Help Without Borders: 13.05

Watch the latest episode of TVP World’s Help Without Borders - a show dedicated to refugees from Ukraine, to learn about their stories, the volunteers, charities, and organisations providing humanitarian assistance.

TVP World’s Anna Jabłońska interviewed Mrs Lidia Maksymowicz, who survived the German Nazi Auschwitz concentration camp. Born in what is today Belarus, she was sent to the infamous death camp when she was merely three years of age. Joseph Mengele, “The Angel of Death” himself, selected her for human experimentation, and she survived in the camp for 13 months, until she was rescued by a Polish family. Mrs Maksymowicz now lives in Krakow, and she frequently works with the Galicja Jewish Museum located there.

This year, she was invited to the opening of the Eurovision contest, where she inaugurated the opening of the Music Village in Turin. During her speech, she appealed for peace and solidarity with Ukraine. In the interview, she expressed the hope that she managed to get through to people with her message. For most of her life she had only spoken to people about her experience as a survivor of Auschwitz.

For two years she has been organising events in Italy, during which she would talk to people about history. She also often has the chance to speak with important and powerful people, and thereby, hopefully, influence them. An elderly lady, Mrs Maksymowicz is happy to be able to contribute something important towards the end of her life.

Mrs Maksymowicz thinks it is important to tell them about history, and so she tells her own story. She frequently meets with young people who come to the Galicja Jewish Museum or Auschwitz, as she believes that talking to the next generations is particularly important.

She says that when she shows her listeners the tattoo she received as a child, some are incredulous that anyone would do something like that to a child. But she says that the youths are always interested to listen. She uses the fact that she has their attention, and tells them that the future of the world is in their hands, and it is up to them to prevent these things from happening again in the future.

Mrs Maksymowicz hopes the situation in Ukraine will not lead to a repeat of what happened during World War Two. She is hopeful, because she sees people opening their arms to welcome the refugees and help them. She thinks that Polish people are so eager to help, because of their own historical experiences. She stresses that during World War Two there were also people who did their best to help, such as the people who lived around the Auschwitz camp, saw what was going on, and tried to provide some assistance.

Mrs Maksymowicz concluded the interview with an appeal to the powerful people of the world and to the young people, asking them to get involved and stop the madness and the hate.

Businesses for charity

Another guest of the programme was Marek Schejbal, an entrepreneur who decided to register a brand called “U Brand”, in order to support the charity he also registered “U Donate”.

The idea behind the initiative is to get in touch with manufacturers of goods and their distributors, and encourage them to join the initiative. Those that pledge to donate part of their profit margin, which together is planned to amount to 50 percent of the product’s wholesale price, will put the “U Brand” logo on their products. What is important, the retail price of the product will not change the price for the consumer. They can continue to buy the same products they are used to, but now, effortlessly, support a good cause. Or they can pick another product that is a part of the initiative.

The money thus collected will be distributed further to charitable initiatives that provide aid to Ukraine. Talks are already underway with companies that will join the initiative, and with charities that ask for assistance. Which charities will receive the money will be decided by a panel of experts, who will assess where the needs are the most urgent at that particular moment.

The initiative is already gathering steam, but because it may still take several weeks or months before it is in full swing, Mr Schejbal intends for the charity to focus on what will be needed to rebuild Ukraine, hoping that the conflict is soon over. But the rebuilding effort will take much longer than the war. Even then, the initiative can continue to operate. All that will be needed is to change the flag used in the branding.

The target that the “U Donate” initiative has set for itself is to collect EUR 100 mln by the end of 2023. Mr Schejbal is positive this is an achievable goal. He has a long experience working professionally with food manufacturers, and he not only knows the business, but also can use his professional contacts to reach the right people.

Inquired about what prompted him to start “U Brand” and “U Donate”, Mr Schejbals says, that although he was born and raised in the UK, his family has Polish roots, and his grandfather was born in Ternopil, now located in western Ukraine. His family also hosted a Ukrainian refugee who stayed with them for some time. So for him, the success of the brand and the charity is a personal objective, and a chance to use the entire career-worth of experience to make good use of it.