„Journeys close and far” – photo relations
A series of relations and a photo session have been organized as part of the project under the banner “Journeys close and far”. Learn about 10 people who came to Poland and found their place on Earth here. You will have a chance to discover their stories and better understand the situation of foreigners in Poland. Photo relations reveal the foreigners’ profiles and the stories of their lives, as well as reasons, often outer ones, that encouraged them to come to Poland.
We invite you to discover their stories.
Among other things in Poland, Tetiana appreciates peace the most. Nature is her world, that’s why she’s a graduate of ecology studies. Right now she’s thinking about completing a florist’s course.
Tetiana is from Nikopol in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast of Ukraine. She graduated from the University of Kiev where she completed ecology studies. In her homeland, she left her mother and grandmother. She misses them very much. She came to Poland with her husband and son, Danil. They arrived in the Vistula Land to lead a decent life. Here, she imagines the future for herself and her family. “In Ukraine everything was very expensive, here even milk and meat are cheaper” – says Tetiana. Among things that she appreciates in Poland are peace, order and job opportunities. Tetiana’s husband works, but she’s still looking for her place in this new and relatively unknown world. She’s learning the Polish language – for example, she took part in the course organised under the project. She’s also trying to study. She finished a post secondary school for babysitters, an occupational health and safety course and now she’s thinking about doing a florist’s course. Her son Danil started learning at a Polish school and speaks Polish very well. He doesn’t have any problems with studying and his mum is very proud of him. “It is him who doesn’t want to go back to Ukraine because he see’s a better world here” – added Tetiana.
Tetiana came to Poland with her husband and son Danil, who started learning at a Polish school and speaks Polish very well. It is Danil who doesn’t want to go back to Ukraine.
From the very beginning, Szczecin has been the destination of her journey to Poland. When she was still in Ukraine she already knew that there’s a place like that somewhere in Poland. She fell in love with the city at first sight. She was charmed by a lot of greenery and walks around parks, which she could take even in the centre of Szczecin. She especially loves Jasne Blonia. Nature is her world and she hopes that one day she’d be able to return to the profession for which she studied in her homeland. She is very fond of Szczecin Philharmonic, she adores the main building and visits it often. For now, Tetiana is a little overwhelmed, she’s learning about Poland and she also admits that every Pole she has met brought a lot of goodness to her life. Thanks to the project carried out by Caritas Poland she has met a lot of people, who not only give her useful advice on important official problems, but also offer their support in difficult situations typical for every immigrant in a foreign country.
In her homeland, Tetiana mainly took care of raising her child, but she also made some extra money by following her passion for baking gingerbread. However, it’s not only a typical cooking skill, but also an art. They are of different beautifully decorated shapes. Gingerbread is put on sticks and made into a flower-like bouquet, which is then given to friends. For instance, bouquets were turned into gifts for Teacher’s Day at her son’s school. She cares about the reality around her, as befits an aesthete. For example, she managed to design and paint her flat all by herself.
Tetiana dreams about putting her ecological education to use in Poland. She’s especially sensitive to art. She hopes to use this talent one day.
David came to Poland in 2016 from Tbilisi, Georgia. His passion is cooking, which he had learnt at his family home and only then finished post-graduate studies in this field. However, his education had not been associated with cooking from the start. He is a graduate of a secondary music school, violin class, and a music conservatory, opera singing class. However, he doesn’t want to admit that he practices singing now that he cooks. He states that there’s no time for that. At his restaurant in Szczecin he usually cooks by himself, but sometimes his parents help him too. He says that the most important thing is for every product to be fresh. His restaurant in the Szczecin city centre is called Imereti – after a region of the same name located in Georgia.
David has his own restaurant in Szczecin called Imereti, where he cooks by himself, but sometimes his parents help him too. He points out that the most important thing is for every product to be fresh.
Though his culinary experience is significant, he left his country in pursuit of a better life. For instance, he cooked for the former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili. Just like many other Georgians he is very fond of Poles, but he doesn’t like bureaucracy, which entrepreneurs have to face in Poland.
