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Oct 03rd
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Home Global Activities Europe In Poland, Tzu Chi Opens Dumpling Club for Ukrainian Elderly (Part 1/2)

In Poland, Tzu Chi Opens Dumpling Club for Ukrainian Elderly (Part 1/2)

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Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the war has continued to this day. It has forced millions of Ukrainian people, especially the old and the weak, women and children, to flee their motherland and become refugees in foreign countries. They originally had a comfortable life in Ukraine with houses, cars, and jobs; but this cozy life disappeared overnight. Although they saved their lives, their future is full of anxiety and uncertainty.


Dumpling Club for the Elderly

While paying home visits to elderly Ukrainians in Poland, Tzu Chi volunteers found that they encountered difficulties in language and work there. To provide better care for them in Poland, the volunteers launched a charity sale of Ukrainian vegetarian dumplings. Not only can this allow them to get out of the house, but also gives a little support to their restless hearts.

Volunteers and elders prepared vegetarian dumplings. Twenty percent went directly to needy families, and the remaining eighty percent would be sold through a charity sale to subsidize elderly care recipients. It is similar to what Master Cheng Yen promoted in Taiwan. She called upon the wealthy to only eat until 80 percent complete; use the remaining 20 percent to help others.

September 30 was the day of the first vegetarian dumpling activity. The volunteers thoughtfully prepared aprons and caps for the elders. The dumpling fillings were ready, so the grandmas started to make dumpling wrappers. Due to different personal habits, there was no fixed recipe, but the dough looked pretty good. Grandpa Vasili kneaded the dough without hesitation. He was so calm and skillful. He might be the one who often came into the kitchen.

Only Two Passports Left

Early in 2022, 73-year-old Vasili and his 72-year-old wife Valentina were in Mariupol, a port city in southern Ukraine heavily bombed by the Russians.  Unfortunately, on March 14, their home was hit by an air strike. They hid in an adjacent basement and survived, but all they had left were their two passports.

Both were mechanical engineers and thought they could enjoy a leisurely retirement. Unexpectedly, the war broke out. Not only did they lose their residence, but they were also forced to leave their homeland. They spent twelve days traveling through several countries, and finally fled to Poland, where they lived in a refugee shelter. Later, they found accommodation through the help of a charity organization; it referred them to the Tzu Chi volunteers.

After the dough is kneaded, it needs time to rise before it can be kneaded again, and then cut, and finally rolled into dumpling wrappers. During the intervals, Grandma Valentina pointed to the map of Ukraine and told the volunteers where her home was.

The volunteers also took out their mobile phones to play "Life Wisdom" and introduced Master Cheng Yen, founder of Tzu Chi, to Grandma Nadiia and Grandma Valentina. Grandma Valentina saw a lot of suffering in the film, and she could empathize with those people who were suffering because she had lost her home because of the war.

After the dough rose, the volunteers and the elders started rolling out the dumpling wrappers. The two fillings of vegetarian dumplings - mashed potatoes and shredded cabbage - are traditional Ukrainian flavors.

Leave Shadow Behind

Some grandpas were not familiar with each other, but they never felt tired of learning from each other. After four weeks working together, they can cooperate better and better. One person is responsible for rolling the skin, and the other is responsible for making the dumplings.

Grandpa Velery used to be a soldier. He was accustomed to holding a gun, but not a rolling pin. At the beginning, he practiced turning it on the table earnestly. Now he can skillfully roll out dumpling wrappers, and his wife, Yala, is in charge of wrapping the stuffing.

Velery and his wife, Yala, risked their lives to escape from the occupied city of Lysychansk, which was under heavy attack by the Russians. On the long journey, the couple survived the shelling and bombing and squeezed into a van with twelve other people, and headed for Kramatorsk.

Later, they managed to catch the last train to Lviv, a city in western Ukraine. The very next day Kramatorsk railway station was bombed. Then they came to Poland and lived in a hotel for refugees for two months.

Velery and his wife have minor health problems. Velery suffers from melanoma, and his wife, Yala, previously had cervical cancer surgery and needs further treatment. Since the volunteers learnt about it, they have continued to accompany and care for them. This time volunteers also invited them to make vegetarian dumplings, hoping to help them escape the shadow of war.

The focused expressions of the elders revealed that they are becoming more and more relaxed in this environment. Velery said he was honored to have the opportunity to wear a volunteer vest, and hoped to seize the opportunity to contribute more in the future.


--to be continued

Article: Liu Xiu-guan, Chen Yi-lin Report from European  2022/12/05

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" Those who have great wisdom must all the more be humble and unassuming, just like the rice stalk that bows under the weight of ripe grain. "
Jing-Si Aphorism