We're starting a new blog series! Each month, we want to take a moment and give you some background, some insight, into the woman that we're celebrating in our next crate and why it is that we chose to feature that particular woman. This month's crate celebrates a woman we're calling the Fierce Protector...what a crate to start with!
This month is our 'secret agent' crate. We wanted to do a crate that celebrated the life and work of a female secret/double agent because well, that's just...cool. We went back and forth about who we wanted to feature because there are some really amazing women who were behind enemy lines for their country, their cause. But then, we met the woman we've named the Fierce Protector. While this woman was more of a resistance worker than a spy or a double agent, everything fell into place because after digging deep into the life and work of this truly remarkable lady, this is a woman who needs to be known.
Let's set the scene. Travel with me to Poland. Imagine growing up outside of Warsaw in the 1910s. You watch your father, a doctor, treat people other doctors won't treat because they fear what they'll contract from them. But your father, he treats every patient because that's what you do, you help people. Your parents instill in you and your siblings the idea that all people, no matter their background, their religion, are deserving of respect and kindness because they're people. Unfortunately, your father does contract typhus and just before his death tells you that if you see a person drowning, you must jump in and save them even if you can't swim. That sticks with you.
It sticks with you throughout the Nazi occupation of Warsaw in such a way that you put your very life on the line daily to save Warsaw's Jewish children. Joining the Polish resistance underground movement, Zegota, you and other women take it upon yourselves to secret away Jewish children to convents and Polish farms to keep them safe.
This is the woman we're featuring. A woman who, with everything she was and had, protected people, children to the best of her ability. A woman who set aside everything she could to help during history's darkest period. She was a light in a dark place. And yet her story is largely unknown. Her name was Irena Sendler.
There's little written or known about Irena Sendler. Why? Well, mostly because at the time the Germans certainly didn't want Irena's story told and following the fall of the German occupation of Poland, Communist Russia took over and didn't want her story known either because she was seen as a threat. It wasn't until 4 American students stumbled upon her story in 1999 that Irena's name became more well known. But that, dear friends, is another story for another day.
Irena Sendler is known as the "Female Oskar Schindler." To which I say: "Phooey." Irena Sendler is incomparable. She was uniquely herself. She worked to save Jewish children because it was the right thing to do. In the face of evil, it was the right thing to do. In the face of certain personal consequences should she be caught, it was the right thing to do. And because of that, she is credited with rescuing some 2,500 Jewish children. Sit with that for a moment. 2,500 children. That's a staggering number of children for one woman to rescue, to rescue from homes before they were moved into the Ghetto, to smuggle out of the Ghetto. And yet, she said of what she did: "Heroes do extraordinary things. What I did was not an extraordinary thing. It was normal." Mercy. That's humility. That's heroic. And that's why we want to introduce little ones to secret agent, Irena Sendler, the Fierce Protector.