Khachapuri, a Georgian pizza-cake, is the most popular dish in David’s restaurant. Customers also like lamb and dumplings. During our meeting he brewed tea and proved that real Georgian tea should be strong and aromatic. David brought it from Georgia just like spices, which he uses to prepare his dishes. What does he find surprising about Poland? The fact that when eating in a group Poles pay for themselves separately. In Georgia the bill after eating is paid by a single person.
A real Georgian tea should be strong and aromatic.
David’s dream? Less bureaucracy, permanent residence in Poland and a renovation of his restaurant. He’s certainly going to do it himself. Because David is a jack-of-all-trades. He’s not only an artist, but also a pragmatist, who can do nearly everything on his own. He has already bought construction materials and planned the renovation. The walls of his restaurant couldn’t do without accents close to his heart, which reveal his artistic soul. They show photographs of interesting places in the capital of Georgia. Among them there’s a black and white photo of a bridge in Tbilisi and a hunting centre with thermals baths, there are also copies of works by Georgian visual artists. David believes that he will meet his other half in Poland very soon. Will he return to Georgia? He says he doesn’t believe that very much at the moment, but he left his home and apartment in the country.
The walls of David’s restaurant couldn’t do without accents close to his heart. They show photographs of interesting places in the capital of Georgia and copies of works by Georgian visual artists.
Hanna lived in Slovyansk in the Donieck Oblast of Ukraine. There, she left her shop, two houses and a car. She laughs that in her homeland she had been working for a retirement pension worth 200 zloty for many years. She came to Poland running from war in eastern Ukraine. She left in 2015, when things started to get really dangerous and when her fear of war was just too much to handle. Hanna witnessed a shooting near her house. One day she received information about a way out of the region. She and another family managed to escape. She was leaving in a forest with her friends for 10 days – in a tent and a car. They waited until the fighting stopped. The thing that she remembers the best is the last night, pouring rain and shooting, which stopped a little before midnight. In the early morning she was surprised by silence. They were able to escape those dangerous regions thanks to a created path. First she had gone to Kiev, where she had provided cosmetic services and made extra money by sewing. Finally, however, she came to Poland in 2016 following her son – Illa – currently a student of dietetics at a university in Poznan. When asked about missing her material assets, which she left behind in her country, she smiled and said that she didn’t miss them, because peace and safety were the most important things. “Back home there was no normal life and peace, which I have found in Poland” – added Mrs Hania. In her place of living in Ukraine people are afraid to leave their houses at night, and during the day they must lock them because there are many thieves lurking around.
Mrs Hanna’s dream was to buy an Overlock machine, which she can now use to sew almost anything.
In Poland, Hania finished a medical caregiver course and looks after older people. Currently, she’s caring for an old person under the Caritas project. However, she’s still learning new things. She was very happy when she bought a special sewing machine – an Overlock. It was her dream – to have such a multifunctional sewing device. She can sew anything and she specializes in female outfits: she can “conjure up” a dress, a jacket or any other piece of clothing. Hania has many talents, she can paint nails beautifully and she’s also a good cook. She’s been promoting Ukrainian cuisine among her Polish friends. She’s often asked to make some of the national dishes. As she says herself – Poles love her roasted eggplants with yoghurt garlic sauce and tomatoes inside.
Hanna is also a good cook and she eagerly promotes Ukrainian cuisine among Polish friends, who like her roasted eggplant the most.
She feels very comfortable among Poles, has many friends here, maybe because of her openness and smile, which is always present on Mrs Hania’s face. Does she miss Ukraine? She answers that she only misses the weather, which in her city, Slavyansk, is very sunny and it rarely rains. She has already settled in Poland thanks to her Polish friends, who can always help her, even when she has some health problems. When asked about her dreams Hania answered that all she wanted was a normal, stable and peaceful life, because she already had good-hearted people around her.
When asked about her dreams Hanna said that all she wanted was a normal, stable and peaceful life, because she already had good-hearted people around her.
Oksana is from Khmelnytskyi in western Ukraine. She finished economic studies at the Khmelnytskyi National University. In her homeland, she worked as a manager for a large company, which distributed stationary and school materials. She managed 35 stores. She also took part in many social projects, i.e. for Caritas in Ukraine. In the country she left behind her house. She’s been in Poland since July 2019. She enjoys learning and taking up new professional challenges. Actually, she’s never been afraid of new endeavours associated with work.
