Arrival and Absorption
“We entered a completely different environment, with totally altered rules and an entirely different lifestyle”.
(From the testimony of Danek Młotek)
The process of arrival and absorption in the children’s home in Otwock was a complicated and often difficult one. In general, the children arrived in depleted physical and emotional states. They were often infested with lice, posing a major challenge to the staff of the home. Each child’s head was completely shaved and their clothes were taken away. Lacking supplies, the children’s home did not have clothing to replace the lice-ridden garments, so the children were initially dressed in blankets and linens until clean clothing was obtained for them. For many of the children, this was their first memory of being lice-free.
Living in extreme conditions while in hiding, many of the children were dangerously weak and sick. One of the first priorities of the staff was to restore their health and ensure that the children receive proper medical care. One of the children, for example, had been hidden in a hole buried under ground, and had thus lost most of the functioning in his legs. Partially paralyzed, the child had to be nursed back to health and regain the ability to walk. Some of the sicker children were sent to the sanatorium that was also located in Otwock in order to recuperate.
Many of the children had been in hiding alone or with adults, and upon their arrival in the home, were now thrust into a world of children. They had to learn to follow a set schedule and routine. For the first time, they were not struggling to find food and to survive. However, they had to become accustomed to eating regular meals in a dining room with other children. Now, they could eat freely and play as normal children do, beginning to forge friendships and relationships with the other children in the home.