Millions of Ukrainian refugees have continued to cross the Polish border in search of safety and a new life. Among them are some of Ukraine’s most vulnerable: orphans.
Straight Arrow News met with Peter Zagarsky, the headmaster at an orphanage in Kaweczynek, Poland. He’s been caring for 24 children from Lutsk, Ukraine. The orphanage’s name translates to “The Honor of Helping Children.”
“Every kid here is like my own family,” Zagarsky said. “So we are going to help them and give them some safety.”
The children crossed the border into Poland shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine. Many had only the clothes on their backs. Zargarsky said shortly after their arrival, the town worked together to provide the children with “everything they need,” including food, toys, and even volunteers to help secure medicine that’s in short supply. Many of the children are disabled, so Zagarsky said stability for the orphans has been crucial.
“You see this on their faces… this is their new home,” he said.
The orphans will stay in Poland indefinitely, only returning to Ukraine if and when the war concludes. There is currently a pause on all Ukrainian adoptions.
“Some of them don’t have [a] future because nobody will take them,” Zagarsky said. “They are too old. They have too much disability. So their only future is to go back to Ukraine.”
FROM THE OUTSIDE, THE LOOK OF JOY.
BUT TO headmaster PETER ZAGARSKY… IT’S BETTER DESCRIBED AS A SHOW OF RESILIENCE.
ZAGARSKY: “you see this on their faces… this is their new home.”
THESE 24 UKRAINIAN ORPHANS…NOW REFUGEES. QUICKLY EVACUATED ACROSS THE BORDER TO A POLISH ORPHANAGE, AFTER RUSSIA INVADED UKRAINE.
MOST WERE ONLY ABLE TO BRING WITH THEM WHAT YOU SEE HERE…SOME CLOTHING AND SHOES.
THE ORPHANAGE AND LOCAL VOLUNTEERS are working TO MEET THEIR REMAINING NEEDS…BUYING TOYS, SECURING MEDICINE…EVEN THERAPY HORSES.
ZAGARSKY RUNS THIS ORPHANAGE…WHOSE NAME TRANSLATES TO ‘THE HONOR OF HELPING CHILDREN’.
ZAGARSKY: “Every kids here is like my own family. So we are going to help them and give them some safety.”
THOUGH, SAFETY IS ONLY PART OF THE EQUATION. MOST OF THE ORPHANS HAVE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL DISABILITIES, SO STABILITY IS CRUCIAL.
THESE ORPHANS WILL STAY IN POLAND, FOR AS LONG AS THE WAR CONTINUES. MAYBE MONTHS…OR YEARS.
THERE’S A MORATORIUM ON ALL UKRAINIAN ADOPTIONS, BUT EVEN WHEN IT’S LIFTED, ZAGARSKY SAYS IT’S UNLIKELY THESE KIDS WILL FIND A NEW HOME.
ZAGARSKY: “Some of them don’t have future because nobody will take them they are too old. They have too much disability so their only future is to go back to Ukraine.”
IN THE INTERIM HE WANTS TO MAKE THEIR LIVES AS HAPPY AS POSSIBLE. TELLING ME MANY DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT’S GOING ON IN THEIR HOMELAND, AND HE HOPES TO KEEP IT THAT WAY…PRESERVING THEIR CHILDHOOD ONE DAY AT A TIME.