Part 1: In the beginning, there was Poland (1930-1949)
It is hard to tell you the story of Tshukudu if we don’t tell you the story of the founders.
Tshukudu’s story is one that started in a land far-far away, just like the start of a fairy tale. However, this fairy tale is not without hardships and it is apt we start at the beginning… Poland.
Alina Kuchcinska was born in Poland on the 6th of June in 1930 to loving parents, Judge Lubomir Kuchicinski & Mrs. Judge Maria Telatycka. She grew up in the idyllic Northern town of Swieciany in Lithuania (then part of Poland) and had a younger mischievous brother, Janusz. The children were much loved by their doting parents and didn’t want for anything.
Ala (how she would later be known by friends), remembers her favourite time in Poland to be Christmas. From Wigilia to watching shooting stars and feasting, to optalek (bread) breaking and 12 meatless dishes that represented the 12 apostles. After midnight mass the family would all sit around and eat cake and drink tea to into the early hours of the morning.
This peaceful life would soon come to an end after hearing about impending unrest by the German army. Mom and dad were sure to teach the kids early on to retreat to the cellar if they heard any sirens in attempt to keep them safe from potential bombing attacks. After Germany and Russia formed an alliance, sites of tanks rolling through town became a natural sight. The family decided to move to a humbler dwelling in Lithuania in an attempt to escape anti-capitalism communists.
Mom and Emilia (the nanny) were tasked to look after the children while Judge Lubomir went into hiding. The alliance didn’t look kindly on Polish intelligentsia. Sharing a single room didn’t prove to be half has hard as what was in store for the ‘fatherless’ family.
Soon their true identities would be uncovered and they had to flee. The start of abuse, empty promises and illnesses on a jam-packed and toilet less train would ensue. But this was not a match on what was to come. Hitler’s cruelty knew no bounds and the Polish people’s hatred grew. The next stop was to be a village in Kazakstan, Siberia.
In true childlike fashion, the children made the best of their situation by playing ‘Cowboys and Indians’ and enjoying their childhood by embracing everything nature had to offer. Working mothers, school going children and faith was the only normalcy that this never-ending struggle for survival had to offer.
More journeys in even harder conditions were on the cards for the family. They travelled to Uzbekistan and later crossed the Caspian Sea to end up in Tehran.
Salvation came after a doctor arranged for transport for Ala’s mother, herself and her brother on a ship to South Africa. Ala’s miracle couldn’t arrive sooner, and in first class none the less. Luxury accommodation, sweets and laughter filled the ship as they celebrated the next chapter of their lives and said goodbye to the dreadful past few years.
To be continued…