Where else could we go to, except to the same place we received help at before? We were hoping for the second chance, relying on those who we called friends to support us again. We travelled straight to Rzeszow, to the same family where we stayed for a while, the family that helped us so much a few years back.
But, we probably expected too much from that one family. When we appeared at their door, with two little kids and me pregnant, Ewa, who opened the door, said ‘one, two, three’, pointing towards our girls and my belly. Evidently, they didn’t expect us there at all.
They invited us to come in and have a meal together. But then they said they would be able to help us no more, as they already did enough in the past. They advised us to go and stay in a hotel. We said goodbye to each other, left, found a cheap hotel, and stayed there for a few days.
We had no idea what to do next, and where to go. Vlad suggested going to Warsaw, as there might be more chance in the capital, and there were a lot of charities. We got on a train and went to Warsaw. I need to mention that that time we didn’t take too much luggage with us. We needed to watch our girls first of all, not the bags.
I wrote earlier that we had dollars with us from selling the flat in Astrakhan. We decided to take a risk and rent a property in Warsaw. We approached one agency, who had a three-bedroom partially furnished flat for $300 per month. They agreed to rent it to us.
I must say that having money was giving us some sense of security. We weren’t so scared like the previous time. We had a hope to find some work for Vlad. We were trying and asking around, yet nothing was coming up. To the end of the month we realised that the flat was too expensive and we could no longer stay there.
We found another agency who offered a one-bedroom flat not far from the centre, for $150 per month, but paid in advance for 6 months as the landlady was going to Greece and needed an advance payment. We were ok with that, and took the offer.
The flat was very small, but at least we had a roof over our head, and half of year ahead of us. We decided to buy a used car, hoping that owing a car would open some earning opportunity. But it wasn’t meant to happen, and any enquiries about jobs were met with suspicions. No one wanted to hire a foreigner.
My term to give birth to our third child quickly approached, and I was admitted to a hospital. Next day, our last child Daniela was born. Girl again, but I was happy to have her, she was very cute with dark curly hair. In a few days I was discharged, and Vlad came to pick me up in our old car, with the other two girls.
I need to mention that while I was staying in a hospital, two Jehovah’s Witnesses came to visit the landlady as they did before. But she probably didn’t tell them about going abroad. Vlad opened the door, they introduced themselves, and he said that he didn’t believe in God, but his wife did, and invited them to come over again.
So, when all our family were together again, those sisters visited me. They were talking about wonderful things about the future, about God’s Kingdom that would replace this wicked and corrupt system, and everlasting life on a paradise Earth. I believed everything they said, it sounded so good, even too good to be true, but they supported everything with the Bible, which I trusted to be God’s word. They actually opened my eyes.
But the time was going quickly, and we had to find another solution to stay in Poland. We decided to go to Home Office and submit an asylum claim. We did just so, and received a place in a refugee camp. We then packed our belongings into the car, notified the agency, and soon were on our way to Nadarzyn where the camp was situated.
On our arrival, we were given a place in a large shared room with other new comers. It was very inconvenient to be there with small kids, we needed a separate room, but they made us to wait for a week before a suitable room became available. Finally, we got one with four single beds, and they gave us a cot for Dani as she was just a few months old.
There were people from everywhere in that camp, but we were attracted more to refugees from a former USSR. There were a few there, from Georgia, Armenia, and Russia. And we always had an occasion to talk to them and share our experiences. There were also two sisters from the local congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses, and I started Bible study with them.
The living conditions in the camp weren’t that bad, but the food wasn’t sufficient. The portions were quite small, and me and Vlad gave our meat portions to the girls, and ate only potatoes or pasta, whatever was served with meat. Soon, we felt very hungry and even lost weight. Also, we didn’t really like to be on a full maintenance. Vlad wanted to work.
Someone told us that there was a better opportunity in Czech Republic, there were also refugee camps there, but it was possible to find work there. We were tempted to leave the Polish camp and go to Czech Republic. We were also fed up of being hungry all the time. After careful consideration, we took a decision to travel to Prague and claim asylum there. So, we notified the authorities about our decision to withdraw our asylum claim, and in a few days left the camp.