At last!!! September 2, 2012. After nine months of generating ideas, drawing up a plan, searching for sponsors, contacts, people of good will, organizing the expedition, I am standing in the doorway of a plane to Paris, both full of excitement and stressed at the number of things that could go wrong when you least expect it. There is no going back, I say to myself putting my carry on bag in the overhead compartment. If I want to help Poland, the village in the Pacific, I have to overcome adversities of fate. After nearly thirty hours in the air and in the waiting-rooms of airports in Paris and Los Angeles, I arrived at Honolulu. Exhausted from travel and carrying tens of kilograms of luggage (you never know what might be useful in Poland) I was very warmly welcomed with a wreath of fresh, fragrant flowers by Dagmara, a colleague of Bożena Jarnot, the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Hawaii. Two days in the hotel let me somewhat recover my body and mind, or in other words to relieve me of jet lag. This was part of the itinerary. While preparing this project I took into consideration my experience of staying in New Zealand and that is having to change so many time zones. Another point in favor of this decision was knowing there is a single flight a week to get to the island of Kiritimati. Had problems at the airports disturbed the flight schedule, I could have been late for the only plane leaving for Kiribati. Fortunately, no such thing happened and everything was going according to the plan. On September 4 I left Honolulu for the island of Kiritimati. The flight lasted about three hours (unfortunately, the ticket price is close to what one would pay for a flight from Warsaw to Honolulu!).

At the international airport on the island of Kiritimati (the word airport we associate a little differently than it is over there) I was welcomed by Timei, a man who became my guide for a 2 week stay on the island. He was just driving his daughter and wife to catch the plane which I got off from. They were flying to Fiji where the daughter attends school and the mother will be there with her for the next few months. Timei took me by his teenage minivan to the house near which he built several houses for tourists. Although the island has one hotel, The Capitan Cook Hotel but at Timei’s I felt closer to the local community, immersed in their daily lives and responsibilities. The town of Tabwakea is close to the main town of London, home to the official offices, schools, hospitals and even one ministry. Thanks to his contacts and knack for different types of businesses he owns, Timei was the one to arrange my accommodation in the village of Poland. After two nights in the house rented from him and stocking up on a pack of one and a half liter bottles of drinking water and some fresh coconuts, we left for a few hour trip to Poland, the only village located on the opposite side of the island. The heat at the equator can take its toll so remembering not to dehydrate is one of the key responsibilities of a traveler. The entrance to the village of Poland has not been marked by any sign. Of course, along the road (more dirt than paved one) road signs were also nowhere to be seen. Timei was an excellent guide and with no hassle drove me to the door of St. Stanislaus Church in Poland. There, the local Catholics together with the catechist at the head showed me the place of night’s lodging and prepared local tea (boiled water with todi syrup – tastes like pickled cucumbers flavored sweet water). My accommodation for the night happened to be a cottage near the church that was used by the priest during his visit to the village 2-3 times a year. During the week spent with the villagers through participant observation I tried to see what the inhabitants of this village needed most. On the last day I confronted my remarks with opinions of inhabitants of Poland. The most important people in the village (village mayor, catechist, teacher, police officer, nurse) told me what they are missing. In order not to be groundless, I asked them to write down their needs on a piece of paper which I would then take to Poland in Europe and see how Poland helps Poland.

Among the requests the inhabitants of Poland included were: semi truck, power generator, incubator, defibrillator, ventilator, solar panels, metal boat with a combustion engine, a public building with a room for the mayor, the police officer, with a toilet and a computer room with the Internet and books, some materials to finish the repair of the church, the school, the kindergarten, the clinic, and even a sports field.

On the last day in the evening before I was to leave the village, I met with the local people thanking them for their hospitality. I made Polish potato pancakes and gave everything I had in my backpack and what could be handy to them: from food, T-shirts, and pens (I made sure that the souvenirs from Poland had Poland written on them), to  the solar lights and special printed on canvas in Poland images of St. Stanislaus Kostka, Black Madonna of Częstochowa, and Blessed  John Paul II, the Catholics in Poland love and remember very well for the missionary sermons.

After a week of living in Poland I went back to the rented house from Timei and the next day I met with officials who take care of the island. The poverty of Kiribati as a  country is well known in the Pacific region, thus help from the governments of Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan, and the USA. Unfortunately, those resources often vanish in the main towns of the island, rarely reaching  the smallest village lying at the other end of the island. The village of Poland is the real end of the world. For Europe Kiribati is the end of the world. From the capital of Kiribati to the island of Kiritimati is as far as to the end of the world. Unfortunately, on the island of Kiritimati it is the village of Poland that is at the end of the world. At this point the question arises whether the village can exist much longer without any assistance? Who can remember about this village? The name Poland indicates such country but is this country which received humanitarian aid itself up until the nineties of the twentieth century able to do the same thing for a small 400-person village in the middle of the Pacific?

In our association we have created a project Poland helps Poland, executing its first phase which is to check what is really needed for this village, we received the honorary patronage of the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, uploaded the project on the Internet, interested the press. We have made the first step in the right direction. Can anyone help us make the second one?

For information about the project go to the website of the Scientific Society of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania:

Read also:

Project Poland helps Poland. Part 1 – How did it start?

Project Poland helps Poland. Part 2 – Preparing for the journey

Autor: Dariusz Zdziech

Photos © Dariusz Zdziech

More information: Poland helps Poland | FB


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