By Zofia Ciołek
“I can’t rate it. It was something I have never experienced before. Nothing ever kept me on adrenaline for so long,” said Zuzanna K., grade 10, describing her experience participating in Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy, (known colloquially as WOŚP).
2019 was the first year that ASW students participated in Poland’s most widely recognised charity event. Many students in Poland participate in this event every year. However, students from ASW had never before managed to convince the school to let them go and collect money for the cause. This year, however, all was changed when, with the initiative of Julia I. from 10th grade, a group of high school students rushed out onto the streets of Warsaw on the 13th of January in order to collect money for sick kids all around Poland.
“I got the idea when I realized that I could no longer join my previous school volunteer group. I really wanted to be a volunteer this year too so I decided to start this in ASW,” Julia said when asked about why she decided to organise the group event. “There were many formal procedures. We were collecting and filling out documents already in November. All the volunteers had to be registered and approved by the organization. Afterwards I had to go make the ID cards and fold the cans for everybody.”
The students went out in groups in order to gather funds all around the city. Zuzanna K. recalled that they went to Koszyki and the Plac Konstytucji area as all the shops were closed on Sunday. They stayed out from 10:00 to 17:00 even though it was raining all day. “I didn’t even notice it since I was running on such doses of adrenaline,” she said. “It was one of the most memorable charitable experiences in my life.”
The 27 ASW students raised over 32 000 Zloty. The students had also collected foreign currency and even jewelry, which they will know the value of as soon as the bank that they had given it to determines it.
“I am really hoping to get to do this again next year,” stated Julia. “Maybe next time we will have more volunteers and people engaged in organizing this event.”
The good spirits caused by this annual fundraiser vanished when news sources from all over the country erupted with the day’s most unexpected and tragic event: the mayor of Gdańsk had been attacked during the WOŚP celebration in his city. He had been stabbed three times by a twenty seven year-old man who had already been registered in breaking the law and had even served a sentence in prison. This shook everyone to the core since nobody expected such an event to occur during a day of such celebration.
As a result of the incident Jurek Owsiak stepped down from the role as the leader of WOŚP, as he stated that he felt that he was responsible for what happened.
Zuzanna K. said, “I first noticed the black and white profile picture on WOŚP’s facebook and then found out about the tragic death of the Gdańsk president and the resignation of Owsiak. At the moment I was shook but I was even more angry, sad, but most of all helpless. I could not believe how a few seconds changed so much energy and love into mourning.”
Zuzanna says she has a hard time imagining the future of WOŚP without Owsiak. She was also concerned that even if the organisation could recover, it wouldn’t be able to raise the same amount of money that it could before due to the now bad connotations. “I hope that the organization will just keep growing and that the next finals will be even grander, but I am extremely terrified that this was my first and my last final.”