I’ve just discovered the story of Irena Sendlerowa. She was responsible for saving 2,500 children in occupied Poland during World War Two. She took them out the Warsaw Ghetto in various hiding places, including carts, body bags, and sometimes escaping through sewers. When they were out she gave them false papers and had them stay with foster families. She kept all of their names on two separate lists buried in jars in her garden so the children could return to their families after the war. Many of them obviously didn’t get reunited as their families were killed, but many of them were able to reconcile.
A group of high school students in Kansas wrote a play about her after being given the assignment by their teacher to research Irena’s life. After putting on the play, the students were given some money to visit Irena in Poland. They started the Irena Sendler Project that continues to promote her story.
In true hero style, Irena Sendlerowa has shown humility in her comments about her role. She has said, “The term ‘hero’ irritates me greatly. The opposite is true. I continue to have pangs of conscience that I did so little.” Also, “I am not a hero,” Sendler said. “A hero is someone doing extraordinary things. What I did was not extraordinary. It was a normal thing to do.”