In Ukraine, Oksana was a manager at a large company, which distributed stationary and school materials. In Szczecin, she works at „Ukrainoczka” store, where she’s also the manager, and she also started studies to better learn economic vocabulary and the Polish law.
She works at “Ukrainoczka” store in Szczecin, where she’s the manager. She also started studying project management at the West Pomeranian Business School in Szczecin, because she wants to deepen her knowledge about economic vocabulary and the Polish law as well as the workings of the economic world. She also cares a lot about using Polish correctly. However, her greatest passion is not work, but family and spending time together with her son and husband.
Oksana’s greatest passion is her family and spending time together with her son and husband.
It is her husband Maksym who first came to Poland in 2018. He is of Polish descent. Oksana followed him and now she’s very happy that her spouse – in Ukraine an athlete with good results in heavy weight lifting – started exercising again and takes care of his physical condition. She says that they have finally found stability and peace.
Beginnings in Poland were not easy for her. Cooking and trying to figure out Polish dishes were the hardest things. Oksana didn’t really know how to use some products. It took her six months to understand what Polish mirepoix (soup vegetables) was and what it’s used for. In Ukraine, people don’t use celery roots or parsley in the kitchen at all. She says that it’s even hard to buy celery in a usual store. From time to time you could find an old lady at a farmer’s market who offered such specialties. Now she enjoys Polish tastes and has learned to cook with vegetables that she hasn’t known up till now.
Beginnings in Poland were not easy for her, and the hardest things were cooking and figuring out Polish dishes. Oksana didn’t really know what some products were used for. For example, in Ukraine people never use celery roots or parsley in the kitchen. Now she’s taking a liking to Polish tastes and she has learned to cook with vegetables that she hasn’t known up till now.
What’s the most important thing in her life? Family. Oksana is thinking about making it bigger. She also dreams about her own small business, which would provide economic security. She admires Poles for caring about family ties, respect towards family, and in particular for love, which people share among each other. According to Oksana, people in Poland openly show their feelings, and she’s especially touched by older men who give flowers to their wives. “There’s definitely more love here than in Ukraine” – laughs Oksana.
Oksana admires Poles for caring about family ties, respect towards family and in particular for love, which people share among each other.
Guilene came to Szczecin with her Polish fiancé from the Republic of Congo in 2017. In her country, she used to work at a hotel. In Poland, she’s still waiting for her work permit. Completing procedures to legalize work for Africans takes a lot of time. She’s also waiting to get married because it’s not easy to enter into marriage with a citizen from an African country. Not only do the procedures take a long time, but also they are very expensive.
Guilene came to Szczecin from the Republic of Congo with her Polish fiancé.
For now Guilene is slowly learning Polish, although it’s not easy for someone who speaks French. She took part in the Polish language course organized under the project and now she’s just trying to talk to Poles and watch movies with subtitles to perfect her language skills. Did she fear coming to Poland? Not really, an expensive flight was the only problem. She talks to her family online everyday. When asked about what surprised her about Poland she answered laughing: “the fact that everyone is white and there are no black people” and added “and it’s very cold”. But despite the cold she doesn’t wear socks and chooses rather light outfits. How do Poles welcome her? Very well, some look at her curiously and pronounce her name in different ways. Sometimes officials change her homeland or write her name wrongly in the received documents.
Guliene loves life and fashion. She eagerly poses for photos and changes outfits, chooses different styles.
Guliene loves life and fashion. In Poland, she sometimes wears typical African head coverings or wigs popular in her country. She eagerly poses for photos and changes outfits, chooses different styles. In her free time she uses crocheting needles to make baby outfits which she then sends to her friends living in other countries, for example in France. They include hats, scarves and little sweaters. Being creative in the kitchen brings her immense joy. Her starter in the form of Santa-eggs is a real masterpiece. Guilene believes that every detail must be perfected. She loves to bake cakes and pastries, which decorations are always astonishing. Guilene also cooks dishes popular in Congo. Unfortunately not all ingredients can be bought in Poland. For instance, it’s impossible to get manioc leaves and some spices. She often decorates her hand-made dishes with the red-yellow-green flag of Congo.
