Monday, 24 August 2015

Catholic Women aid Lithuanians in Poland

In 1981 the Adelaide Lithuanian Catholic Women society contacted the United Lithuanian Relief Fund of America (Bendras Amerikos Lietuvių Fondas A Šalpos)  (BALFAS).  The society had decided that it would like to outreach to Lithuanians in the Suvalkija triangle.  Suwałki Region is a small region around the city of Suwałki in northeastern Poland near the border with Lithuania. The territory was disputed between Poland and Lithuania after World War II.

A Stepenienė from Adelaide knew that BALFAS had connections with that area and asked for families to contact.  BALFAS had for many years had been providing aid, mainly in the form of clothes.  Each month they sent 40-50 parcels of good clothes and food.

The letters written in Lithuanian usually gave an outline of the dire straits families were living in.  No specific requests were made, just asking for assistance.  In that year the society received about 32 letters, to which all were responded to.  The women collected clothing items, sorted into packages based on what was mentioned in the letters.  Clothing, shoes, coats, jumpers, ties and children’s clothes were packaged some up to 18 kg and posted.

The United Lithuanian Relief Fund of America has been able to assist thousands of Lithuanian refugees in Europe and elsewhere with some much needed food, clothing, and medicine. Significant aid and clothing contributions came from the Catholic hierarchy. The rest came mainly as personal donations from thousands of Lithuanians in numerous parishes, Clubs, and societies throughout the United States.

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