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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Wielbark Forest District. The State Forests tell three siblings to leave the forester’s lodge

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Three teenagers are orphaned, but fate does not spare them any problems. Mom is gone. Their father, a forester by profession, raised them alone. After his death, not only were the children left alone, but they had three months to leave the forester’s lodge. They will try to cope somehow with the care. 18-year-old Natalia will take care of her younger siblings. But they have nowhere to go.

Natalia Rydzewska turned eighteen in January, but she experienced the bitter taste of adulthood earlier. – Life is giving me a hard time. I had to take over the role of mother, says the girl. Four years ago, the mother disappeared from the children’s lives. The drama of the three siblings did not end there. – They simply don’t care about us. They don’t realize that I am a young person and I really am not able to provide these children with a future and a new home, even less so. Where am I supposed to take it all? Under the bridge? – such questions have been keeping the teenager awake at night since August 2023. After the premature death of their father – a forester – the management of the Wielbark Forest District ordered the siblings to move out by March 31. – Already during our first conversation, the forester told us that there was no way we could continue renting this place – says Natalia.

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Appeals to the General Directorate of State Forests did not help. Its new boss, Witold Koss, announced a few days ago that, according to the regulations, a family is entitled to a free apartment in a forester’s lodge for six months from the death of the employee, plus a protection period due to winter. A forester’s lodge in the village of Róklas in Warmia and Mazury needs a successor to the deceased. And if the apartment is not vacated on time, the Wielbark Forest District will charge compensation. – Life and empathy do not always go hand in hand with legal regulations – emphasizes Adam Pietrzak, press spokesman for the Regional Directorate of State Forests in Olsztyn.

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Although formally the younger siblings – fourteen-year-old Aleksandra and thirteen-year-old Michał – are formally cared for by their grandparents, in practice their older sister takes care of them on a daily basis. For now, in the only home they have always had. Grandma’s house has a kitchen and one room. – I will not build any house, because my husband is 70 years old and I am 67. We are sick people, we are on medications, my husband is waiting for surgery, and so am I – explains Irena Rydzewska, grandmother of Natalia, Aleksandra and Michał. The children live on their father’s pension and the eight hundred plus allowance. Natalia – before she even started her first year of studies – changed her studies from full-time to part-time so that she could take care of her siblings.

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A glimmer of hope

– The commune is trying to help these orphans by acting as an intermediary, maybe a participant in talks with the State Forests. I must admit that this is a very rich company – says Grzegorz Zapadka, mayor of Wielbark. This is the same company that, at the beginning of January, signed a preliminary agreement for the sale of one of the apartments in a forester’s lodge in Gdynia with Bartłomiej Obajtek for 5 percent of the value – just before his dismissal from the position of Director of the Regional Directorate of State Forests in Gdańsk.

– Dad worked in this forestry and forest district for 24 years. It’s not three days. It’s really a long time and he took care of it all (…) Is this how the forest district now repays him for all this, for these years of work? – Natalia asks.

READ ALSO: Brother of the president of Orlen and a forester’s lodge “in an attractive location”. There is a notice to the prosecutor’s office

The situation may change. As of Monday, the Regional Directorate of State Forests in Olsztyn, which manages the Wielbark Forest District, has a new acting director, who is said to have already dealt with the matter. – On his first day in office, he leaned over her. We have ideas that I can’t talk about at this stage. We are trying to find the optimal solution so as not to simply leave these children to their fate – says Adam Pietrzak.

Natalia would like to apply for legal custody of her sister and brother. – Owning a place is a condition for being able to act as a non-professional foster family – emphasizes Karolina Sosińska, president of the Association of Family Judges Pro Familia.

Children remember what their dad said. – We try to support each other, because the situation is difficult. That’s how dad always taught us that no matter what happens in life, we should just be together – says Natalia.

Author:Katarzyna Czupryńska-Chabros

Main photo source: Fakty po Południu TVN24

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