Other Countries Of Refuge
Of the 20,000 children evacuated from the Soviet Union in 1942, only 733 Polish children found refuge in New Zealand. The remainder were scattered around the world to Mexico, India, Canada, Lebanon and East Africa. Not wishing to offend Stalin who was an ally at the time and a cosignatoyr of the Yalta Agreement, the US would not take them.
The children were taken to a camp in Santa Rosa and cared for by the Felician nuns of Chicago. After the war, they filtered through to the US and did not form a coherent group as did refugee children in other parts of the world.
The largest camp in India was in Balachadi near Jamnagar under the care of Father Franciszek Pluta and the almost fatherly care of Maharajah Jam Saheba. The camp was liquidated after the assassination of Mahatma Ghandi in 1948, so all foreigners were forced to leave India. The children joined the Polish orphans scattered in camps from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, to Kenya and Uganda in East Africa. As they grew up, the children migrated mainly to the UK to join their surviving relatives, take up studies or work.
The refugees in Lebanon are a separate chapter in the orphaned children's odyssey and much has also been written about them. They consisted of older children scattered in hilly villages and townships where they were made welcome by the local population.
The largest orphan camp was in Tengeru, Tanzania, in the neighbourhood of the twin mountains of Kilimanjaro and Meru in the middle of a jungle by the crystal waters of Lake Duluti. Other groups from liquidated camps elsewhere were progressively transferred here. In 1949, the camp was finally liquidated and the children taken to Canada. This move was manoeuvred by the Soviet-dominated authorities in Poland, which expected to more page 352easily have the children returned to Poland against the children's and their guardians' expressed wishes. Their memories of oppression in Soviet Russia were still fresh. Most of the children were too young to go their own way.
There were many other camps in Africa, such as the camp in Rongai, Kenya, which was entirely for the smaller children where they lived for seven years.
After the gift of life, the most precious is that of freedom. The children's formative years were under the shadow of freedom-curtailing despots, such as Hitler and Stalin. And even though they had lost their Polish homeland and were scattered to the four winds, they retained their thousand-year-old culture and Christian values.
Source: Stolen Childhood: A Saga of Polish War Children by Father Łucjan Królikowski
Polish refugee children in a camp in Tangeru, Tanzania, take part in choir practice in front of a dormitory. The roof was covered in banana tree leaves or elephant grass, which were chomped by termites day and night. Jadwiga Dźwiniel (front row, 9th from right, next to girl holding song sheet) eventually joined her sisters in New Zealand