I recently came across the story of a lady named Irena Sendler who worked in the ghettos of Warsaw as a social worker during World War II.

This extraordinary woman smuggled Jewish children to safety using a range of innovative techniques, including ambulances and underground passages.  She carried infants in the bottom of tool boxes or even coffins and older children in a sack that she placed in the back of her truck.

She also had a dog that sat in the truck that was trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers approached the truck as she entered and exited the ghetto.  The soldiers wanted nothing to do with the dog, so they’d stay clear.  The barking would also cover the sounds of the frightened children and infants.

Over the course of her endeavours, she and her team of helpers were responsible for saving 2,500 children from almost certain torture and death.

Irene was eventually caught, was severely tortured and sentenced to death.

Amazingly, she was saved on the way to her execution, by a group who bribed her Nazi guards.  She was left unconscious, with both legs and arms broken.  Despite her escape, it was publicly announced that she had been executed, so for the remainder of the war she lived in hiding, while still finding a way to help Jewish children.

Irena kept a record of all the names of the children that she smuggled out of the ghetto, and kept these names in glass jars buried under trees in her back yard.

After the war, she tried to locate any surviving parents, and managed to reunite some families.  Sadly, most parents had been killed, so Irena helped the remaining children get placements with foster families and assisted with adoptions.

What an extraordinary woman!

Sometimes we read a story about someone amazing like Irena Sendler and think that we will never be in a situation to make such an incredible difference in people’s lives.

Whilst we may never be in such a dramatic set of circumstances, we can still learn from her story.

I’m sure that Irena would say that she:

  • Saw a need.
  • Had the resources to do something about it.
  • Took decisive action with courage and boldness.

Let’s be honest.

We can all do that can’t we?

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