Barka Foundation in Publication of European Commission

Please see the link to the fourth publication of European Commission (from March 2013) on social economy and social entrepreneurship.

On page 27 there is an information on the Barka projects developed during the 25 years of experience of both the Barka Foundation and the Barka Network. Mentioned are the international projects initiated by Barka, among others in Africa, within INISE Internatonal Network for innovative Social Entrepreneurship (

The author of the information on Barka in the publication is Gerhard Braunling, a former employee of the European Commission (currently an expert of the Commission). Gerhard Braunling was in chagrge of administering and developing the EQUAL community Initiative in old and new Member States.

Interns in Barka IE

Barka IE recently hosted two internships. Our first intern was Magda Herbik who visited us from April 3rd to April 10th . Magda is a globetrotter from Poland and a graduate of international relations studies, who has spent several months on a scholarship in both China and Turkey.

Our second intern who served as intern from 15 to 21 April was Wlodzimierz Placewicz. A Polish citizen, born in Lithuania, now living in Canada for the last 27 years. He is currently leading a house for people with mental health problems. He recently founded and registered Barka Canada in March of 2013. His recent visit to Dublin was the only one of a series of study visit to the Barka Network. In his monthly internship programme with Barka he visited Barka communities in Chudobczyce , Wladyslawowo, Posadowek, Strzelce Opolskie and Barka headquarters in Poznań, a social enterprise in the “W Starej Piekarni”(The Old Bakery). He also visited Social Integration Centres and other Barka centers abroad including projects in UK, Holland and Germany.

During their stay in Dublin interns observed the work of Barka staff and actively participated in meetings, built relationships with people in extreme circumstances (the homeless, addicts and unemployed). Barka IE would like to express our sincere thanks to the Interns for their hard work and the time spent working together in Dublin. We also offer our best wishes for their further successes. Welcome to the Barka family!

Workshop about addictions ” On the other side of the mirror”

On the 12th of April CKU – Centrum Konsultacyjne Uzaleznień (Centre for Addiction Counseling) in Dublin organized a workshop about addictions. This meeting was led by the psychiatrist and addiction specialist Bohdan T. Woronowicz. As a doctor he has been treating addicts for over 30 years. During the meeting he discussed: why people get addicted, how the healing starts, how to help addicts and not to live in the trap of addiction. The main topic of the workshop was “Is the person addicted to be blamed for his or her addiction”. In addition “other” causes and symptoms of addiction were discussed -from Pharma drug addiction to Internet addiction. The workshop was attended by people suffering addiction, their families, representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) and the Barka IE stuff. The initiative to invite Doctor Woronowicz to Ireland for this meeting proved both interesting and important. It has demonstrated the potential of a new and responsible approach to treating both addiction and those addicted.

the 70th birthday of Tomasz Sadowski

On the 3rd and 4th of March, the Barka Foundation, the Barka network and its associations, the community as well as friends and partners celebrated the 70th birthday of Tomasz Sadowski, the co-founder of Barka. The first part of the ceremony took place in Chudobczyce near Pniewy, with members of the Barka community on an organic farm. The morning began with an extraordinary Holy Mass service celebrated by Father Joseph Krawiec (a priest leading the community in Barka Strzelce Opolskie), which united everyone who participated in a spirit of thankfulness for Tomasz’s creative influence on the lives of many people and communities throughout Poland, Europe and the world.

The Mass readings focused on the role of Moses and his role in the exodus of the people who had lived in slavery in Egypt, providing them with a new beginning to live in dignity and freedom.

Father Joseph compared the story of Moses with the role played by Tomasz Sadowski, in creating conditions for the development and reconstruction of the lives of many people who were once lost.

After the Mass a lunch was held in Chudobczyce, which was followed by a social gathering. The participants shared their own personal reflections and memories since the beginning of the foundation of Barka. They shared their stories with Tomasz and all others present, some stories that involved Tomasz and the impact he’s had on certain people’s lives.

On Monday 4th of March at 3pm, Tomasz’s benefit performance was held at Barka’s cafe “The Old Bakery”, which is near Poznan’s Środecki Square. This event was organised by member of his closest family and co-workers. It was a pleasant surprise for Tomasz.

The event was attended by representatives of local partnerships of the Social Economy, employees of the Barka Network Foundation, Barka representatives from the Netherlands, Ireland and England, as well as immediate members of his own family and friends. First of all we read wishes which arrived from all over the world, including Africa. Tomasz has been given the title of chief Mutua by the chiefs of the tribe of Pokomo. This occurred during his visit to Kenya and Ethiopia, where the Barka Foundation received 25 hectares of land in a place where the river Tana flows into the Indian ocean.
Then the delegations concluded the ceremony providing Tomasz with flowers and gifts. Among the gifts was a telescope that Tomasz “could monitor effectively”, publications on Africa, as well as seeds and bulbs of flowers and a fishing rod. Finally, Tomasz was asked to give a speech. He spoke of his reflections regarding his 70th birthday, and also mentioned how materialism can have a negative impact on society.

