Read any guide on how to best integrate into a new community and one of the top tips will always be – VOLUNTEER! It makes perfect sense – you can meet new people, get an opportunity to bridge the gap from “expat” to “local”, develop and maintain skills (often when finding suitable work is difficult) and better understand the community in which you live.
Unfortunately, for most of us (despite our best efforts!) language remains a barrier. All too often it feels as if an event has come and gone in the time it has taken me to decipher the flyer.
Last year, I came across a Facebook event for a new foundation hoping to start operations in Kraków and was introduced to NoHate. NoHate was founded in Warsaw and has been providing services the homeless in Warsaw and Łódż for the last year. At the event I met a lot of passionate individuals from all over the world who wanted to contribute and connect to our community.
One of Kraków’s most well-known organisations, Zupa na Plantach, has been providing services to the homeless for three years. NoHate’s aim is to replicate their model, but with events organised in English for volunteers from the international community. Each week we meet, prepare soup and sandwiches, and deliver them to those in need.
The event is laid-back and fun. Over piles of potatoes to be peeled, onions to be chopped, and sandwiches to be made we connect with each other. We share our cultures through soup recipes. We work together to create something with love which we then get to share with Kraków’s most vulnerable citizens.
The homeless problem in Kraków is perhaps one of its most visible. But what we often fail to see are the individuals involved – each with their own story, background, and aspirations. Some made bad choices, some were dealt a bad hand in life, some have no other options. A small act of kindness, a warm meal, a smile, a conversation, all go a long way to make someone feel valued. It is wonderful to share in this experience.
NoHate’s mission: “With the ultimate goal of helping the people in need, NoHate aspires to bring the lived reality of suffering and loneliness to public attention and sensitize the world around to put an end to social stigmas. Inspired by the local communities in need, we focus on creating genuine moments of connection that inspire them to become the best version of themselves. To feel worthy, accepted, and approved.”
NoHate Kraków meets every Saturday from 3 pm at Celna 5, Podgórze, to prepare soup and make sandwiches. We move to the Planty to serve food around 6:30 pm between Słowacki Theatre and the Barbican. Feel free to contact me for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org
Zupa na Plantach meets at the same times and places every Sunday. Predominantly Polish speaking but always happy to host English speaking volunteers.
Other volunteering opportunities in English:
Collaborate Kraków! Excellent starting point for any volunteer opportunity search, they gather together and promote opportunities for volunteering. “Our aim is to bring together foreigners and locals, to share and create opportunities for networking and getting involved in the local community.”
Rethinking Refugees – organises events locally to raise awareness of the refugee crisis across the world.
KTOZ Krakowskie Towarzystwo Opieki nad Zwierzętami – volunteering at an animal shelter – they recently held an event for English speaking volunteers together with Collaborate Kraków!
Serve the City – an international group organising volunteer events and activities across 50 different cities. The Kraków branch is not very active at the moment, but I am sure it would be open to any suggested projects. “We believe many people doing small things can make a big difference.” The Serve the City 2020 International Forum is being held in Kraków on 22–25 October and may require volunteers.