Sunday at the Train Station


Sunday at the Train Station

Warsaw Train Station

On April 10, Ambassador Steve Mull received a message from his Polish friend, Aleksander Galos, who is a prominent attorney in Warsaw about “Sunday at the Train Station”.  “Olek” as he’s known to his friends wanted to pass along the dramatic impact Americans are having in providing assistance to Ukrainian refugees in need on the ground in Poland.

Today, with my [son] Peter, we worked for six hours as volunteers in a tent at the Central Train Station in Warsaw.  We served food, cleaned tables, took out the trash, etc.  There were several dozen volunteers in our group.  The majority were from abroad – Germany, France, Spain, and a lot from the USA.  The working language was English.  Our boss was a Black guy from Brooklyn.  I met two retired guys from the USA in their 70s who came to Poland just to do this – you can see one of them on a film, Steven from Virginia.  On the film, only one volunteer is from Poland.  In total, the most on our shift were Americans.

 We served a portion of food every 15-20 seconds.  Over six hours, we served about 1000 people.  We served more than 400 kilograms of food and water.  Our customers were mostly women, average age about 40, young people, children, and older people.  And that’s how it is here 24/7. 

Olek with other volunteers including Steven from Virginia.       Photo courtesy: Aleksander Galos
Olek with other volunteers including Steven from Virginia.
Photo courtesy: Aleksander Galos

These people are here for a few hours, and then they go to a transit camp, where they wait several days for transport to other places in Poland or Europe, or farther.  They are lost, sad, without energy or a future.  They are exhausted.  There’s no time to talk with them, but you can see everything on their faces.  I don’t know what they will do here going forward; who will take care of them?  They are masses of people.

Every volunteer’s pair of hands is needed 24/7.  It’s easy to register with the Boy Scouts in the main hall of the train station. A shift lasts for six hours, and they start at 6:00 a.m., noon, 6:00 p.m. and so on around the clock.  It’s OK to come for shorter time, but coming for less than three hours doesn’t make sense because getting into the work routine takes a little time.  You need to be there a half hour before shift change.  Come and send friends and bring your children.  In this work, qualifications and experience don’t matter, because everyone is equal, and nobody asks anyone about anything.  The groups immediately form close ties.