In Warsaw, refugees from Ukraine find solace, relief and peace

“The opportunity to be a witness of all this is a grace, an experience of which we are not worthy. It is an experience of encounter with Christ himself ”


It was a Thursday, more specifically February 24, 2022. On this day, the world began to witness the first action that initiated the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine. That day had everything to be another ordinary day on Ukrainian lands. People lived their lives without having to worry about bombs, weapons, tanks… However, the first explosion reported hit a residential building and many people were injured. From that moment on, the people of Ukraine realized that the tragic situation of war had become real. So many people quickly became refugees.

>> Follow the Shalom Community on YouTube

It was not long before hundreds, thousands and even millions of people left the attacked territory in search of refuge in neighboring lands. But where to find refuge in such an atypical moment? The images of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine impress with the devastation – they also refer to the second war, a dark period for humanity. On the other hand, the solidarity posture of neighboring countries has been highlighted in such a painful time in the history of society. Countries such as Hungary and Poland have been welcoming refugees from Ukraine for almost a month. And there are some testimonies about this welcoming experience that we would like to share with you.

Men and women, young people and children, families and even foreigners… live in this time as Refugees in Hope. To welcome all these people, missionaries from the Shalom Catholic Community, united with the local Church of Poland, more specifically Warsaw, have made themselves available. 

Refugees from Ukraine in Warsaw

Missionary Isnayde Barreto, who currently lives in Warsaw, Poland, shares that the first contact with refugees was with a group of young Moroccan university students who lived in Ukraine because of their studies. They have arrived around the fifth day since the beginning of the conflicts. These young Muslims were welcomed into a retreat house that is next to the Community house.

Many of them even had only their clothes and a backpack with documents, money and what they could carry. They agreed to go to the Community house for a meal and to be with the missionaries.

“We sang, we played, we talked, we listened to them. When they left our house very late, they didn’t even seem to want to sleep, even though they were so tired. When we said goodbye, they thanked us several times, with a real smile, for having been welcomed into our house, ”says Isnayde.

The young missionary also says that a Ukrainian named Tetyana (Tatiana), who lived in Kiev, went to the Community house because she did not want to be alone, and found herself safe in the missionary house, where she felt she could rest. “She had tea with us and we talked for a few hours, she thanked us for praying for Ukraine and thanked us because she could simply spend that time with us, that the fear she brought of loneliness, at that moment, she no longer felt”.

100 refugees from Ukraine

Around the fourteenth day, after the beginning of the conflicts, the retreat house, located next to the Community house, welcomed mothers with their children, this time Ukrainians from different parts of the conflict territory, around 100 people.

“In the first contact, the children took us in, and they took us to their mothers. In children, one sees their own joy and mothers bring relief to look at their children, uncertainty in the face of the future and the pain of their husbands being in the midst of war”, highlights the missionary.

According to Isnayde, even before the arrival of the refugees from Ukraine, the missionaries of Warsaw experienced the following certainty: “Christ is our Peace”. By being involved with their reality, the members of the Community realized that they had nothing to give but their own life, their presence, their prayer, their acceptance, because, in the end, it is Christ the one who comes to their encounter. All this is what Christ gave to each of them. Isnayde also points out that mothers always thank them for their presence and that children await missionaries with joy.

“We started doing some activities with them every day of the week. Among them, there are dance classes, playful activities for children, silent theater, dance course for mothers, Polish classes for mothers, who already start looking for work here, for not knowing when they will return to their homes or if they will return. When I wrote this I realized that we are only at the beginning of what God wants to do, and we hope to be able to witness to them the experience that the Lord has given us: He is our Peace!”

Christ is our Peace

Isnayde points out that this moment has mainly been an experience of encounter with other beliefs. However, at every moment, charity, love and service stand out.

“Even though we are some of other religions (Muslims, brothers of the Orthodox Church), we see charity, love and service uniting us, becoming one and being a source of consolation, presence, joy and hope. And I can say that not only do they need us, but we also need them, to deeply touch this experience. The presence, the listening, the crying with them, which have been fueling us in these days and for what is yet to come. There is a lot of pain, a lot of stories, a lot of situations that are hurting us too, but the opportunity to touch all this is a grace, an experience that we are not worthy of. It is an experience of encounter with Christ himself and in a concrete way it is an opportunity to live in our own bodies and soul that Christ is our Peace.”

Like Isnayde, Małgorzata Kopana, who is Polish and lives as a Young Missionary in the city of Warsaw, has also had a particular experience with welcoming refugees from Ukraine. For her, they renew people’s hope and express something that often surprises her: a strength marked by gratitude. Even though they do not believe that they can return to their homes and resume their lives, the refugees open themselves up to the new and are willing to start over.



Warning: Comments are the responsibility of the authors and do not represent the opinion of the Shalom Community. It is forbidden to post comments that violate law, morality and good manners or that violate the rights of others. The editors may delete comments that do not comply with the criteria set forth in this notice or that are not within the topic with no notification.

O seu endereço de e-mail não será publicado. Campos obrigatórios são marcados com *.

Your email address will not be published.