- Be safe and belong
- To make them better than others
- If I break through the glass ceiling, I won't take a ladder with me
- Helping - the light side of domination
- "The world is your family and the projects are your children"
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- Mrs. Anna, have a look! At 7:40 am I added a Facebook post saying that a girl from Madagascar needs financial help to learn. I was looking for only one person, it is 8:30 am, and three have already signed up - Daria Mejnartowicz greets me in such an enthusiastic way. A woman who goes out of her way to help women (but not only) all over the world.
The girl for whom she sought support through her social media profile is 9-year-old Claudia. Together with her 4-year-old sister Sarah (the girl had already received support), she was legally taken from her father, who raped both daughters. Their mother was most often at work - she earned a living as a prostitute among Chinese workers.
Today the sisters are under the care of the Akana Avoko Faravohitra center and thanks to the two sponsors Ms Daria has found, they have already started school. Being a student in Madagascar is a privilege that costs $ 70 a year and many cannot afford it.
- Sometimes I come across claims that why help someone on the other side of the world, if there are children in need also in Poland. Of course! And I help these children, every year I co-organize the Dream gift campaign, this is a Noble Package, only on a smaller scale and with a longer tradition. For me, helping has no borders on a specific continent, no race, views or religion. How can you refuse to help a person in need just because he is from another country or because he is praying to another god?Help fight breast cancer in Liberia!
Author: Private archive of Daria Mejnartowicz
Breast cancer is a very neglected issue in Liberia. "This is a problem of white women" - say Liberian women, for whom AIDS and malaria are their daily problems, and cancer is far behind … Even the leaflets prepared by Daria Mejnartowicz have been given a new look and the women in the illustrations have been painted from white to black so that the Liberian women can come back. identify with them more.
- Liberian women believe that only "white" women are affected by breast cancer, so it is largely ignored. There is little awareness of the problem. The result is that it is afflicteddisease, women report to a doctor with advanced stage cancer. Then nothing can be done except the amputation of the breasts. Usually, the patient dies a few weeks after the procedure, writes the initiator of the collection.
You will need: breast models and phantoms, projector, laptop (used), 40 '' TV, sports equipment, leaflets, banners, roll ups, learning aids for auto breast massage after mastectomy, rehabilitation aids for clinics, pink ribbons, notebooks, pens, scales, sports aids, etc. All funds from the collection will be donated for these purposes.
Be safe and belong
In the beginning, there was no help for Polish or foreign children, but for animals. It all started with homeless dogs, which little Daria collected from the neighborhood and secretly fed, watered, and sometimes - when her mother or aunt was not at home - she bathed and warmed in her apartment.
- In Maslow's hierarchy of needs, right behind the physiological needs are the needs of security and belonging. I didn't have the latter two at home as a child, and caring for the animals compensated for that. After all, dogs love unconditionally.
Daria - the daughter of a doctor and a law student - had to learn independence quickly. Dad started a new family when she was 3-4 years old, and my mother often changed her place of residence, partners, she liked alcohol. Mental and physical abuse appeared, leaving the child alone for a few days at home.
Although, as Daria Mejnartowicz points out, not all the moments spent with my mother were bad - there were good days, symptoms of concern, gifts - it was not everyday life. As the neighbors slowly began to pay attention to what was happening behind the wall, as the teachers started asking about the situation at home, Daria's mother decided to transfer her to another school, where she could start over and where she had no bad opinion.
- I changed primary school 4 times - when I managed to establish a bond with my classmates, I had to say goodbye to them and try to find them in another school again. I was lucky that in this difficult situation there were always helpful people around me - says Daria Mejnartowicz.
People like the volleyball coach who helped a 15-year-old girl get a place in a boarding school after her mother kicked her out of the house after one of the fights. Grandma Cecylia, who lived with Daria, her two sisters and mother for a long time, also helped, helping with cleaning and cooking, but most of all - giving the girls warm feelings. Grandma was terribly nervous about what was going on with her granddaughters and daughter, she suffered from heart disease and died of heart disease.
Aunt Janina, also known as Bubcia, a laboratory technician from Wyszków, took Daria under her roof several times, when she was 6, 10 and 13 years old. It happened that five people - with their sisters and grandmother - lived in a 30-meter studio apartment of their aunt.
Her teacher also shared her apartment, or rather a study room, for Daria. She knew that this exemplary student (learning was a way to prove her worth) had no conditions to calmly do her homework, so she gave her a key that she could always use. And Daria did just that, which more than once resulted in common conversations.
