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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Goodbye Ukraine

Once again I am at the train station in Lviv, between trains, on my way back to Krakow. Marcus and Marielena from the volunteer group are here, too, also headed to Poland, but Warsaw, where they both have been living and where they met each other. Marcus is Swiss, Marielena Italian. I never had a chance to introduce the group, a bunch of dedicated and interesting people. Perhaps at some point further down the line, although that might feel too strange. It's been a series of goodbyes since yesterday afternoon, always difficult after living and working with people so closely.

But right now I want to bring up the issue of continuance of clearing and maintenence of the cemetery, which I see has been discussed quite a bit on the Cz list. First of all, it is very gratifiying to see all the attention our project has gotten, from people in the city, the press, and people with strong connections to and opinions about the project. I do not disagree with the people who brought up the issue of maintenence, etc. We discussed this as a group repeatedly, with Mimi and before and after she was there.

Hopefully, the cemetery staff and the city will continue to support the work. The staff does do some maintence, worked wonderfully well together with us, and hopefully will stay motivated. There is still so much more to clear. There is already talk about a bigger volunteer project involving both local and international volunteers.

I would hope, but can't say, that the cemetery staff is familiar with how to treat the roots. I have to say that all this discussion about roots makes me very happy, because what I spent most of the two weeks doing, while others were felling branches and entire trees, was to sit by a grave and pull the tenacious roots, following them to the source, which was sometimes a grave or two away. So I feel now that my work is validated, even though I didn't product the large quantities of brush that most of the others were hauling day after day.

This project has generated so much interest, it is amazing, and I hope and think the energy is there to have it continue. I think it would be helpful to have people who have family in the cemetery express their appreciation to Tetanya, who has the mayor's ear. I will see if I can locate her email address before I sign off, otherwise I will post it here later. And perhaps there is a way for people who will be visiting Cz in October to meet her. She was as impressed with our work as we were her helpfulness. I think she'd be impressed by the number of people who care about the cemetery. Also, for some reason, the Jewish community here (I mean there, as I am now gone) did not seem aware of the project, which puzzles me (and them.) But they now plan to have a group of students work there, hopefully on a regular basis.

To all of you who had requests to locate graves, information, etc. whose requests I was not able to fulfill, I am sorry. I would really liked to have, but there were two problems, dealing with the extremely overgrown condition of most of the cemetery, and also time. We were kept so busy by both the work and all the activities that were planned for us and that we were invited to, that there wasn't time to try to track down info.

I may continue on with more details of the sojourn, as I have time. And I will certainly write about our visits to Krakow, Auschwitz, and Prague in the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, Czernowitz has become a permanent part of my existence.

1 comment:

Debra said...

Joanna:

Thanks for sharing this incredible and emotional story. You tell it so well and I, personally, was deeply moved by it.

Hope you have a wonderful vacation with your family.

Deb