In the second part of the ceremony Tomasz’s daughters: Jadzia, Marysia and Ewa sang “Hymn to the Father,” to the tune of the musical “Les Miserables”. The lyrics were put together by Ewa with Dominik Gorny on keyboards.

Mateusz Kofta, the representative of the Środecki Partnership played “Mission” by Ennio Morricone on the bassoon .

Subsequently, his wife Barbara and Ewa said a few words “from the heart” about a difficult, but an extremely creative journey that they have taken with Tomasz.

Tomasz blew out the seventy candles and received seventy maroon roses from his family.

Tomasz’s 70th birthday created a window for a prompt reflection and discussion on the role of elders in the lives of families and clans, the impact of fathers and husbands for the building and creative development of family relations, and above all, the immense gratitude for Tomasz’s life and his contribution to the development of civilization, solidarity for the common good.

Baiba Dhidha Mjidho, the chairman of the African Forum in the United Kingdom in his wishes for Tomasz wrote: “persons who have been rescued are the largest witness and the fruit of Tom’s work. “

The celebrations of Tomasz’s 70th birthday marked the beginning of a new phase in Barka’s journey, which is associated with the progress of projects in Africa and preparations for the 25th anniversary of the Barka Foundation.


A Hymn for my father in dedication of his 70th birthday

In the melody of the song “Do you hear the people sing” from the musical “Les Miserables”
Lyrics: Ewa Sadowska
Translated by: Magdalena Herbik & Lee Seaman


For Seventy years
You have had an unenviable task
living here with us
Standing proudly as our chief
Your wisdom provides us
with a guiding light
Mutuła came
And left his mark

Folks, seriously
Come here and join us
Let’s sing out loud
And work restlessly
Let us not delay
Before our weakness
snaps us on the bones

Have you heard the beat of the drums?
Have you noticed the eagle’s shadow?
Destiny has brought the eagle to us
For the glory of humanity

The freedom is ours
That is why we worship
We do not stain our gates
And we return to virtue

You have always repeated it to us
That revolution is not the way
In the wake of evolution
It will come to look despite our scars
Love will give us a way
To avoid the path of vanityBe the voice of society

They will renew the spark of the community
You will become a part of the brotherhood
There is a journey awaiting you
You will hear the loud beats of the drums
Here comes the glorious day

We will persevere
So long as we are strong

You will recognize the fruits of their labour
When the time comes for the results
And then you will call
You will recognize us as brothers
Giving a sign of victory
On the trail of the brotherhood
Give us a hand!


Study visit of Dutch municipalities in Barka Network in Poland

The representatives of Dutch municipalities, who invited Barka in January this year to start homeless migrants’ support programmes in 3 big cities in Holland ( Utrecht, The Hague, Amsterdam) came to visit Barka Network in Poland on 14-17 October. Representatives of organisations helping the homeless in those cities, the police and NOS journalists took part in the visit as well.

The participants visited Barka Network programmes in Poznan and the area, among them: the Communities, where homeless migrants, who have nowhere to go back, are returning to. There was also time to speak to few persons, who used to be homeless in Utrecht, Amsterdam and The Hague and were reconnected to Barka programmes in Poland, underwent alcohol addiction rehabilitation and are rebuilding their lives now.

Apart from visiting the Communities, the participants of the visit saw the educational programmes run by associations in Barka Network : Social Integration Centres in Poznan, Kwilcz, Gebiczyn and Chudobczyce, which are preparing long-term unemployed to enter the job-market. They also had the opportunity of visiting social cooperatives started by people, who completed Social Integration Centre programme and also local partnerships for social and vocational inclusion functioning in communes of Kwilcz, Czarnków and Lwówek Wlkp, which had been facilitated by Barka and now are functioning independently.
Dutch guests visited also the social settlement built in private-public partnership of Barka Foundation, City of Poznan and Polish government. Another entity visited was a limited liability non-profit company in Kwilcz , wchich gives employment to people who completed reintegration programmes , but still cannot find their way in open market.

Brendan’s Report

We met our traveling companion outside the Polish Consulate in Dublin in the company of Andrzej and Dagmara. With limited understanding of the potential stress for our journeyman we headed for the airport. It’s funny often when unfamiliar travelers meet for the first time, there is often a common goal established. The same destination, the same need to arrive. In this case we quickly established a simple bond, we all knew this was a trip for the best. Whether it was the gift of tobacco, a simple word of understanding or a simple act of respect and decency, in moments we were bonded together as journeymen. This was going to be a change for all of us. The flight was great and trouble free.

As promised by Barka we were welcomed by Janusz and Leszek at the airport. After a short trip to Władysławowo we were welcomed by the staff and for our friend the journey had ended but in many respects it had only just begun. This is a chance to begin again and the comfort of a new staring point can not be underestimated. From here everything changes and despite the hard path the opportunity for a new life is born.

After delivering our new friend to Władysławowo, we were transported to Chudobczyce which was like discovering a new world. Barka is just amazing, seldom do you arrive in a place where the feeling is so community based. We were shown to our ‘Hotel’ and straight away room and food was provided. Tired and grateful we slept well looking forward to the next day where we would be introduced to the team and shown how Barka works.

