Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon those who fear him,
upon those who count on his mercy,
to deliver their soul from death,
and to keep them alive through famine.
I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God
who is sending a love letter to the world.
Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary.
What we need is to love without getting tired.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
THE CHOICE THE WHOLE FAMILY CAN LIVE WITH
They were orphaned, lost, and alone.
Yet a generation of World War II Polish child refugees
found a new life and happiness in distant New Zealand.
Three septuagenarians smiled and told me of the tragedy they had lived through as children. All three were born in eastern Poland, and were arrested and deported, along with hundreds of thousands of other Poles, after the Soviet invasion in 1939. Soviet soldiers and police packed their families into boxcars and exiled them to Siberia or central Asia, where many died of illness or starvation. Only in 1942, after Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union, were survivors released. But some of their children were already orphans, having lost their parents to hunger or disease. An international appeal went out.
A number of countries offered shelter. Thanks to the efforts of Countess Maria Wodzicka, the wife of the Polish Consul in Wellington, and the New Zealand Prime Minister and his wife, New Zealand invited 800 Poles for the duration of the war. Because of the political situation in Poland after 1945, they were accepted for permanent settlement in New Zealand.
The refugee orphans made a harrowing journey from Poland through Russia and Iran, to reach New Zealand on October 31, 1944. Of this group, 734 were orphaned children. The remainder were their caregivers.
Mrs. Krystyna Skwarko was a schoolteacher in Poland. First her husband, and then she and their two children were arrested and deported to Siberia when the Russians overran Poland. Later, Mrs. Skwarko helped to care for the children on the voyage in an American troopship. She was one of the people who nurtured the refugees and guided their education at the Polish Children’s Camp at Pahiatua. After her death, Mrs. Skwarko was buried in Canberra, next to her husband.
Like all the other Polish refugee children, I was very excited.
Prime Minister Peter Fraser, who had invited us to New Zealand,
came aboard the ship.
There were speeches and we were given sweets by kind ladies,
and then we were taken in the train to our camp at Pahīatua.
Hundreds of New Zealanders met them at the port. More people lined the roads and waved as the train carried the orphans through the countryside to a refugee camp created for them in Pahiatua.
In Pahīatua we got into a routine where we knew
we were going to get three square meals a day
and anything we wanted.
Then we then started really recuperating.
In my opinion the most interesting chapters are the final ones, where we learn that the social work in the Polish community was gradually taken over by the capable young hands of the former children of the Pahiatua Camp. Many of them achieved high educational qualifications and are now holding responsible positions. But whether they’re in professions, working as tradesmen, office workers or mothers dedicated to the task of bringing up the new generation, all of them are contributing to the development of New Zealand’s economy and culture.
Chairman of the Polish Historical Society in Australia
Watch the children. They tell you their story in this 18 minute film. “New Zealand National Film Unit presents Story of 700 Polish Children,” (1966). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NO3FC2NB0o
NOTES FROM THE SIDEWALK
JEN M. 7-9
A very quiet and cold morning on the sidewalk gave my “shift buddy” Vince, and I the opportunity to pray and reflect on Scripture. So grateful to him for being there and for his spiritual leadership!
We were blessed to see Bill when he stopped to pray, and left the vigil in good hands when Sue and Ken came to take over. I’m sorry that I forgot to take any pictures.
I’d also like to thank all who encouraged me to try kneeling in prayer…we did so as we meditated on the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary. It’s amazing how powerful the experience becomes when body and mind are united. Being down on the sidewalk added a sense of urgency, a stronger awareness of how desperately the horror that happens inside that building needs to stop.
May God have mercy on us all, and may He use us to end abortion NOW.
SUE Mc 9-11
For the second year in a row I’ve been honored to have one of my 40 Days shifts fall on my birthday. What better way to spend a birthday than praying for LIFE?! Yesterday morning on my shift I met a lovely sister, a member of the Sisters of the Holy Spirit, who said her own birthday had been a few days before and that was one of the reasons she was there praying. She inspired me to make this become my own new tradition.
With all the Pittsburgh sports teams on bye this week, it was a very quiet morning on the sidewalk. Ken, my shift buddy, was with me and we prayed a lot. With his deep faith and devotion, he has been such an inspiring shift buddy to me during this campaign. He pointed out that the markings that the bar next door to PP has on their door for Halloween look like something satanic. I agreed, but whether their intent is just seasonal or something deeper, we both agreed that they have no power over any of us.
The lovely “R” family showed up for a bit to pray. “R” stands for Real and Refreshing, and indeed, they are!
The passersby this morning were mostly quiet, but as I was leaving, to be succeeded by Roseann & Rich, a woman walked by and said “I am a [insert certain Christian denomination], and you are all #*%! insane!” We held our tongues, and we prayed for the woman after she passed, that her heart would be softened and that she would realize and accept her own church’s true teachings and the beauty of human life.
ROSEANN AND RICH 11-1
Today was the day to get out those winter coats, hats and gloves and if you did not, you would soon regret it.
It was nice to have Pat (a faithful participant at 40 days), Victoria and Nora from CMU Newman Club to witness and pray with us.
We had a young man, Jim, who lives in the neighborhood stop by and offer some prayers to end abortion. He stops by occasionally but today was the first time we had the pleasure of meeting him.
A young woman, obviously disturbed we were there, kicked our flowers and little stuffed animal because she said they were not to be over the yellow line.
Another woman professed her Christianity and then had a few choice words for us and told us we were crazy.
There is always someone who does not like our message. Hopefully someday it will not be so.
Jesus and Mary, I love you. Save souls.
And God saw that it was good.