In Poland, Guliene sometimes wears typical African head coverings or wigs popular in her country.
Botir comes from Tashkent in Uzbekistan. In his homeland, he actively took part in politics and defended human rights. He’s been playing football since he was nine years old, so it’s not surprising that in his adult life he was promoted to the position of vice-president of the Tashkent Region Football Association. He managed to invite the best sports specialists to work in Uzbek football. He’s a graduate of political science studies. In Uzbekistan, he was a tutor at a military unit, a sports instructor, and chairman of the combatant union.
Botir comes from Tashkent in Uzbekistan. In his homeland he actively took part in politics and defended human rights
He came to Poland with his whole family for the first time in 2001. He was granted the residence permit and the permanent residence card. Because his great passion is language learning – he learned French and Flemish on his own –he left for Belgium in 2008, where he worked in car factories in Lier. At that time his education in the field of vehicle mechanics came in handy. He came back to Poland in 2019 after being invited by his friend to run a job agency together. He can speak Polish but is still learning it. Currently he’s trying to help people – those like him twenty years ago – fit into a new environment.
Botir emphasises that Uzbeks know Poles and Poland well and are very fond of them. Besides, the two nations share history. Today many Polish descendants live in Tashkent, whose ancestors built railways there in the 19th century.
Botir emphasises that Uzbeks know Poles and Poland well and are very fond of them. He learnt a lot about our country when he was still living in Uzbekistan. In the 19th century the tsar sent around 10 thousand Poles to build railways in Tashkent and their descendants live there to this day. The largest Roman Catholic Church in Asia is located in that region. Both nations really like each other, Uzbeks know Polish culture and watch Polish movies. That’s why Botir was not afraid of coming to Poland, where he was really well welcomed. He thinks it’s the best place on Earth to settle down, because Poles have similar culture and mentality.
Currently, family is another matter that ties him to Poland. His daughter married a Pole. Botir also has two granddaughters – Julia and Amelia. They all live in Szczecin. It is Botir’s passion for chess that has helped him find a common language with Poles, among whom he has many playing partners. Today, they are his true friends.
Thanks to his passion for chess, Botir has found a common language with Poles, among whom he has many playing partners.
Oleksandra has been in Poland since 2019. She’s from Kryvyi Rih in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast of Ukraine. She finished hotel and catering studies in Dnipropetrovsk. There, she worked i.e. at the youth culture centre. She came to Poland with her husband and son. She’s been living outside her homeland since 2015. Because of the war in Ukraine she and her husband decided to leave for Italy. There, she worked at a restaurant where she became fascinated by Italian cuisine, she especially loves pasta Bolognese, pizza and desserts. She also worked for an Italian-French family – she looked after its children. However, she didn’t abandon her passion for cooking and baking. In Italy, she completed a catering and confectionery course and became fascinated by its inhabitants’ passion for eating. “Everyone eats and cooks there” – said Oleksandra – “and I wanted to do that as well”. Still, she left Italy with her husband, because she couldn’t work there legally anymore. Her husband found work in Szczecin and that’s why the whole family came to Poland. Stability is the most important thing for them.
Before coming to Poland, Oleksandra had lived in Italy, where she had become fascinated by Italian cuisine and Italians’ passion for eating.
In Poland, she has put her cooking skills to use. She is a confectioner at one of the restaurants in Szczecin. She prepares various sweets and delicate, modern, muss-based cakes. She likes to experiment and make something many times until she achieves a unique outcome. For her, shape is as important as taste. That was the case with macaroon – French cookies – which proper preparation required many days of work. And there’s still a lot to do better – laughed Oleksandra. She specializes in baking cakes. She finds joy in every well-made treat. She’s looking for new recipes all the time. Her favourite national dishes include Ukrainian borsch with beans, vegetables and meat. When it comes to Polish cuisine, she enjoys pierogi (Polish dumplings) the most, but also doesn’t mind eating bigos (Polish sauerkraut and meat stew).
