The Tzu Chi Lublin volunteer team continues to support and uplift the lives of Ukrainian refugees and the local community in Poland. On April 13, they visited The Little Prince Hospice, bringing heartwarming acts of kindness to severely ill children and their families. On April 16, during a distribution day, concerned Ukrainian elders and families took action to show their support for Taiwan in the aftermath of the April 3 earthquake.

Cheering for the Brave in Their Fight Against Illness

On April 13, the Tzu Chi Lublin volunteer team visited another long-term care facility, "The Little Prince Hospice."

Bringing their severely ill children, mothers braved life-threatening risks, leaving behind their established lives and trusted doctors to come to Poland. They had no choice, as staying in war-torn Ukraine would have been even more dangerous.

"They smile as they search for joy in life and continue to fight their illnesses, even though these diseases will inevitably claim their children's lives. There is no hope for recovery here, only the desire to give their children a dignified life and prolong it as much as possible," said Anastasiia, feeling both heartache for the mothers and children as well as deep admiration for their strength.

Little Daniil and his mother were delighted to receive diapers, which were of great help to them. With continuous assistance and support from Tzu Chi, his mother managed to save enough money to purchase a much-needed motor for his wheelchair. | Photo courtesy of Serhii Yerzov | Lublin, Poland | 2024/04/13

Daniil from Bakhmut, Ukraine, suffers from Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Today, Daniil and his mother received diapers, a necessity that consumes a significant portion of their monthly budget. He eagerly came down to the first floor early to greet the volunteers. He told them that thanks to the continuous support and assistance from Tzu Chi, his mother had saved enough money to buy a much-needed motor for his wheelchair.

There is joy and there is sorrow. Daniil's condition is worsening; more of his muscles have weakened and stopped functioning, and his frail arms can no longer turn the wheels of his chair. Once an active and intelligent boy, he has become a "prisoner on wheels," unable to move freely. However, he still demonstrated the tricks and flips he could now perform with the motorized wheelchair, expressing his gratitude to the volunteers and the Foundation. Watching Daniil skillfully control the motor, the volunteers saw not just a desperate traveler but a remarkable acrobat.

Zoryana is another young girl the volunteers often think of. Her charming and vibrant smile brings beauty and brightness to the world. With her skilled hands, she creates miracles; as a professional nail artist, Zoryana is currently studying law courses online at a branch of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Despite her deteriorating condition, she is working hard to add a motor to her wheelchair as well.

Sitting for long periods is painful and challenging for Daniil, Zoryana, and other sick children. Yet, they still greet the volunteers with radiant smiles, eagerly sharing the joy of overcoming difficulties and turning challenges into successes. "We are proud of them," the volunteers said, always keeping these brave beneficiaries in their thoughts.

Concern for the Earthquake and Support in Action

"The world is impermanent, and the land is fragile." When news of the major earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan, on April 3 reached Lublin, the local volunteers received countless calls and inquiries, with many asking about the well-being of Master Cheng Yen and the Jing Si Abode masters. Words of support poured in. On April 16th, during the distribution day, elderly people and families deeply concerned about the earthquake showed their support for Taiwan through their actions.

Beneficiaries of Tzu Chi, along with their families, showed concern for the earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan, and generously extended their support to those affected. | Photo courtesy of Serhii Yerzov | Lublin, Poland | 2024/04/16

"Thank you all for your proactive actions, further encouraging everyone here to support Tzu Chi and the people of Taiwan," said one long-time beneficiary, who was deeply moved by the enthusiastic donations and took the stage to express gratitude. This collective love from Poland, Ukraine, and Taiwan raised a total of 1,500 euros (approx. 1,630 USD). Despite their difficult lives, they hoped to not fall behind in the act of "great love and common goodness." Seeing this unity and mutual love in challenging times, the volunteers said, "We will continue to spread care and support to those in need."

Regrettably, volunteers learned that starting from the end of June 2024, the Polish government will stop housing subsidies for people with disabilities and elderly pensioners. Volunteers are worried, saying, "We are deeply concerned about the fate of the beneficiaries, as they represent the most vulnerable and poorest groups in society. If the program ends, they will not be able to afford living expenses in Poland and will be forced to return to Ukraine, where ongoing conflicts and power shortages pose life-threatening dangers. This is a severe situation requiring urgent attention and action."

"Since we started assisting the elderly, six out of 250 recipients have passed away." Volunteers felt profound sorrow for those who spent their lives in their homeland of Ukraine but faced hardships abroad and ultimately returned as ashes. One example is Hanna Kolotova, an elderly woman who made cotton candy to give back to volunteers during the distribution in December 2023. When she lost her husband, she was faced with the challenges and high costs of trying to bury her husband in Ukraine.

Tzu Chi volunteers in Lublin express their heartfelt gratitude to Master Cheng Yen and all Tzu Chi members worldwide. They pledge to uphold Master Cheng Yen's teachings, spreading great love and accompanying those in suffering until they regain happiness. | Photo courtesy of Serhii Yerzov | Lublin, Poland | 2024/04/16

"Your generosity, wisdom, and kindness bring goodness to this world, providing love and support to those in need. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts." Tzu Chi volunteers in Lublin expressed their sincere gratitude to Master Cheng Yen and Tzu Chi volunteers worldwide. They will uphold Master Cheng Yen's teachings, spreading great love and accompanying those in suffering until they regain happiness.

STORY BY Anastasiia Kulyk, Hsiu-lien Zhu, Shu-wei Chen | Europe