New Zealand's First Refugees: Pahiatua's Polish Children
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