By Adrian Hawkes, Special to ASSIST News Service
LONDON, UK (ANS – September 2, 2016) — Many years ago, during the dark days of the communist era, I went to Poland with the well-known USA singing group, The Couriers, and I remember that it was quite an experience, going through customs with a group of noisy Americans.
They were a fun bunch, however, and on a couple of occasions, the schedule did not work out correctly as roads, times, and the like, were not always easy to follow, especially on a Polish map. I can recall that when we stopped at a petrol [gas] station and wanted to phone ahead to the next town where the group were due to sing, so as to tell them we were running late, only to be laughed at by the guys in the garage who proudly showed us the phone, and one of them said, “We have one, but it doesn’t work.”
Fortunately, my American friend Phil Enloe, who was traveling with us, responded by saying, “Don’t worry. We are not so much into the singing as we are writing a book!” (I believe he meant that he would be writing a book about all that was going on during that trip.)
However, thankfully for the Polish people, things began to change for the better when Solidarity, led by Lech Wałęsa, came on the scene. It was founded in September 1980, was forcibly suppressed by the Polish government in December 1981, and reemerged in 1989 to become the first opposition movement to participate in free elections in a Soviet-bloc nation since the 1940s. Now, thankfully, Poland is a free country.
Now let’s fast forward, as just recently, I persuaded my Polish friend Norbert Palimaka from Legnica, a town in southwestern Poland, to come with me and see some of the work I and my team are involved with in Sri Lanka, which he did. Then, in turn, he showed me his latest film on the work that his Polish foundation (http://fundacjaespa.org/) is doing in the Philippines, establishing schools in areas where there is no education.
In long conversations with Norbert, he also explained how Poland has now moved on in incredible ways, and has a growing economy and so I later checked to see what Wikipedia has reported on the country. They said, “Poland is ranked 20th worldwide in terms of GDP and classified as high-income economy by World Bank. The largest component of its economy is the service sector (62.3%), followed by industry (34.2%) and agriculture (3.5. Poland shipped US$198.2 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2015, up by 5.4% since 2011 and down 7.6% from 2014 to 2015. The top Poland exports include machinery, electronic equipment, vehicles, furniture, and plastics.”
According to the Central Statistical Office of Poland, in 2010 the Polish economic growth rate was 3.9%, which was one of the best results in Europe. In Q1 2014 its economy grew by 3.4% and is expected to grow by 3.4% in 2014, 3.7% in 2015 and 3.9% in 2016. Poland has seen the largest increase GDP per capita (more than 100%) both among the former Soviet-bloc countries, and compared to the EU-15 (around 45%).] It has had uninterrupted economic growth since 1992, even after the 2007 financial crisis.
But back to Norbert, who went on to say that for these reasons the Polish church needed to take its place in reaching out to others who have great need, hence his involvement in the Philippines.
He commented that the Polish people were working hard, and many are forced to still hold two jobs to feed and support their family, but in real terms they were doing well and they now need to take their place in helping others, and he felt the Polish church could contribute well.
Poland, said Norbert, is still a “very conservative country, but we need to help it to look outward to the needs of others.”
In Legnica, Norbert is moving ahead with a local rather amazing program. The government has given him a huge building, which was formally the barracks for the Russian army when they were stationed in Poland, but he says that it is in a “bad state of repair.” So, as a consequence, Norbert is looking for the right funding, and when completed, the building will house a day nursery, a school that hopefully will be using a Christian curriculum, and a senior residency.
This, he believes, goes along with new desires from the Polish government that this project would enable senior citizens to better interact with young people, and would be good for all ages, and create a better health and social balance all around.
Alongside this, is a huge catering plan which would not only prepare meals for the preschool, school and senior residents, but further afield creating a profit margin that can be injected back into these helpful social programs.
Norbert says, “It’s time for the Polish church to move forward with our help, and we can do it.” He added to his supporters, “You can make the difference. So little is necessary to leave this world in a better place than we found it. It depends on me and you, on the ordinary and extraordinary choices we make each day.”
I couldn’t agree more! Well done, the Polish people and, of course, the Polish church.
To learn more about this fine work, please go to: http://ccespa.pl/en/.
Photo captions: 1) A recent picture of The Couriers singing at the UN in New York. 2) Side-by-side: The old and new architecture in Warsaw. 3) Norbert Palimaka being welcomed to Sri Lanka. 4) A visualization of the building. 5) Norbert looks on at school in the Philippines being helped by the Polish group. 5) Adrian and Pauline Hawkes.
About the writer: Adrian Hawkes is married to Pauline — Dan Wooding was best man at their wedding — and they have three children, 10 Grandchildren and two Great Grandchildren. He is still part of the Rainbow Church North London which he used to lead and he also works with Sri Lankan churches in France, Switzerland, Norway, Canada and Sri Lanka, as well as a church in Norway. He helped to form Phoenix Community Care Ltd, which looks after some 30+ unaccompanied minors, and vulnerable adults in housing in North London; alongside his wife Pauline, he established PCC Foster Care agency and has launched London Training Consortium Ltd., which trains refugees and asylum seekers with ESOL, IT, and Literacy. He has also written various books including: “Leadership and.,” “Attracting Training: Releasing Youth,” “The Jacob Generation,” “HELLO is that you God?”, “Culture Clash,” and his first, fiction book, “ICEJACKED. He can be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com.
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