In Poland, she uses her culinary skills as a confectioner at one of the restaurants in Szczecin. She finds joy in every well-made treat and dreams about mastering the secrets of culinary arts.
She feels very comfortable in Poland, doesn’t feel stress associated with immigration, because she has lived outside Ukraine for a long time. One day, she would like to go back to her homeland. “Homeland is home, everything there is familiar, I know what things are like there, what I can find when I return there” – said Oleksandra, “ here, in a different country everything is new, you need to learn everything from scratch”. Currently she’s focusing on discovering Poland and trying to use the gathered experiences as best as she can while also learning from them. But she also has time for leisure. She likes reading in Italian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish, but only children’s books for now. She helps her family in Ukraine, her parents and grandmother live there.
Oleksandra values aesthetics in every aspect of life, she likes stylishness and has her own style. “It’s hard to talk about dreams” – said Oleksandra. She’d like to deepen her knowledge about secrets of confectionery and cooking. She dreams about the end of the war in Ukraine, but she doesn’t want to make any plans. She says you can have various plans, but life always unfolds in its own way.
She’s from Vinnytsia in central Ukraine, the hometown of the largest multimedia fountain in Europe.
She came to Poland with her daughters Olha and Ira in 2019. Her husband had arrived in the country before that to work in Szczecin. She’s from Vinnytsia in central Ukraine. “It is the hometown of the largest multimedia fountain in Europe” – said Natallia. She’s a graduate of economic studies. In Ukraine, she was an entrepreneur for 20 years. She had her own stall with fruit and vegetables at a farmer’s market. How was she welcomed in Poland? She thinks that Poles treat foreigners well. She hasn’t encountered aversion on their part. She is surprised by cleanliness and peacefulness in Poland. She doesn’t like bureaucracy and paperwork very much, which she has to deal with because of her stay in Poland. “For now I mostly visit government offices” – laughed Nataliia.
Nataliia loves traditional Ukrainian embroidery.
She loves traditional Ukrainian embroidery and she’d like her daughters to remember where they come from and know their national traditions. When she came to Poland she brought a towel with her, which she had sown by hand for her wedding. It has many plant patterns. This piece of fabric symbolizes life, and threads sown into it embody future events, the shared fate of the spouses. Each thread colour symbolizes a different aspect of life, black for example is earth. Where Nataliia comes from, such a towel is put under the feet of the newlyweds during the wedding ceremony. Nataliia uses needles and beads to embroider characteristic blouses known in Ukraine simply as embroideries. They typically include flower embroideries. In her free time, she also enjoys reading. She’s not proud of her Polish, for which her daughters are constantly giving her a talking-to, but she’s content that Poles understand everything she says.
She also embroiders characteristic blouses known in Ukraine simply as embroideries.
Right now Nataliia is looking for her own place in the new country. She takes part in language courses and specialist classes at university. She also started learning at a post secondary school where she wants to get qualifications of a medical caregiver. She still doesn’t know where she could work but she laughs a lot and sees the future in bright colours. In the meantime she takes care of her house, cooks, discovers the new world. Dreams? She doesn’t want to talk about them right now – because they won’t come true if she does.
Nataliia is a physician by education whose dream is to have her diploma recognized in Poland.
She’s from around Kharkiv in Ukraine. She’s a physician of internal medicine by education and a uniquely brave woman. A tiny woman with an immense inner strength. Nataliia has three children – two daughters – Valeria and Maria, and a son – Igor. Valeria came to Poland first. She studied double majors in Khariv: hydraulic engineering and transport economics, but she gave up on that and started learning agrotourism at a technical high school in Lubomierz under an international UNESCO project. Nataliia came to Poland with her two other children in June 2019.
In Poland she’s with her children– daughters Valeria and Maria and her son Igor.
