Please always remember that what you are doing is making a huge difference, and providing a voice to the recipient of your support. […] Thank you for sharing your skills and knowledge to help improve lives and build the capacity of those who have not had the same opportunity – but thank you also for knowing that the experiences you will live and the people you will encounter will teach you more that you could have imagined. Thank you for your patience, respect and perseverance, change is never easy. But most of all thank you for your kindness, care and love and for being the inspiration the world needs.
Barka Foundation in Poland, along with Barka Canada Social Integration Society, organized a trip between July 11- Aug. 2, 2018 for eleven Polish-Canadian young adults, to visit organizations in Poland which demonstrate creative methods of integrating marginalized individuals with society. The trip provided an opportunity to young Canadians of Polish origin to develop or improve their skills in social work, and to learn about social and economic changes that have occurred in Poland in recent decades.
All the trip participants had strong interest in social work, some professionally in the community, others studying in the fields of criminology, political science, or social work.
The trip was a tremendous success. We are very happy about it, since we had put much of our minds and hearts into its preparation, including selection of candidates, planning, training and integration, and fundraising for the training.
We believe that this trip with Barka will prove fruitful for years to come. Through real-life examples of effective social work, these young Polish Canadians gained not only new ideas and skills, but also inspiration and hope. We trust that the trip experiences will benefit their future social work — for the betterment of their communities.
And now we want to share with you some of the trip’s stories and impact directly in the words of the participants who have kindly written to us about their experiences. See this page for their full letters, and right below for excerpts:
Despite the many challenges that are encountered on a day to day basis while working with everyone from troubled youth, to people with disabilities, the homeless population, the average troubled narcotics user and even real convicted criminals, the Barka organization in Poland has managed to create a system that truly works. I got to experience firsthand how they actually help people on an individualized basis. They find people jobs, they facilitate real meaningful housing opportunities, they provide counselling using their unique system and above all else, they establish meaningful communities that run under a self-sufficient self-funding model. I have seen the success they impact each and every day as they bring the homeless into homes, provide meaning to the depressed, show the hungry how to farm and train the un-trainable so they can support themselves and eventually become employed to even support their families. From what I can tell, such a program would be a great asset within Canada.
Thank you for inviting me on this trip, it has been so amazing coming to Poland and working with such on awesome organization, This trip has got me wanting to know and learn about my culture and also volunteer more when I get home. I hope to come back when I study here and volunteer with Barka.
Our three weeks involved a myriad of experiences. Our group visited the cities of Warsaw, Dębicy, Łopusznej, Poznan, Chudobczycach, Pniewy, Gębice and others to view local organizations started or supported by Barka. […] The residents in Chudobczycach welcomed us working alongside them, digging our hands in the dirt on their farm, cooking meals, shovelling grains, fixing farm equipment, etc. Members of parliament and local politicians met with us to discuss their strategies to encourage employment and improve the social welfare of all citizens. We visited several social integration centres that taught individuals fundamental skills for employment and supported work experience with children, construction, cleaning, landscaping, etc.
This experience was a dream come true for me. My heart expanded witnessing so many acts of love and dedication to alleviate human suffering in the world. I am now asking myself what other actions I can take to contribute more to individuals and the communities around me. John Lewis (and others) have asked “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” One person can make an incredible difference in thousands of lives, as Barbara and Tomek [Sadowski] have proven through Barka.
I was honoured to be chosen and hope to have more learning experiences and opportunities to contribute with Barka in the future. I encourage everyone to get involved in some way, whether it be through giving time, financial support, or other resources so that Barka Canada can grow and expand and have even more of an impact on our local communities.
Thank you for inviting me to Poland and letting me see all the beautiful areas. I enjoyed working on the farm and all the workers were great people. I love this country and I hope to see all of you again.
… what Barka allowed us to glimpse at was life without superfluousness: just people. People of all sorts. People who have suffered, people left behind, people who were offered a second chance, people who were remedied, hopeful people, new people, reborn people. And to be given the chance to witness such people was nothing short of a blessing.
Było to bardzo ciekawe i pouczające doświadczenie, zobaczyłam jaką moc może mieć okazana komuś dobroć. Poznałam ludzi, którzy potknęli się na zawirowanych ścieżkach życia, ale dzięki pomocnej dłoni podanej przez rodzinę Sadowskich, szybko podniesli się na nogi. Jestem zachwycona w jaki sposób fundacja pomaga poszkodowanym przez los, mieliśmy okazję pracować wspólnie z nimi na gospodarstwie w Chudobczycach. Pracowałam również w żlobku „SuperSprawni” i w restauracji Wspólny Stól. Taka forma pomocy która wywodzi się z filozofii wspaniałego myśliciela i człowieka jakim był ks. Tischer pozwala zachować ludziom osobistą godność, ponieważ pracując czują się potrzebni i docenieni przez otoczenie.
Ten wyjazd nie był dla mnie tylko okazją odwiedzić Polskę, i na nowo połączyć się z moimi polskimi korzeniami. Przez te trzy tygodnie, miałem też okazję ujrzeć świat z perspektywy oczu, które na wszystkich przez siebie napotkanych patrzą jak na rodzinę. Miałem okazję zobaczyć jak wygląda praca tych, którzy nie diskriminują, nie zapominają o innych, i oddają wszystko aby dopomóc tym którzy ich pomoc potrzebują. […]
Ważne jest teraz, abyśmy nie puszczali w niepamięć wiedzy, która była nam powierzona przez Barkę. Ważne jest, aby nasza “Złota Jedenastka” pracowała nad kontynuowaniem pracy państwa Sadowskich. Na Nowym Kontynencie nie brak nam ludzi, którzy potrzebują naszej pomocy, a więc czas rozpowszechniać ideologię Barki wśród Kanadyjczyków!
This trip – its experiences, education, and insights – have been possible thanks to funding provided by the Senate of the Republic of Poland. Barka Canada, Barka Foundation in Poland, and the trip participants are grateful to the Polish Senate for the recognition of the need for such a trip, and for providing such an opportunity. In addition, many private people donated to Barka Canada to help us fund the training workshop and the integration meeting before the trip – we all appreciate their generosity.
Recently the participants of the workshop at Loon Lake Camp attended an event with members of Barka Canada and the Polish-Canadian community which gave everyone a chance to get to know one another. Delegates from Barka Foundation and affiliate organizations in Europe talked about their work. Barka Canada representatives summed up the workshop and the hopes for attendees’ upcoming trip to Poland.
Twenty people, including several candidates for the study visit to Poland, attended a two-day Leadership Workshop at Loon Lake Camp in Maple Ridge, BC. A formal activity program included:
an introduction to Barka Canada and its work
a presentation on migration stress by Dr. Maria Daszkiewicz (a psychiatrist)
There was plenty of opportunity for recreational activities including hiking, canoeing, and singing by the campfire. There was also time for the participants to chat, get to know each other, and exchange ideas.
A short movie made by one of our workshop participants:
Barka Canada took part in the Polish Culture Day organized by Polonez Tri-City Polish Association in Port Coquitlam on May 27, 2018. We took this opportunity to introduce Barka to more members of the Polish-Canadian community and to inform people about our work. We also did some fundraising at the event, selling hand-made birthday calendars and prints beautifully created by one of our members, Wiesia. This was our first public fundraising effort. We received positive responses to our display.