Transnistria: Polish village in a forgotten land

Transnistria is a separatist republic that broke away from Moldova after the fall of USSR. Transistrians then were much more Russianized and linked to the Soviet tradition that pro-Romanian Moldovans. Because of that the war between those two countries broke out in 1992, the Russian stabilization forces entered the area of Transnistria in the end of that conflict and remained there till today. There were 1000 people killed in the war from the total 500 000 citizens. The state is currently recognised only by the the self-proclaimed republics of Abhkazia and South Ossetia, who have their embassies in Transnistria. No member state of the United Nations recognise the independence of Transnistria. Transnistrian GDP per capita was 2076 USD in 2013 – this is more or less the level of Kenya or Papua New Guinea.

The reason for us to visit this ‘forgotten’ part of Europe was the village Swoboda – Raszkow. It is a place from which the family of our volunteer – Anna came from. And it was her to tell us that Swoboda – Raszkow was originated by Poles in the 17 hundreds and that descendants of those people still feel the Polish identity. We were also advised that the Polish heritage would not survive there without the help of the Catholic church. The Polish missionaries from the the Sacred Heart of Jesus congregation has been taking care of the local Parish for decades. It is also the church and in fact the local rector who organizes any kind of aid for the local Polish families in Swoboda – Raszkow.

There are about 700 people living in Swoboda – Raszkow, most of them share the Polish background and the Catholic faith, which is unusual for Transnistria, where the dominant religion is Russian Orthodox. The living conditions in the village are hard, mostly because of the lack of the pawed roads and water supply. It is also pretty difficult to find any job other than farming – the nearest industrial city Rybnica is too far to travel there daily. Yet, some people (men mostly) leave the family for the week days for work and come back to Swoboda – Raszkow for the weekends. The good things are the climate and the fertile soil, which let people eat what they grow.

Rector of the local Saint Martha’s parish – father Marcin Januś – truly charmed us with his passion and devotion to the local community. After a few hours together we were already sure that we want to deliver help to the people in Swoboda – Raszkow. We were especially inspired by the things that father Marcin does for the local children. He operates the local kindergarten with the help of donors from different parts of Europe. Together with the local Polish language teacher Antonina he also organizes the singing and dancing lessons for children and teenagers. Those lessons are great opportunity for the young people to learn Polish culture and tradition. It gives them a possibility to travel and perform outside of their home village as well.

After we came back from Transnistria we decided to focus on two tasks. Firstly to help father Marcin and Antonina with dancing classes by buying and sending them the Polish folk costumes suitable for children. Secondly by looking for the sponsors to support the kindergarten.

If you wish to help Poles in Swoboda – Raszkow you can make donation to one of our accounts:

PL26 1750 0012 0000 0000 4082 1503 (for USD)
PL82 1750 0012 0000 0000 4082 1465 (for Polish Zloty)

bank name- Raiffeisen Polbank
SWIFT CODE: RCBWPLPW

Receiver’s name – Fundacja Polscy Przodkowie
Receiver’s address – Zwolenska 40A/2, 04-761 Warszawa, POLAND
Transfer title: donation for the statutory goals – Transnistira