Szesnastolatek wskoczył do rzeki i uratował dwoje tonących dzieci. Pomagało mu jeszcze inny dwóch chłopców. Jako jedyny, przy wsparciu stojącego na brzegu kolegi, pospieszył na ratunek, mimo że w tym miejscu kąpało się i wypoczywało wiele osób.
Obaj jeżdżą na wózkach inwalidzkich. Działają w Fundacji Pomocy Osobom Niepełnosprawnym. Przekonują, że życie na wózku nie musi być tragedią. Pomagają innym niepełnosprawnym, wyciągają ich z domów. Prowadzą zajęcia integracyjne dla młodszych i starszych, w świetlicach, szkołach oraz w ośrodkach sportu i kultury.
Chałupki to wieś składająca się z 14 domów. 3 marca 2012 r. wieczorem w pobliżu Szczekocin k. Zawiercia (woj. śląskie) zderzyły się czołowo dwa pociągi. Mieszkańcy Chałupek dotarli na miejsce katastrofy jako pierwsi, zanim zjawiły się służby. Ratowali ludzi, wyciągali ze zmiażdżonych pociągów, trzymali za ręce, dodawali otuchy, przynosili koce i ciepłą herbatę. Wykazali się ogromnym bohaterstwem i fantastyczną postawą wobec poszkodowanych. Mieszkańcy wsi po wydarzeniu sami zebrali pieniądze na pomnik upamiętniający ofiary katastrofy – 3 marca 2012 zginęło 16 osób, a blisko setka została ranna.
Urodzona w polskiej rodzinie w Raszkowie, wiosce położonej w separatystycznej Republice Naddniestrzańskiej, części Mołdawii odizolowanej od Europy. W wiosce większość mieszkańców ma pochodzenie polskie. Pani Natalia wychowuje dwójkę dzieci, z wykształcenia jest pielęgniarką, obecnie studiuje psychologię na Uniwersytecie w Tiraspolu. Posiada Kartę Polaka. Od 2006 r. jest Prezesem Stowarzyszenia Kultury Polskiej „Jasna Góra” w Tiraspolu. Od lat w bardzo trudnych warunkach administracyjno-politycznych działa na rzecz ochrony polskiego ducha i polskich wartości na obczyźnie. Po wielu latach udało się jej zorganizować pierwszy w historii przekaz kultury polskiej w Tiraspolu, rozpocząć remont cmentarza polskiego z przełomu XVII/XVIII w., stworzyć Wielokulturowy Dom Polski, zorganizować obóz dla dzieci w Polsce, warsztaty językowe polskiego czy wydanie albumu o Polakach w Naddniestrzu.
Maciej Grzybek was born in 1987. He lives in Lublin and loves sport: windsurfing, sailing, skiing and snowboarding. He urges all his friends to stay active and helps them improve their skills.
He studied genetics in the UK and parasitology and biology at the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin. He holds a Master’s Degree with Honours. Presently he is enrolled in a PhD program. For the Jan Rodowicz “Anoda” Award, Maciej has been nominated by his future wife – Anna.
Out of an urge to help other people he completed courses in qualified first aid. He always carries a rescue mask and gloves with him and a first aid bag in his car. His involvement in helping others shows how differently we perceive our surroundings. Many times Maciej has saved people’s lives when others walked by indifferently without realizing that something was wrong.
One summer at a camp ground on the Hel Peninsula four men were carrying a catamaran. No one at the beach even raised their eyes; no one noticed anything when the boat’s mast touched the power line. The men have gotten very badly burnt. The camp ground was full. Maciej overheard someone pondering over getting help for the injured. He never has second thoughts – he always acts. He jumped up and ran for his medical equipment bag. He was helping all three of them – the men suffered third degree burns. He called the ambulance. He also spotted someone standing in waist deep water behaving strangely. That was the fourth man, who waded into the water in shock. When the fire fighters came they were at a loss. Without thinking Maciej started asking them to carry out specific actions. One person required CPR. Maciej saved the men. Were he not at the camp that day and knew what to do, this story would not have had a happy ending.
