General Manager to the Board of the Trust
I am an optimist – I enjoy the simple pleasures of daily life, of meeting someone and hearing all about their life. Their stories flow through me like a river of colours, leaving their hues in my heart: mistakes made, endless problems, family dramas, tragedies sometimes. What room is left for optimism? Well – I like answering difficult questions! I’m optimistic because I always have hope – a hope which gives me a new dose of energy each day, to act and to unpick even the most tangled Gordian knots.
Thanks to this hope I am sure of this: whenever you fall, you can get back up. The evils in life are not just to be overcome – they can make you tougher and stronger. I am here at SOS Polonia, working to find the silver linings.
Operation Manager of SOS Polonia Trust
I view my work at SOS Polonia in a similar way. I want to help people on their way to a peaceful, happy life – even if the road to get there looks difficult. I’ve noticed that some migrants feel that moving to Britain has only made their road harder.
I am a Slav – Slovak blood, a Czech heart, Polish bones – but I’ve fallen in love my British husband and my English home. So I know how different this place is to the places I grew up, but I know from experience that just a little work can build a bridge from there to here.
If I can pass on only one thing to the people I help, it’s this: you need to believe in yourself, to have courage, and to know that it’s worth taking the first step.
To wander is to experience life, to learn how to live. One day you can feel strong enough to move a mountain, the next day you’re not so sure. But step by step, you go learn to enjoy the horizon in front of you and to value the miles behind you.
My travels have taught me that obstacles exist so that you can overcome them, so you can learn to take them on boldly, with hope. My desire now is to share my experiences, to help people with their problems, to rebuild hope when hope is lost.
As a seasoned traveller, I know that finding SOS Polonia was no mere accident. It was meant to be – love at first sight. After all that I’ve seen in my wandering, I am privileged to be working for such an excellent organisation.
When I’m dancing, I’m in my element – it gives me a feeling of freedom and joy. But dance also requires discipline. The steps must match the music. That’s the dancer’s duty – never lose the rhythm, never forget a step.
And what is life if not a dance? To live, to dance – with a good partner, with a good band, rhythmically, responsibly. How simple it seems…
I know that’s not how it works. An event, a situation, or a person comes along who throws our timing off – perhaps for years at a time. Then what? Well, isn’t it good if there is someone who can take our us hand, show us the steps, count the rhythm, take the lead? This art is no stranger to me.
Would you like to dance ….?
The work of SOS Polonia convinces me that it is worth taking the time to really understand others. You need to listen to people in a way that makes them want to talk to you, and talk to them in way that makes them want to listen – this is something I learned from Barbara Storey, the lady who invited me to work for of SOS Polonia share in this charitable mission.
I’ll admit that working at SOS Polonia was like jumping in at the deep end for me. I had to quickly become efficient at finding information, understanding regulations, and knowing which people can help solve a problem. It takes a mixture of determination and sensitivity to work on our clients’ issues. My job is about doing the right thing, but it is equally important to me that people – often lonely, rejected people – can count on our kind support and believe that all is not lost. A kind word and a smile can work miracles ….
My happiness gives me so much energy that I can’t keep locked it all up inside of me. So I don’t lock it up! But there have been times when I was missing happiness, hope, and energy. That is why I understand very well that for many people, hope is a distant light. I meet these people every day. They’re surrounded by a thick fog of problems, often because they can’t speak English. In such a fog it is difficult to find the right path. This fog is no stranger to me – I’ve been in there, I’ve known how hard it is to move through it, but I’ve also learned useful a helping hand can be.
So I teach English at SOS Polonia – this is my way to clear the fog. I try to keep my pupils from treating these lessons as something to endure with gritted teeth. I’m not content to just hand them a set of vocabulary and grammar rules. I really want them to have the courage to listen and to talk, when they meet their British colleagues and neighbours. I want to equip my students so they are not afraid to show kindness anywhere, even if they’re just smiling to people in a shop or on a street, they’ll be able to do this “in English”. This will be the key to understanding the places they have chosen for themselves and their families.