Day one was an early start for us but not for the community. We were brought on a tour to see the all of the areas work within the community. Farming, pigs, lambs, goats, agriculture and building new facilities, the list of work is endless. It’s great to see the passion and dedication people had in their work. Seldom does one see such a community of effort and excellence. Chudobczyce is no small undertaking and at over 70 acres, it’s an impressive place to say the least.

Lunch was served to us in ‘Andrzej’s Palace’ a beautiful old building which is being lovingly restored. We were served great food throughout our stay, most of which was sourced directly from the farm.

It’s hard in some ways to summarize briefly the enormous benefits of Barka’s work but evidence of their successful community approach is there for all to see. This is a community run by people who understand the path to recovery and in the case of Chudobczyce, Barka has built an ideal environment where recovery and re-building of lives can be achieved in a meaningful and respectful way.

From what I understand about Barka’s philosophy it is not to provide a sort of short term fix but rather to take a long term approach which is committed to recovery and rehabilitation. Sadly we often looks for a rug to sweep our problems under with no real forethought given to providing a sustainable solution.

Society has also created a world where through illness, misfortune or just poor decision making people sometimes fail. Through a downward spiral some are drawn inexorably towards a narcotic or alcohol driven tranquilized state to try and cope with the distress of outcast status. In our eyes these people are failures but in truth we as a society have failed them.

On route to the airport we dropped Andrzej and Dagmara back to Barka in Dublin. I was taken by the fact that our journeyman had time to say goodbye to some of his friends who were gathered nearby. In my mind I saw them as a street family with no recourse but to survive on the fringes of both society and the law. The scene was of one of support and well wishes for a family friend embarking on his journey for the chance for a new start and hopefully a better life. Sadly, even those on the street know that their situation is untenable and their survival is too often uncertain.

Homelessness, destitution nor alcoholism is not a life any us would freely choose but sometimes in despair this life is forced on those at the fringes of our society. My experience of Barka has shown me that there is a way that can save those who reach the wall. Once reached, Barka offer a real and committed road to salvation and the chance of a new life.

We will never solve our problems by hiding them only by confronting them and working together to solve them.

My respect to the team at Barka for all their wonderful work.

Brendan Farrell

Iza’s Report

I was excited when I was asked if I would travel to Poland with one of the men, who wanted to return and try a new life in Barka. I was aware it could be both something new and unusual for me with potential difficulties. I guess however that it was also quite a stressful experience for our companion. But the journey went well, we had lots of honest chats and jokes along the way.

On arrival to Poznań we were welcomed by Janusz and Leszek and off we went to Władysławowo, where our friend was staying. After short goodbye we went to Chudobczyce, where Zdzisław was waiting for us. We were brought to the apartament we stayed in and offered some food.
The next morning, after breakfast in lovely Manor House we had a chance to visit the farm. There are sheep, pigs, goats and a few rabbits. And huge land to work on.
Zdzisław also showed us nice little houses at the nearby lake. Jurek is looking after this little estate during the Summer and in the Winter usualy he works in London.
Later we met Tomek, who’s looking after the whole community and we had very insightfull conversation with Kasia. She is very involved in a lot of various Barka projects. Listening about what she does and what kind of mental barriers she has to overcome while liasing with other people and organisations was very interesting. There is still lots of stereotypes and prejudice about people with addictions and homeless people and about how to help them.

In the afternoon we had some time for ourselves so we went for a walk around this beatiful area. We met goats caretaker who was walking his herd of kids and they were following him in the way dogs would follow their owner. It was a lovely sight – lots of curious and lively animals walking and playing around. We also met up Jurek again who then joined us for our meals. We had very enjoyable converations about his work in Barka and life in general.
We had some nice chats with the ladies who were cooking for us and serving food. They were very friendly and the meals were nice.

There is around 70 people living in this community in Chudobczyce. For most of them this is their second chance in life. After a while in Barka some people decide to stay, some even start their family and live within community, some go their way and try to make a living outside, some go back to their hometowns.
During our stay heard some very uplifting stories of personal success, of overcoming addiction, overcoming being homeless or unemployed. All the people we met were hard working, acctually at times we felt a bit guilty that we were taking their precious time. Anyway, if I had met any of the people form the community somewhere outside, I would have never guessed the hardship and difficulties they had had to fight in life.

There is a lot going on in Chudobczyce. Apart from looking after all the animals and the land, there is an impressive canteen and conference room being built by people from the community. Another man makes trailers using his welding skills. There is also a nice barbecue site and playground built by the residents. Former sheds have been transformed into a library, gym, tv room and small internet cafe. The community house and hotel we stayed in was also rebuilt by the people from Barka.

The Barka community in Chudobczyce seems to be well integrated with the local residents. Children often come there to play and use facilities instead of just hanging around bus stops or outside of shops. Local mechanic fixes tractors in exchange of some other favours with working on fields. Sometimes Barka even organises local festivals.

When leaving Barka on Friday morning I felt uplifted. I now realise in life, some people face difficulties which are hard to overcome. I now understand that Barks is very unusual place where lots of people despite sometimes having been deserted by friends and family, have succsseded in starting a new life against the odds.