Veritatis Splendor Charity Fair. Kraków has become the capital of charity

For the first time, the Veritatis Splendor Charity Fair was held in the Małopolska Region. Representatives of 44 charity organisations from all over the world came to the region’s capital. Participants in the wonderful event that started on 14 September could be seen strolling in Kraków’s Planty Park, near to the J. Słowacki Theatre. In a village specially erected for the purposes of the Fair, stands were presented by organisations, among others, from the US, Italy, France, Romania, Belarus, Kenya, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Madagascar and Georgia. For four days, representatives of foundations shared their solutions about help and positive energy with the citizens of Kraków.

The first day of the Veritatis Splendor Charity Fair was marked by conferences and debates. The International Conference of the John Paul II Veritatis Splendor Award was held at the J. Słowacki Theatre attended by the first recipient of the award, Sr. Rosemary Nyirumbe, and Anna Dymna, Fr. J. Stryczek, Sr. M. Chmielewska and Sr. Teresa Pawlak. Participants in a discussion panel attended by representatives of charity organisations and Szymon Hołownia talked about wise assistance, overcoming one’s own weaknesses and the biggest problems that accompany charitable activities.

In the evening of that day, Fair participants attended a debate on “Charity. A Need for Heart or Fashion?”, broadcast by Radio Kraków and Kraków Television. The invited guests, including Mr Leszek Zegzda from the Małopolska Region administration, Urszula Nowogórska, Chairwoman of the Regional Assembly, Anna Dymna, Jasiek Mela and Fr. Rafał Cyfka discussed the importance of charity in the modern world.

The Veritatis Splendor Charity Fair was a testimony to the many faces of charity. During the Fair it was expected that the announcement of the 2nd Edition of the Veritatis Splendor Award – the “Małopolski Nobel” Prize would be made. This is granted to persons who go beyond borders and break barriers in providing assistance to others. I have no doubts that charity is the best means of dialogue between man and man. Then, all prejudices and any distance break down, because a helping hand is the most important, said Leszek Zegzda from the Małopolska Region administration, who started the debate.

As noted by Urszula Nowogórska, Chairwoman of the Regional Assembly, it was worth getting acquainted with the  offers of the various organisations that came to the Fair, since a “domino effect” is often seen in helping. “People who help others very often do so because someone offered them a helping hand in the paSr. Isn’t it a beautiful domino effect – the fact that sharing goodness works so naturally and by itself? A great benefit of the Veritatis Splendor Fair is also the fact that we may meet these people, talk and see that doing good very often means little, daily gestures that we, too, may become part of” concluded Ms Urszula Nowogórska.

That charity is not only for a small group of outstanding persons was also argued by Anna Dymna, founder of the Against the Odds Foundation. It’s not about our doing something good only when we have time for it or when we feel like doing so. This should stem from – and, please believe me that this is the case – out of a natural need, almost automatically. It’s worth becoming engaged in some charity project, because it’s us who’re the biggest beneficiaries. We gain an invaluable feeling that our life makes sense. That we are changing the world for the better, she stressed.

The Veritatis Splendor International Conference, held under the slogan of “the Art of Dialogue Building in the Divided World” was a central point of the second day of the Charity Fair. It brought together representatives of various circles, professions and faiths. Nonetheless, what they all have in common is their awareness that only open dialogue may solve the numerous problems of today’s world: terrorism, wars, violence and poverty. The speakers, among others, included the John Paul II Veritatis Splendor Award recipient Sr. Rosemary Nyirumbe from Uganda, Director Krzysztof Zanussi, Stanisław Cardinal Dziwisz, Hanna Suchocka, former Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the Vatican, Bishop of Nazareth Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarch of Syria Gregory III Laham and Italian Senator Rocco Buttiglione. The discussion was opened by Leszek Zegzda representing the Małopolska Region  administration.

Stanisław Cardinal Dziwisz recollected the figure of the great patron of both the Charity Fair and the Veritatis Splendor Award in the context of a new dialogue. Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, first recipient of the Award, works on a daily basis in Uganda with girls that have had particularly harsh experiences in life. During her testimony she talked about efforts to restore the dignity of those under her care and make their lives valuable again, while teaching them faith in themselves and in other people. Sister Rosemary again remarked about the Veritatis Splendor Award. It was like a miracle for me she said. I had never been to Poland before, and then I received such an unexpected message. Over the year since I received the award, I’ve managed to do a lot of good things. The money changes the lives of many young girls. This award is an example of dialogue, too. Because charity is its best example. This doesn’t only mean giving; primarily, it means seeing another man and his problems.

The Fair is not only about debates and discussions. The stage under the papal window at Franciszkańska Street No. 3 was taken by musicians from Golec uOrkiestra, and the highlanders’ band Trebunie-Tutki and participants in the Rebel Babel project, or an international orchestra made up of brass bands. Nearly 100 musicians were accompanied by: L.U.C., Grubson, Rapsusklei, Promoe and Marcelina.

It does not take much to help others. This was proven by participants of the charity run that took place in Wadowice and was one of the events accompanying the Veritatis Splendor Charity Fair. Each of the runners arriving at the start line made their own contribution to help others. Half of the run’s income was allocated for charity purposes.

At 14:00 sharp, 65 runners set off from Wadowice’s market on a 5km challenge through the same streets that Karol Wojtyła used to walk years ago. For Adam Jamiński, who arrived first at the finish line, it took 15 min. and 54 sec. to complete the 5-kilometre run. Second to cross the finish line was Sławomir Kukuła for whom it took 17 min. and 27 sec. and third was Tomasz Wójcik who finished in 17 min. and 34 sec. Among the women Bogusława Kupczak was the best (clocking: 21 min. and 40 sec), while second came Gabriela Mikulska (22 min. and 41 sec.) and third was Agnieszka Mikulska (22 min. and 52 sec.). Each of the runners received an extraordinary starter pack that included: a jersey, a commemorative medal, and… a cream puff from Wadowice made world famous by John Paul II.

On Saturday evening the most famous address in Poland – Franciszkańska Street No. 3 – was changed beyond recognition. An extraordinary history was painted in light on the wall of the Bishop’s Palace in Kraków in which a key figure was John Paul II.

The Fair’s last day was a day of a blood donation. Several dozen people decided to share what they considered most precious. By donating blood during the “Drop of Mercy” event they proved that assistance could take various forms. The event marked the end of the first Veritatis Splendor Charity Fair that was held in Kraków from 14 to 17 September. According to a statement by the Małopolska Region authorities, the next Fair shall take place in two years’ time.

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