I love it when Facebook is used to share something positive, something touching and something brave. To think that by clicking the tiny hyperlink “share” you can influence and inspire someone else, the hundreds of someone elses you have in your list of friends and possibly their friends and their friends. My parents used to tell us about the ripple effect – dropping a tiny pebble in a lake will have ripples that spread far, ever widening, influencing the surface of the water seemingly endlessly.
This story has been making the rounds which I read about in McDonald’s over a double cheeseburger. The beauty of the internet and a smartphone.
Irena Sendler (née Krzyżanowska) was born 15 January, 1910, and was a Roman Catholic who became, many years later, the saviour of some 2,500 Jewish children (an estimate as the exact number is unknown) and even some babies during World War II’s persecution of their people in her native Poland. She and her co-workers wrote names and details on paper and then buried them in jars so they could reunite them with their families after the war. Sadly, when this task was begun, most of the parents had died in concentration camps, a fate which almost certainly would have befallen the children themselves.
Before this, Irena’s father was a doctor who treated the Jews many other doctors ignored, and when he died Jewish community leaders paid for her education. During her further education at the Warsaw University, she was suspended for not following Jewish segregation rules.
And after her life-saving smuggling, she was tortured and sentenced to death by the Gestapo, a death she only escaped by bribing her executioners. Then she continued her work in hiding.
She was honoured for her work several times, at one time one of the children she had saved collected the award of behalf of the then-frail Irena, but said humbly, “Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this Earth, and not a title to glory.” She also is reportedly repeatedly to mention her co-workers.
Irena could hardly be called a small pebble in any lake, but her ripples more than touched many innocent children’s lives and continue to inspire and invoke awe at what a woman can do in this world.
More: read about Life in a Jar: the Irena Sendler Project here, an inspirational work of women in itself