In a previous report, we described the collaboration between Tzu Chi and Adam Mickiewicz University (UAM) in Poznan to provide medical Polish language courses for Ukrainian doctors.
Of the fifty students who participated in the courses, twenty-three completed the program and subsequently passed government or hospital medical Polish language tests. This allowed them to exchange their Ukrainian medical licenses for Polish ones. This enabled these healthcare professionals to use fully their expertise and earn legal salaries to provide their families with independent means of livelihood in Poland.
Even more touching, two doctors and an experienced professional, as a gesture of gratitude to Tzu Chi for its assistance to Ukrainian families, decided to serve as medical volunteers at the Tzu Chi Poznan office starting from September 2023. They will offer free medical consultations and services three days a week, six hours a day, to vulnerable Ukrainian families who have fled the war. These volunteers are family physician Armine Safaryan, pediatrician Bezbakh Ludmilla, and experienced attorney Olena Honcharova.
Dr. Armine Safaryan, with twenty years of experience, hails from Armenia. As a family physician, she had enjoyed a stable income and social standing. However, after the outbreak of the Russian Invasion on February 24, 2022, she joined the Catholic Caritas in Poznan as an assistant to Polish doctors. She worked tirelessly, provided sixteen hours of medical service daily at Ukrainian refugee reception centers, and offered urgent medical assistance to fleeing Ukrainian families. It was during this time that she met Dr. Bezbakh Ludmilla and Attorney Olena Honcharova.
"I am a doctor, and it is my duty to save and help people. If I can use my abilities to help more people, then I am fulfilling my mission as a doctor." Dr. Safaryan earnestly stated the unwavering commitment to her calling.
Olena Honcharova, an attorney, and her daughter are both accomplished lawyers. Her daughter currently practices law in London, while her son serves as a professional soldier. When the war broke out, Ukrainian government regulations required all men aged between eighteen and sixty to remain within the country to defend the nation. The war forced her son to stay in Ukraine, while Olena resolutely went to Poznan and joined the ranks of volunteers. Initially, she served as a medical volunteer at the Poznan Catholic Caritas reception center and assisted with translation to provide much-needed support and legal assistance to Ukrainian families.
Olena said: "I never thought I would become a medical volunteer one day. But, in the process of helping others, we find happiness and fulfillment. We are thankful to the Tzu Chi Foundation for providing us with a platform to help more people." The transition from an experienced attorney to a medical volunteer was a beautiful surprise, and this change has allowed her to meet more compassionate and responsible individuals. Olena smiled as she said that it has all been very worthwhile, and her life is now filled with meaning and purpose.
On September 8th, seven Ukrainian patients received their first round of free medical services provided by these volunteers. Among them was a twenty-year-old Ukrainian boy who, although entitled to free medical care in Poland, typically had to wait three to five months to see a specialist. Thanks to Tzu Chi's free medical services and with the assistance of Dr. Armine Safaryan, he gained access to an appointment with a specialist and a fast-track to medical care. The young man was extremely excited and grateful for the spirit of the Tzu Chi Foundation, which has stood side by side with Ukrainian families from the beginning of the war until now.
Lukasz commended their dedication: "These two doctors, one a family physician and the other a pediatrician, have chosen to serve as medical volunteers to express their gratitude to the Tzu Chi Foundation. They are joined by an experienced attorney and provide free medical services to Ukrainian families in need. The expression of kindness is truly moving."
Tzu Chi volunteer Shu-Erh Chang from Taiwan, Lukasz, a Pole, Dr. Armine Safaryan from Armenia, Dr. Bezbakh Ludmilla, and Attorney Olena Honcharova from Ukraine—all five individuals from different countries—found their paths intersecting due to the war. They stood together with the Tzu Chi Foundation, walked on the path of helping others, brought warmth to Ukrainian families living under the shadow of war, and dispelled the suffering of life.
In the lyrics of the Tzu Chi song Thousands Helping Hands (〈千手世界〉):
“Life is beautiful with goodness, life expands because of love.
Life is wider and deeper with compassion, life is joyful with gratitude.”
Volunteers dance through the stages of life together and make every moment count.
Join Tzu Chi. Let us express the value of our life.
Listen to the song: Thousands Helping Hands
Story by Shu-Erh Chang