A Story for International Day of Peace by Katie Stepek
I’d learned something of the incredible history of the Stepek family when I heard Martin Stepek speak at the Sikoski Polish Club in Glasgow a number of years ago. This year on International Day of Peace, 21st September, 2018, I read a very moving article written by his daughter Katie it brings home the plight of refugees today and raises questions about their harsh treatment by many countries.
Thanks to Katie for permitting me to publish this on my website:
‘While many of you know parts of my family history, I thought today [21 September, 2018]would be appropriate to explain what happened to my Great Grandmother, Janina Stepek [in the photo above from 1904 she is the youngest child, seated beside her mother].
In 1940, she was forcibly removed from her home, along with her three children, aged 17 (my grandfather), 14 and 12, by the invading Red Army and taken to a Gulag (a labour/concentration camp) in Russia. When Germany invaded Russia, the following year they were released and slowly made their way to Persia, a 5,000-mile journey.
Shortly after arriving in Tehran, Janina died of starvation. Her youngest daughter, now 15, weighed only 25kg and following his release my Grandfather suffered from typhus, dysentery and malaria.
All three of Janina’s children survived and led, and two are still leading, wonderfully long lives but my great grandmother never got to see her husband again, or see her children grow up or meet her grandchildren.
This might be history to most people but it’s my family and war still affects people like this every day. So if you’re my friend, when you’re watching the news or you hear someone talk about immigrants, remember that my family wouldn’t have survived if the people of Persia, and later the UK, had not accepted them and that I would have never have been born. So at least for today, please think about those whose lives are still afflicted by the pains of war.’
Katie Stepek September, 2016
‘For their is hope’
‘We all need an inspiration in our lives, we all need leadership. Through his life, through constantly overcoming obstacles and his quality to sharing Jan Stepek’s life is an inspiring example how to live your life. ‘
A film about Jan Stepek, Katie’s grandfather, by her father Martin Stepek
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