Wisconsin native helps Ukrainian refugees in Poland

LODZ, POLAND (WBAY) — A Wisconsin native is now helping Ukrainian refugees seeking refuge in Poland, where he is retired in Lodz.

John Kowalski, a 69-year-old retired pediatrician, lives thousands of miles from his hometown of Wagner in Marinette County. He is a graduate of Wausaukee High School who went on to study at UW Madison before moving to Poland to study medicine. It was there that he met his wife.

He practiced pediatric medicine in Chicago for several years, but decided to return to Poland in 2020.

“I still pretend to be a Wisconsinite and not a Chicago person,” Kowalski said.

Friends of Kowalski asked him if he would change his retirement plans and return to the United States now that there is a war next to him. He said no.

“I look at what the Polish people are doing to help. They do so amazing. They are so hospitable, so open. the help they started was spontaneous,” Kowalski said. “I was like, ‘I can’t just sit here and do nothing.’

Last Saturday, Kowalski joined a church foundation offering its ProEM Youth camp in the village of Zakosciele as a temporary place to stay for Ukrainian refugees.

He volunteered his time to prepare meals as he claims to be at least 200 refugees. The foundation also helps refugees find accommodation and obtain the necessary papers.

He said he will continue to help wherever and whenever he can, and he expects the Polish people to do the same.

“I guess I have the same heart as them,” Kowalski said.

John says a religious camp near his home in Poland helps refugees find accommodation and obtain documents.

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