For his winter holidays Maciej went skiing in the mountains. After many hours skiing on the slopes Maciej returned to the hotel. Exhausted he sat down in his room without taking his skiing clothes off, when a friend came in and told him that someone might be drowning at the pool. No one at the hotel knew what to do. Maciej immediately ran to the pool area and without a second thought jumped into the water in his skiing clothes. Out of the water he got an unconscious French woman. A lifeguard was standing right by the pool paralysed with fear. He should have started the rescue earlier. But he was not, as it turned out later, fully qualified. Maciej took his CPR set and stimulated the woman’s heart. The entire hotel, the management, the lifeguards and afterwards the French woman herself thanked Maciej for what he did.
Maciej is not a professional rescuer, but always responds when the need arises. A woman at the pool, a woman at a bus stop, an older man in the street - he never leaves anyone without help. He always stops and at least raises the person’s spirits. This is his passion and duty as a human being, he says. Maciej talked Anna into taking a first aid course. “Once on a bus with Maciej I spotted a man who needed help. No one else saw him. I knew what to do only thanks to Maciej. The man was having a heart attack, we stopped the bus, even though the driver was not willing to do so, called for help, gave the man first aid. A few months ago we rescued a suicide who was drowning in a canal. I myself started seeing more in my surroundings. Some people say that my husband attracts accidents but I know that everyone witnesses the same number of situations, but Maciej recognizes them and tries to change the course of events” – says the wife of Maciej Grzybek. Maciej himself would like to establish a rescue team in Lublin; his dream is to finish a course to become first aid instructor.
Janusz Świtaj was born in 1975 in Wałbrzych and grew up as the only child. His father Henryk Świtaj worked as a miner, while his mother Helena Świtaj kept the house. When Janusz was six years old, together with his parents they moved to Jastrzębie Zdrój. There he completed elementary school and entered a vocational school specialising in mining machines and devices.
In 1993 he had a motorcycle accident and became completely paralysed. Janusz can use only his eyes and mouth. He cannot breathe unassisted – he is permanently connected to a respirator. He suffers pain, which the available painkillers cannot relieve. The first six years after the accident Janusz spent at a hospital intensive care unit, but after a respirator had been bought with the support from the Social Aid Foundation in Jastrzębie Zdrój in 1999, he was transferred home. Leaving the intensive care unit to move in with his parents again, being so severely disabled he considers breaking one of the main barriers in his life. For the past 19 years Janusz has been cared for 24 hours a day by his parents who are retired. For several years Helena and Henryk Świtaj have been medical doctors, physiotherapists and massage therapists for their son. They saved his life several times by applying artificial respiration when the power outage turned off the respirator which breathes for Janusz.
In 2007 Janusz has publicly asked for the life support equipment to be disconnected when his parents become unable to care for him or when one of them dies – which provoked a national discussion on the right to discontinue persistent therapy and forced the society to reconsider the situation of paralysed persons. Anna Dymna, who heads a foundation assisting disabled persons called “Mimo wszystko”, became interested in Janusz’s story and as a result Janusz started working for the foundation as an internet analyst of the disabled people job market and fundraiser. Thanks to support from other people and from the foundation Janusz received a special wheelchair and a car and could leave his house for the first time after many years. An assistant paid from a targeted benefit fund granted by the Social Aid Centre in Jastrzębie Zdrój started helping Janusz’s parents care for him.
Janusz has been actively helping disabled persons; becoming among other the ambassador of the “Let’s vote” campaign to break down barriers preventing disabled persons from participating in the election. He wrote a book “12 Breaths a Minute”, which he had been typing out for seven years on a computer keyboard with a pencil held in his mouth. His autobiography is a tribute to all parents, who take care of disabled children. In 2010 Janusz graduated from high school and started psychological studies. For the past several years he has been running his own internet page: www.switaj.eu. In May 2012 along with seven disabled persons he led a K2 expedition, during which they climbed the Kościuszko Mound in Krakow, which for a person confined to wheelchair is comparable to an able body person climbing an eight-thousander.
Currently Janusz has been sending letters to the Polish Prime Minister and the Ministry of Health requesting an assistant for every housebound person with severe disability and asking them to review the financial aspect of this difficult and responsible work. A documentary about Janusz has been filmed entitled “A Stubborn Desire for Life”, which is a testimony of how with the right outside help and support one can successfully cope with severe disability and study, work and even help others. “Following such difficult experiences and 15 years of isolation from the world.
I appreciate each day which I can plan and spend outside. I know how to be happy with the little scraps of good which are left for me” – says the winner of the Jan Rodowicz “Anoda” Award.