To make them better than others
Daria Mejnartowicz is a graduate of rehabilitation and MBA studies, she also completed postgraduate studies in sexology, master's studies in management and marketing. She also obtained a doctorate - in 2000 she defended herself under prof. Zbigniew Lew-Starowicz, at the time when her fiancé decided to leave with her friend. She wrote a paper devoted to an issue that, 20 years later, is still not often discussed - the sexuality of people with Down syndrome.
For many years Mejnartowicz worked with children with physical and mental disabilities at the swimming pool at ul. Inflancka in Warsaw. She was the deputy manager of the Center, but after work she conducted her own classes with children with disabilities. As part of the Center's programs, she organized summer and winter camps. She wanted, however, that even for this short period of time, children who have more difficult life in their lives would feel great, and others - even envy them. She looked for sponsors and state organizations to organize for them something more than the program of activities, e.g. trips to the cinema, horse riding, diving, water skiing, concerts of the police representative orchestra and dog shows of these services.
Working with children was accompanied by working on oneself - getting rid of panic attacks, anxiety, developing self-esteem and believing in oneself. She started attending individual and group psychotherapy, taking part in personal development workshops - everything lasted over 7 years, but managed to overcome the biggest problems.
- I feel like I still have a lot to do, but this 7-year-old plowing has given me a lot. I do not always create perfect relationships, but I am glad that my heart reacts, I have not buried my sensitivity, I can cry, be defenseless, admit my mistake, but also fight for my own. Like when I had to deal first with unfair dismissal, then with mobbing and discrimination in the workplace. And I won, also in court - confesses Daria Mejnartowicz.
It slowly started to fall into place. Daria metPaula - the future fiancé. They bought land for their dream house with a garden, they were already "registered with the office". Paul often told her: "I love you exactly as you are" - I love you the way you are, you don't have to change anything about yourself.
With only 6 weeks left to the wedding, they packed up for a romantic weekend in Białowieża. They didn't get there - the drunk driver caused a head-on collision that only Daria survived.
- Paul lived exactly 15971 days, and I was born on September 15, 1971 - 15971. It's no coincidence. After the accident, I cried for 2 years and started asking myself: "Why me?". After all, I worked so much on myself, I was a completely different person than before. Except it's "Why me?" is the victim's question - I went from there to the question: "Why did this happen to me?" What is it for? Is it supposed to be a signal to jump off a bridge or rather to wake up? It cost me a lot of effort again, I couldn't bear it myself.
Daria Mejnartowicz wanted the good she received from people she met in her adult life, and earlier - in childhood and adolescence - to go further into the world. She started in her backyard. Preparing Christmas packages for needy children, cleaning the apartment of a depressed friend, building a dog kennel for an 82-year-old priest friend.
If I break through the glass ceiling, I won't take a ladder with me
Her efforts were noticed by Agnieszka Bilińska and Daria Gołębiowska-Tataj, who opened a branch of Vital Voices Global Partnerhship in Poland - an international organization founded in 2006 by Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright. This is a prestigious initiative in which Daria Mejnartowicz participated in 2010.
The founders of the Polish branch of the organization nominated her to participate in the world edition of the Fortune / US State Department Global Women's Mentoring Partnership program, and this time she was also appreciated. Along with 24 representatives of developing countries (Poland was also included among them) - business leaders, women with leadership abilities, Daria Mejnartowicz was invited to Washington in 2012. Then, in 2014-2015, she took part in another Vital Voices LEAD Fellowship mentoring program, organized in cooperation with UK AID.
In the US, she met important people, met Hillary Clinton, Barbara Mikulski, Barbara Boxer and others. During the gala dinner, each of the women was called out by their first and last names, and the rest - other distinguished activists and over 200 American women present at the gala - applauded her.
During her stay in the States, Daria Mejnartowicz had meetings withwith their mentors (Vital Voices Global Partnership is a mentoring program in which more experienced business women from developed countries support those from developing countries). At that time, she was already working as a manager in a private clinic, and therefore met with presidents and senior managers of the largest companies in the world. They kept saying, "If it weren't for other people's help, I wouldn't have gotten where I am. So when one of the women manages to break through the business glass ceiling, she simply can't take the ladder behind her, because that would make it impossible for other members of her gender to climb that ceiling."
