Referred to as “Modlińska”, the Ukrainian settlement center at Centrum Targowo-Kongresowe GlobalEXPO is a very different experience from our Warszawa Centralna base.
Because of the tight quarters here, there are outbreaks of viruses and disease. One of our Ukrainian volunteers had angina for a week before being able to get antibiotics. People here are languishing, and desperate to move on.
Processing times for CUAET (Canadian visas) and biometrics approvals takes 6-8 weeks, meaning there are some families who are spending upwards of a month in settlement centers like this.
While health and safety are certainly a concern, the need for mental health support is one of the most glaring issues.
Another vast difference in this demographic is their origins in Ukraine. Families at Modlińska are coming out of places like Bucha – where the bloody chapter known as “the Bucha Massacre” has been carved into world history, as well as Mariupol – the site of what is being called one of the 21st century’s most heinous war crimes.
When you are preoccupied with establishing where you will eat and sleep every day, with time between spent tackling the enormous reams of bureaucracy required for immigration (in a foreign language no less), mental health falls to the bottom of the priority list. On top of this, Ukrainians have a very stiff-upper-lip culture, and many do not recognize their need for this support. We have added a section to our Resources page to help with this, and we will be directing people here in our day-to-day interactions.
Despite all of this trouble, spirits are still high. Displays of human kindness and generosity leave us in stunned silence. Laughter can be heard from the “kitchen.” Children play.