She left because she couldn’t imagine her and her children’s future life in Ukraine. “The young finish studies and are left without perspectives” said Nataliia. “The condition of some buildings is terrifying, my daughter gave up studies when she saw dormitories at her university” – added the Ukrainian physician. She ended up in Szczecin because she and her daughters found seasonal work at Amazon there. They wanted to get enough money for her daughter’s education and life in Poland. She points out that much selfless help was given to them by Caritas and she has never expected to get so much aid from foreigners in a foreign country. Her children are especially stressed right now, because they moved from a Ukrainian school to a Polish one. However, they like it very much. They’re trying to get the best results and don’t want to return to Ukraine.
Currently, Nataliia works as a caregiver of a disabled child. In Poland she sees the future and a chance for a better life for her and her children.
Currently, Nataliia works as a caregiver of a disabled child. She dreams about getting her medical diploma recognized, but for that she has to know both Polish and English fluently. She speaks French. She wants to take part in courses and is considering work as a medical volunteer in Poland.
Maybe that’s the first step towards making her dreams come true. “Poland is great because when you’re working you’re really working, and when you’re resting you’re really resting” – pointed out Nataliia. In Poland she sees the future and a chance for a better life for her and her children.
Zura comes from Chechnya and came to Poland in July 2006 when her country was at war.
Zura comes from Chechnya. She was born and raised in Grozny. There, she finished engineering studies in the field of food science and brewing technology. She didn’t have a chance to work in her profession, because there was no work for her in the country destroyed by war. She came to Poland with her husband in July 2006. At that time, her country was at war. She thought about returning to Chechnya many times, but finally Zura and her husband decided to stay in Poland for the sake of their children.
In this new country she got surprised by order, cleanliness and a different way of life – full of peace and consistency. “Chechnya lacked that, there was only haste and fear” – said Zura. Beginnings in Poland were not easy for her. She didn’t know the language, there were problems with formalities required to get the residence card, they were short on money. She lived at the refugee centre in Lukowo. It was difficult to find a flat. At that time people were afraid to rent to foreigners. “There was no work, every day my husband went to the bazaar in Warsaw very early in the morning to find a job, we had to borrow money” – added Zura. Fortunately, her aunt from Lomza helped them in those difficult times.
Zura quickly learned to speak Polish fluently and she thinks that the most important thing about living in a foreign country is to try to fit in with its inhabitants, not to remain in a closed group of nationals and stay open to new relations.
Thanks to her language talent Zura quickly learned to speak Polish fluently. According to her, the most important thing about living in a foreign country is to try to fit in with its inhabitants, not to remain in a closed group of nationals and stay open to new relations. What are Poles like? They are a little afraid of foreigners, but when they take to someone they tend to be very helpful and open. “And although they describe themselves as intolerant people – it’s not true” stated Zura. She added that Poles were too self-critical and she knew from experience that although they were not very rich, you could always count on them. She has experienced that many times.
Zura thinks that although Poles are not very rich, you can always count on them. She has experienced that many times.
Thanks to her openness, organizational skills and fluency in the Polish language, Zura became a cultural advisor for Caritas. She helps foreigners and refugees who come to Poland, shares her own experiences with them, helps them in finding their own way in a new reality. Zura is a Muslim, but working in a Catholic organization is not a problem for her. She learnt about the organization and its activities when she lived in Chechnya and she remembers the Caritas logo and help it offered during the war. She says that there is only one God and every one has a different way of believing. “And in the end we are all on earth only for some time” – said Zura. She’s joyful that she meets good-hearted people in Poland.
Zura works for Caritas as a cultural advisor. She helps foreigners and refugees who come to Poland, shares her own experiences with them, helps them in finding their own way in a new reality.
Today, Zura has many friends in Poland. Her best friend is Jola, who from the start has been very open towards her and Zura has always been able to count on her. What’s the most important thing in the life of a Chechen woman residing in Szczecin? Of course it’s family. She’s the mother of a bunch of children – she has two daughters and two sons. Their names are Sofija, Muhamed, Maxelina and Ahmed. Three of them go to a Polish school, the youngest is in kindergarten, and all of them speak Polish very well. Two of them train judo and have significant achievements in that sport. Their mother drives them to judo training sessions all the time and cheers for them during competitions. What are Zura’s dreams? For her children to win gold medals while representing the Polish judo team.
Family always comes first. Zura has two daughters and two sons. Two of them train judo and have significant achievements in that sport.