In a heart-warming gesture, a Muslim Tatar restaurant serves meals to the migrants stuck in the biting cold of Poland forests.
The restaurant is owned by Lilla Swierblewska, a minority Muslim Tatar from Eastern Poland. It was her earnest desire to do something for the helpless migrants near the Polish border.
Hundreds have been left stranded for weeks in Poland’s forests. Humanitarian agencies say at least 13 migrants have died at the border, where many have suffered in the cold with little food or water.
Giving wings to her dream, she is now able to mobilize the kitchen of a restaurant she opened in Bialystok a year ago and is cooking to support the cause. That said, she is preparing and delivering food to migrants who are trying to get into Poland while Polish Border Guards are trying to keep them out.
The food consists of dinners of turkey meatballs in carrot sauce and chicken with green beans, pasteurized and sealed in jars, then shipped to charities going to the forests of Poland to help migrants who have crossed from Belarus.
“I have to ask myself, what would I do in this situation? Would there be someone who would help me? Because I don’t know if tomorrow or in some years I won’t be in this kind of situation,” Swierblewska told the news agency.
Much of her mission is tied to her faith and her place in Poland’s ethnic minority Tatar community.
She said, “As Muslims, we should be helping, regardless of religion or where the person is from. We should just be helping those in need,” Swierblewska said.
Swierblewska, whose meals for migrants include no pork to respect their faith, is working with a charity called the Raft Association which in turn is collaborating with an Orthodox Church in Siemiatycze near the border to drive food to migrants in the forests.
She called on Poles not to be afraid of helping, adding that support to migrants was essential amidst a worsening societal divide driven by the Polish nationalist government’s policies.
Poland, a mostly Catholic, ethnically homogenous country, is run by the ruling Law and Justice party whose leader has inveighed against migration from the Middle East, saying migrants could bring diseases and parasites.