This week we lost two amazing people, Paul Polansky and Brian Donnelly. 

It is with a very heavy heart that i write this post, the world is a better place for their life and a worse place for their loss. 

Paul is someone who Hope and Aid Direct have known for many years from Kosovo.  The following extract and image is taken from Facebook:

A great, tireless fighter for Roma rights has passed away. Paul Polansky was born in 1942 to German and Czech immigrants in Mason City, Iowa, USA. But in protest against the Vietnam War, he left his birth country and lived in Europe, for the time being in the Czech Republic.

He was the main driving force behind the unearthing of the shocking details about the “Roma death camp” in Lety in South Bohemia in the early 1990s’, where over 300 Roma and Sinti were killed during the Nazi time and many hundreds tortured and deported to Auschwitz afterwards. In the 1970’s, the Czechoslovak Republic build a pig farm on the very spot of the camp – and Paul Polansky was the person discovering the erased history of this place.

In 1999, he was one of the main reporter about the war crimes on Romani people during the Kosovo war and about their devastating living conditions after the war. At the risk of his life, he experienced pogroms against Romani people after the invasion of NATO troops, which led to the expulsion of 90 percent of this population. Since then, Paul has put all his energy into fighting for the survival of the persecuted and despised ethnic groups in Kosovo.

Paul was a great supporter of the Jubilee Congress, and was involved in its preparations till his last days. We were hoping to be able to listen to his important witness at the Kosovo panel on 9th April. We will carry on with his fight for justice and make it stronger and successful one day.

Our sincere condolences to Paul’s beloved ones.

Brian Donnelly was another amazing soul. 

He was the driving force behind the Group Leaders Group. For those of you who dont know this group, it is a group of 350 members, mostly grassroots NGO's who formed in the wake of the migrant crisis in Europe.

He realised that we all needed to work together with a common cause and due to his involvement many thousands of refugees were helped in a more structured, loving and useful way.

He always had the time to help, no matter who you were and what the problem was.

Nothing sums up Brian more than hs own words, again taken from Facebook. Unitl the end he was thinking about others.

Dear Friends,

At the end of 2019 I was diagnosed with Mouth Cancer and had a course of Radiotherapy which was only partially successful.

Up until now my condition has been stable and I have been able to allocate time and energy to Refugee Support work.

Unfortunately I feel that the amount of work generated by the recent GLG projects in the last few months has taken its toll and I now need to focus my attention, both on my health and my wonderful family.

With this in mind I have decided to give up all of my GLG work until further notice. Given the new challenges of Brexit, this may be a good time to:-

Refresh the core objectives of the Group Leaders Group?

Introduce some new people to work alongside Angus Clark, Sue Lacey and Amber Bauer as members of the Central coordinating team?

Build some new relationships with some new agencies ?

I have enjoyed working with so many amazing people and wish you all success with your essential humanitarian work. You are all nothing short of incredible.

Best Wishes,

Brian