Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Oct 02nd
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Global Activities Europe An Atmosphere of Love for Mothers and Children from Ukraine

An Atmosphere of Love for Mothers and Children from Ukraine

E-mail Print PDF

For people faced with misfortune, loss and grief, it is important to know that there are open doors for them, inside which they can find life, love, support, development, and a better future. In the summer of 2022, such a door opened for Ukrainian refugees when the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation and Polish Women Can Foundation joined forces and created the “Safe Haven” program to help people who had escaped from the war in Ukraine.


Before the war, both organizations were already assisting those who were suffering. Polish Women Can Foundation was established in 2000 with the mission of giving young people a good childhood. The organization puts a special focus on improving the life of children growing up in foster families, as well as ensuring that children with special needs receive the attention they require, whether through physical therapy, rehabilitation, or educational support.

“After the start of the war in February, 2022, probably 95% of NGOs in Poland changed the direction of their activities. The number of refugees was so high that we needed to focus on taking care of the people who were escaping to Poland at that time.” Joanna Kuzebska, Foundation Manager at Polish Women Can Foundation, smiled as she continued, “It was at that moment that we got in touch with Tzu Chi.”

Tzu Chi, whose full name is the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, was founded in 1966 in Taiwan by a Buddhist nun named Dharma Master Cheng Yen, with missions of charity, medicine, education, and humanistic culture. It has assisted people in 128 countries around the world, and the number of countries continues to grow.

United by common values of compassion, benevolence, and love for one’s neighbor, the two organizations partnered for a joint project – the Safe Harbor.

Johan Alwall, project specialist at Tzu Chi Foundation, said: “I think what unites us is our strong wish to help people in suffering, and to do it with gratitude, respect, and love. Something that has really impressed us is how Polish Women Can continuously adjusts the assistance they provide based on the changing needs and feedback of the beneficiaries. Their goal is to provide any assistance that is within their power to anyone who comes to Safe Haven. This is the same spirit that we have in Tzu Chi.”Joanna Kuzebska explained: “Safe Haven includes Polish language courses, consultations with a psychologist, consultations with a lawyer, and healthy nutrition courses. Since most men are not allowed to leave Ukraine, 95% of refugees are women and children. Therefore, we also offer a birth school for pregnant women as well as various activities for children and mothers. We also have therapy groups for teens and adults, and we have started a teenage volunteer program. But just as importantly, Safe Haven is a safe space where Ukrainian refugees can come to meet each other, have a cup of coffee, and chat.”

Mosze Nader does not just teach the Polish language; he immerses people in the atmosphere of Poland and its culture and helps people

adapt to a new environment. “It’s not just language lessons. Communication is about being understood, so I’m trying to teach my students to communicate with the people on the street, at the school, in the hospital, and help them overcome the main challenge, to accommodate to a new environment.”

Alla Tkachuk is head of a youth volunteer program at Safe Haven. “The youth volunteering program was created for older children, aged nine to twelve, to help younger children with homework and conduct various educational and entertaining activities. Both groups of children are refugees from Ukraine. Today we prepared a concert at which we will sing carols, read poems, play musical instruments, and we also made a nativity scene with the children.”

Valentina, who came to Poland after the start of the war in Ukraine, has benefited from many of the services offered at Save Haven. “I am very grateful to the Safe Haven team for the opportunity to participate in Polish language classes and get consultations with a psychologist. I would like to particularly emphasize the friendly and positive atmosphere and the professionalism of the friendly Safe Haven team. Discussing issues related to bringing up our children without violence, and our own emotions and feelings with the support of psychologists in the ‘Girlfriends’ group has helped me find ways to solve my everyday problems. At the same time, my children eagerly participate in interesting, creative activities conducted by the teachers of the day-room. This is invaluable help for us Ukrainians who have been forced to migrate.”

Alina and her son have also participated in many different activities offered by the Safe Haven: “After some time in Poland, I saw an advertisement and decided to enroll my son in drawing classes. I was also invited to a lesson. I really enjoyed the classes because it was a new technique that we used to create beautiful images.”Alina continued: “Later, I found out about the possibility of visiting a psychologist. For me, it was the first time. I am infinitely grateful to Ms. Oksana Voznyuk for the opportunity to share my emotions, experiences and fears. It was very difficult to leave our happy life in Ukraine and stand on the border with a small child for 10 hours in the freezing cold, not knowing whether I would have enough money to feed my son and whether we will be able to adapt to our new realities. With the support from Ms. Oksana, I am learning to work with my problems and feelings. I am learning to enjoy life and build a happy future for myself and my son.”

What women and children who have escaped Ukraine need the most are care, support, development, and motivation, and these are the things Safe Haven sincerely offers.


About the author: Marika Gvagvaliia is a Ukrainian refugee, Tzu Chi volunteer, and resident of the Camillian shelter in Lomianki, Poland.

【News】Tzu Chi in The World

" To be humble is to shrink our ego until we are small enough to enter other people's eyes and reside in their hearts and minds. "
Jing-Si Aphorism