Something ends, something begins – The summary of our activities in 2019, part I

Jan 4, 2020 | Construction of houses, Great job, Stories of survivors

I will start the summary from the beginning of the year, but I will not be strictly chronological.

In the first part I will say what has changed within the foundation and our closest environment. In the second part I will try to sum up the results of our work.

About us

Just a year ago I was dividing my time between paid work and activities in the foundation. I was coming back home to sit in front of the computer. On weekends, I was going to fundraisings, and I was spending my holidays in Iraq. It was not always easy, and definitely not very effective. There are only 24 hours in a day. I had to give up something. So in January 2019 I became the only full-time employee of the Eaglewatch Foundation. Many things have changed in my life, but I do not regret those changes.

I devoted the first months to issues the effects of which were visible only after some time. Together with our volunteer Wojtek we were working on the new website. I was preparing articles and pictures, he was creating the whole template from scratch. The website came to life in September. There were more of such mundane issues. A new leaflet, a new booklet describing the Eaglewatch’s activities, several essays and summaries of our work. It was a grassroots work in order to allow us to present our mission to the wider public.
In January we focused on the settlement of the project of the purchase of livestock for 80 families, which was completed at the end of 2018. We received a funding for that purpose amounting to 714 000 PLN (about 187 000 USD) from the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland (KPRM). You can read more about the project below.

It was not an easy task – paperwork is our weakest point. But at the end we succeeded. At the same time, in cooperation with Andrzej and Paulina, we applied for other funding which we received in September. I will write more about it the following part.

In January Darek put on his uniform again and joined the 7th Pomerian Brigade of Territorial Defense. He was a professional soldier in the Polish Army for many years. He retired, but he evidently missed walking dressed in green. During his entire service in WOT (the Territorial Defense Force) he was active in the foundation as well, trying to tame our bureaucratic chaos. Moreover, he travelled all over Poland, speaking about our mission and collecting money in over a dozen parishes, from the sea to the mountains. In February he will return to civilian life and to fundraising travels – he has already planned a few for the next year.
After the accounting of the above-mentioned project was finished, Bartek Rutkowski decided to go to Egypt. Not for holidays and well-deserved rest, but to take a look at the situation of families that lost their relatives in attacks carried out by the Islamic State. In 2015, 21 men were murdered by terrorists on the shores of Libya. They were workers from Egypt who went there to earn money to support their families. Bartek also visited, among others, a church in Cairo where 29 people died in an attack in 2016, and Alexandria, where 15 people were murdered.
During Bartek’s stay in Egypt and shortly after his return we provided support to three families that lost relatives in the attacks. We helped, among others, a woman who lost a husband and became close to losing her home as well (if two modest rooms, one of which was occupied by a cow – the woman’s only property – can be called as such).

Several days after coming back Bartek went to Brussels to collect funds for further activities.

In April we celebrated the third birthday of our foundation. But there were neither fireworks nor big party. We sat in the evening with beers in our hands wondering how we were managing to do all that. None of us had ever thought that our activities would develop so much.

Z WODY W PIACH

Our own YouTube series in which we talk about how the foundation was created, our activities and the current situation of people that we are aiding (only in Polish for now).

In August we recorded the first episode of „Z wody w piach” (From water to the sand). It is our own YouTube series in which we talk about how the foundation was created, our activities and the current situation of people that we are aiding. Where does the series’ title come from? Bartosz Rutkowski, the founder of the foundation, spent most of his service in the Polish Army as a diver. He left the army to help victims of ISIS in the Middle East. I think no further explanation is needed. Obviously, it is just the beginning and we will be continuing this form of publicity. We have no experience in such productions, but we try to make sure that every episode includes information that you may find interesting (only in Polish for now).

Trips

Our first visit to Iraq in 2019 took place in August. Apart from Bartek, the team included Dorota and Krzysztof Błechow as well as Andrzej Ochał. The first two are the representatives of the Children Help Foundation in Żywiec which has been supporting our various projects from the beginning. Andrzej is a former soldier of the Foreign Legion and a widely understood social activist. He is passionate about finding archives and documenting the history of his hometown Prabuty. After coming back from Iraq he wrote a book „Orla Straż. Kiedy świat udaje, że nie widzi” (The Eaglewatch. When the world pretends not to see), presenting his take on the situation of the victims of ISIS and the Eaglewatch’s activities.

Next came my turn. In October I visited Iraq twice. During the first visit I was accompanied by Bartek Piaseczny who has been working with is for some time. He organized one fundraising, and he participated in another one as a volunteer. Then I went to Iraq with the Caritas Polska team which helped us implement the project of distribution of milk powder for children living in wild camps in Iraqi Kurdistan.

In December I went to Iraq with Bartek and Anrzej Rzepecki. Not long time ago you could read about that trip on our website. I invite you to have a look, if you have not yet done so.

Sometimes we need to help thousands of people, another time it is just one person

We have already come back home and immediately got back to work. Now we need to write financial statements for our projects and make preparations for other activities.
I guess I have left out many topics and events that took place in 2019. But I am unable to write about all of them here. Anyone who follows our activities knows that much happened last year. God knows how much will happen in the coming year. I invite you to read the second part where I recount completed projects and our goals for the next 12 months.

See also:

Something ends, something begins – The summary of our activities in 2019, part II

In 2019 we opened 19 new workplaces, and three more are in progress. The newly-opened ones include, among others, 3 tailor shops, 4 hairdresser salons and 2 small grocery stores. Since 2017 we have managed to open 56 workplaces in total.

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