Sad Background of “Words of Thanks” from Ukrainian Displaced Persons Interviewed | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Sad Background of “Words of Thanks” from Ukrainian Displaced Persons Interviewed

Nonfiction writer Takehide Mizutani reports on a refugee center in Poland.

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE
Harasim, 44, is a Canadian man born in Ukraine. He offered his help free of charge, saying, “I can be your interpreter.

The full-scale invasion of the Russian army in Ukraine has brought about 2.36 million refugees (as of March 30, according to the UN) to Poland. Many volunteers from various countries have rushed to the area.

In late March, I was interviewing evacuees at the central station in Krakow, an ancient city in southern Poland with beautiful cityscapes. I came across a white-haired foreign woman pushing a huge supermarket basket by hand and handing out sweets to the evacuees. When I introduced myself as a Japanese journalist, she told me, ” I’m an Italian freelance journalist too. My name is Sofia.” But she seemed to be a volunteer. When I asked her what was going on, she explained.

I came to the site with the intention of doing some reporting, but when I saw the devastation of the refugees, I decided to volunteer. I will continue as long as there is a need from them, until the war is over.”

Every day while I was going to the central station, I saw Sophia at some point. Eventually, I asked her, ” are you coming too?” She approached me and went with her to buy bread and bananas for the supply. It was worth it. She introduced me to other volunteers and the person in charge of the site. They are all available for interviews in English, but not so with the displaced people.

Before I left Japan on March 22, one of my concerns was the language barrier. I was told by Japanese people living in the capital, Kiev, that

“People in Ukraine speak very little English.

I had been told that the “I’m not a good person to go to the airport. However, reports from the BBC and other foreign media had shown that young Ukrainian refugees were being interviewed in English, so I honestly thought that I would be able to manage once I got there. I was also a little optimistic because of my long experience in the Philippines, where I had been reporting for many years.

However, when I approached the evacuees, most of them shook their heads and gestured ” I don’t speak English,” and my firsthand feeling was that only 1 to 2 out of 10 evacuees were able to converse in English. Naturally, this makes it impossible to conduct interviews.

At such a time, a volunteer acted as an interpreter by my side. Daria (28) , a young Ukrainian woman living in Poland, is one of them and speaks fluent English. After she gave me a rundown of the current situation of the displaced people, I confided in her, ” I have difficulty interviewing displaced people in English,” to which she replied, ” So shall I translate for you now?” He responded immediately. She acted as if it was a matter of course that she would do so, and I was afraid to do the opposite.

In the central square of Krakow, with its towering brick cathedral, I met Mr. Harasim, 44, a Ukrainian-born Canadian man . It was during a meeting of displaced people in the square. Although he was not a displaced person, he attended the rally, heartbroken by the devastation in his native land, and with microphone in hand, he appealed, “I am not a displaced person, but I am a Canadian man.

We couldn’t imagine being here in Poland until just a month ago,” he said. Our beautiful city was destroyed by bombs, people were killed, even children were killed. I can’t believe that such a terrible thing can happen in the 21st century.”

Then, in the middle of his speech, he suddenly started speaking Japanese. Perhaps it was because he noticed my presence as I was taking pictures nearby. When I spoke to him after the rally, he told me that he had visited Japan only twice on vacation and had studied Japanese on his own.

He asked me, “Would you like me to translate for you?” He said, “I’m not a good person.

I want the world to know more about this war.

In the end, Mr. Harasim was also able to interpret for me in Japanese and English chanpon . Moreover, when the interview was over, for some reason, Mr. Harasim told me

Thank you.”

They would thank him for his time and effort.

It is not only him. A refugee also told me, ” thank you for coming to Ukraine,” and another refugee even gave me a card expressing his gratitude. I have to admit that I was puzzled by that. Since I was the one who was being interviewed, I should have been the one to thank them. Nevertheless, I felt that behind the words “thank you” that they said, their desire to convey the reality of the war and the warmth of the Ukrainian people were exuding from their words.

A displaced woman participating in the demonstration. She was repeatedly thanked by the displaced people for coming.
Some of the refugees performed live on the streets to bring some comfort to the bleak environment.
  • Interview, text, and photos Takehide Mizutani

Photo Gallery3 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles