In 1961 Sixten and Karin Widerstedt learned to know Waclaw Rosowski who was an Pole in exile who previously had been imprisoned for five years in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz for his resistance against the German occupation. Sixten and Karin engaged in Waclaws work to send care packages to friends and family in Poland.
From 1961 until 1981 Sixten, Karin and their friends helped Waclaw to send packages to Poland. In 1981, it became easier for Swedes to obtain a visa to travel to Poland. Waclaw asked Waclaw his friends Sixten and Karin if they could ask for an offertory in Vikingstad Missions congregation that they were members. The offerory would go to an aid shipment to Waclaws old home church in Lublin in Poland. The pastor in the Mission congregation responded to Waclaws wish and he made not one but two offertories for the purpose. They bought food and clothes for the money that was collected. Waclaw then asked his friends Sixten and Karin to go to Poland in his place. Sixten and Karin said yes to Waclaws desire. The trip to Lublin became very adventurous and when finally could take a breather on the ferry back to Sweden Sixten and Karin decided to continue to ship relief supplies from Sweden to Poland.
The desire and the vision to help other people grew and spread to more people. The Work on their own and neighbors’ homes as a base was growing. The car and the trailer was soon traded to a truck. For more than ten years 100s of aid shipments were sent from Linköping to Poland. The name Heart to Heart come from a moment when the then Polish Minister of Social Affairs spoke to the Swedish people in a television program in 1982. He thanked for all the relief consignments that came to Poland from Sweden and said:
– Please, do not dump the aid transmissions outside the nearest church. There is a risk that the aid will not come to those who need it most. The gifts must go from heart to heart.
Sixten took to the last sentence to his heart and gave the aid work the name Heart to Heart. In 1991 when Sixten retired from his job as headmaster, the association Heart to Heart was formed. Sixten worked as an unpaid director for about 10 years before others took over. Although Sixten has resigned as a direktor for Heart to Heart we continue to work in his spirit and let the aid go from heart to heart. When the needs in Poland was saturated after the country became free from communism. Our work was relocated to other countries in need, mainly Albania, Estonia, Latvia, Romania and Russia.
The 27th february 2014 the founder of Heart to Heart Sixten Widerstedt received European Solidarity Center Gratitude Medal from the Polish Consul Barbara Sośnicka during a ceremony in Linköping Castle in the presence of his wife, Karin, children Peter and Annika and the Governor Elisabeth Nilsson and his friends and colleagues from Heart to Heart. The Gratitude medal is awarded to foreign nationals who supported Poland in the struggle for freedom and democracy during the communist times.
Click the following link if you want to see more pictures from the medal ceremony: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hth1991/sets/72157641650801095/