Homo Faber, from the Latin, means ‘man the maker,’ a worker who is occupied with repairing things every day. That man is not an artist but sometimes a visionary, and certainly a strategist.
20 years ago, the name for our organisation was given by Jacek Kuroń. In his book Rzeczpospolita dla moich wnuków (A Republic for my Grandchildren), this famous opposition figure pointed out that homo faber is someone who, acting from the bottom up, changes reality.
For 20 years of our operation in Lublin, we have supported people whose human rights and freedoms have not been respected. We have tried to make advocacy for systemic changes come in parallel with aid. We have not forgotten to give a voice to those who do not have one.
On 24 February, together with other organisations and the Lublin City Hall, we established a cross-sector humanitarian aid system. Thanks to those efforts, a city with a population of 300,000 has easily accommodated more than 1,200,000 female and male refugees from Ukraine. From the very beginning, it has been clear to us that only strong organisations and efficient institutions are able to work effectively and in the long term on a crisis.
Today, after 22 months of war in Ukraine, despite the great fatigue of the helpers, new crises and problems, and political changes, our team faces new challenges in full readiness and openness. During these 22 months, apart from the ongoing assistance to female and male refugees arriving in the city, we have been working towards systemic solutions. And so, in March this year, we launched the Baobab community centre – a place for integration and relationship building, with the following key services: legal assistance, psychological support, an information desk, language teaching, and craft workshops. More than 2,500 people visit us every month. It is a place for everyone: female and
male refugees and migrants, but also for the host community: Poles. It is clear to us that social inclusivity must take place with the participation of all actors.
We are presenting you the Annual Report on the activities of the Homo Faber Association in 2023, concerning the support system directed primarily at war female and male refugees from Ukraine. But that is not all – you will also find mentions of other activities we conducted, which complete the picture of our work for the local community of Lublin, both new and old residents of the city.
In recent months, in social organisations, we used to say that the reality we live in is somehow a permanent crisis. There are not only migratory movements triggered by wars, political instability in a given country or region, or political populism that contribute to it, but also climate catastrophe, pandemics. The lessons of good organisation of civil society, of local communities, can and should be the basis for reorganising crisis management and lead to the implementation of solutions that were not so obvious before. New challenges require new ideas for action.
We hope that our report will provide not only a worthy summary of our work but also an inspiration for people looking for solutions they could implement in their cities and towns – governors, civil servants, activists, academics....
President of the Homo Faber Association