Małgorzata Jasiczek-Gebert has been the manager of the PHO Refugee Counselling Centre for many years until her death in 2011.
Małgorzata was… It sounds strange, alien, unnaturally. Małgorzata is, that’s how it has always been. Małgorzata was always there and for everybody. For her family, friends, colleagues, refugees and asylum seekers, high-ranking officials and media. She was there to solve all the problems – to have a long conversation with those who needed it, to educate, to plan projects and write applications, to go abroad and represent the organisation and to lobby. She had a coherent vision, deep knowledge on migrant and refugee issues and many years of experience. Although for the last year or so of her life she was absent from the office – fighting a serious illness and disability – she stayed involved and took active part in planning and decisionmaking.
She has not been the PHO RCC’s first boss but she has always been its know-all and perpetuum mobile, aware of the need to find and implement a systemic solution in addition to the short-term relief to the migrants. She has been actively lobbying for and working on changing the Polish immigration law.
Małgorzata was a very warm and openhearted person. She radiated good humour and treated everybody like a human being. She was able to talk to anybody – no matter what age, sex, skin colour, creed, language or social status – and make them talk. Towards us, her colleagues and subordinates, she was demanding but also very tolerant, understanding the various tensions arising from everyday contact with the human tragedy and the danger of burnout. She could make the team work harmoniously towards achieving the common goal.
Dear Małgorzata, many of us feel an emptiness in our hearts after you’re gone but we also feel we receive a legacy to take care of. We’re sure you will stay with us, you care too much to leave just like that.
Life and death are two sides of the same coin for me and as a man believing in God I believe in destiny and always humbly receive God’s verdicts, even if they are severe and painful like this time. Nevertheless I feel acute sadness and pain after I have learnt that Małgorzata Gebert has passed away.
I have met Małgosia for the first time 15 years ago, when I worked as a volunteer for the PHO RCC. She was a colleague, a friend, a sister, a mother and simply everything for us all migrants. She was able to decode all our troubles and misfortunes even if we didn’t talk about them. From the very beginning she took care of me and my family in a special way, she was there for us when we needed her.
I pray to God that He welcomes her and takes good care of her.
Awad Gabir – Sudan
( April 13, 2011)