After returning to Poland, Mejnartowicz stated that … in business, she does not care about the highest positions and prestige. She did not start earning more, did not change her job, but she started cooperation with distinguished activists met during the world meeting of Vital Voices:
- I have always wanted to help children and women, I was sensitive to news from Africa about the situation in Ethiopia or Somalia. But I did not know how to help. After participating in the Vital Voices program, I finally got an answer to the question that I asked myself after Paul's death: "What is all this for?" In order to help others. Thanks to the program, I was able to develop professionally, be a strategist, earn a lot of money, but I chose something completely different - I used the contacts there to act among people, on the spot. This place turned out to be literally the whole world.
After leaving for the USA, Daria Mejnartowicz flew to Burma in 2012 and volunteered as a rehabilitator in a poor Golden Girls Clinic. She spent PLN 5,500 on the flight - she paid for everything out of her own pocket. To this day, she travels when she manages to get a leave from work. He tries to make 2-3 trips a year.
After Burma, it is Nigeria's turn, although many warned: "it can be dangerous there", "watch out for kidnappings". Indeed, during Daria Mejnartowicz's stay, two Chinese were kidnapped for ransom, she faced difficult conditions at Diocesan Akwudo Hospital, a private mission hospital.
She often worked with a flashlight because there was no electricity in the building. Patients lay on beds without bedding, drugs were dispensed on pieces in plastic bags - the only information on them was about the frequency of taking them. Patients were surprised when their physiotherapist, instead of prescribing pills, in which they believed so much, recommended exercise. Awareness of he alth and self-care was very low.
After staying in Nigeria, this was the one for disabled peopleTibetan refugees in a center established by the 14th Dalai Lama, then it was the turn of Guatemala and lectures for young people, later on the list was Kenya and equipping schools with sports equipment, building 15 volleyball courts, Tanzania, Jordan, Philippines. During the reign of the Ebola virus in 2014, Daria Mejnartowicz sent non-contact thermometers to Liberia, which were worth their weight in gold at that time. In 2013, she had the opportunity to shake hands with the 14th Dalai Lama and Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
In Madagascar, an activist supports a family orphanage, in Nepal - together with Agnieszka Dydycz she rebuilt a school for 203 children and brought 600 kg of school aids, and in Ghana every year she organizes sports competitions for 200 girls. In India, she took part in mentoring classes for girls, and provided educational, sports, medical aids and limb brace for a disabled friend to refugee camps on the Syrian-Lebanese border.
- During these trips, I try to put a lot of emphasis on sport. He has always been important to me and I believe that he can give a lot to girls and women. We've built women's pitches in the Nairobi slums - they have their games and the guys are cheering for them. The same is true during the competition in Ghana - the whole town is supporting the girls - says Daria Mejnartowicz.
On November 27, 2022, as part of her second holiday break, she flew to Liberia to educate women in the prevention of breast cancer and teach, among others, breast self-examination. This is the first such program in this country.
Helping - the light side of domination
Helping should be balanced - you cannot only help, you also have to allow yourself to be given something. Why? Often, the one who helps is seen higher in the hierarchy, he considers more important.
- I am learning to help all the time, which also means being able to accept help. During one of the trips, as I still had extra funds, I asked the girls what else they would need, but just for themselves. They asked … for 15 kg of suds to wash. Then about a mop with a bucket, and a squeegee so that they would not have to pick it out with their hands, and then about devices that would make it easier for them to remove cobwebs from the walls. Only at the end did they ask for toasted bread and chocolate, or actually a chocolate-like product …
One day they asked if they could wash something for me. I wanted to deny it right away, because I would feel awkward, but after a while I realized it and said, "Sure, you'll help me a lot." Thanks to them, I had clean clothes, and they stopped feeling that "they owed me something".
That's why I often encourage, for example, girls whoScience was sponsored to write a few words of thanks - that there would be this effort, return of energy. They are also very eager to do it. Women embroider napkins, sew bags for people who helped them. Thanks to this, helping is no longer the bright side of domination, but a more even relationship.
"The world is your family and the projects are your children"
What are Daria Mejnartowicz's plans for the future? Maybe your own foundation, which would make it possible to help others full-time? Although, on the other hand, it is easier to help when you have job security and you are afraid of your financial future, about having to pay your bills, buy clothes, food, he was always with Daria. Maybe working for UNICEF or another organization and the opportunity to do what you love the most all the time, without worrying about financial resources? It will definitely not change that he will help people.
- One of my African mentors on Vital Voices said that the world is my family and the people I support my children. I agree with her - although I do not have children of my own and I am sometimes afraid of lonely old age, I have sisters and brothers all over the world who invite: "Come to Africa for retirement. We are your family."