By Jaymie White
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
ROSE BLANCHE - HARBOUR LE COU — Ask anyone on the Southwest Coast of Newfoundland about community support for those impacted by Hurricane Fiona and they will all give you the same answer: overwhelming. That same spirit of generosity that has come from around the globe has been reflected on a local level too. Bogdan Wasaznik has already delivered over 700 loaves of home baked fresh bread, and will not stop baking and delivering his mouthwatering loaves as long as the need remains.
Wasaznik did not undertake this self-appointed mission for any recognition, but instead because he genuinely wanted to help those who have lost so much.
“I survived. I was here by myself in the house for two days that weekend. Anything could’ve happened, but it didn’t happen. I was so pleased, but I said – when I saw the news and how many people were now homeless – my mixer and everything is in place, everything is fine, and somebody told me to do it, so I started doing it,” said Wasaznik. “I feel good if I help somebody, especially those people, some who lost everything. I am pleased to know that they know somebody cares about them. Lots of people, not just me, the whole country was caring, and it was my pleasure to be part of it and I didn’t want anything back. It was the pleasure that these people knew people helped them and they are not alone.”
Wasaznik works as quickly as he can to get as much bread finished as possible, but he said he will never sacrifice quality for quantity. That means taking the time to get each loaf just right, and that is a considerable sacrifice given how much bread he makes every day.
“I have to make sure the bread is the highest quality that I can do. That’s why I cook four loaves of bread at a time, and those four loaves take about a half hour. So if you count just how much time it takes for 50 loaves of bread a day, how much time you need just to bake, never mind mixing, never mind the preparation, that's why I needed the night too. The day was too short. Sometimes I wish the day was 48 hours, not 24,” said Wasaznik. “Sometimes, in the beginning, I would bake all night to get the bread by noon or so in Port aux Basques and other communities. It’s a small bakery. I can only do so much bread as needed, so all day long and sometimes all night. Somebody giving bread, somebody giving a piece of meat, somebody giving a pair of socks, that’s what it’s all about. It’s a big help for those people who need it.”
Wasaznik completed school to learn baking in Germany, and the philosophy he learned there is one he has carried with him to his new life in Canada.
“The philosophy of the bakery that they teach us is, ‘it’s not business, it’s service.’ The police have a service for the community, the church, the bakery,” said Wasaznik. “I have a business in the west, in British Columbia, and if somebody was in need, I would give them bread on the house to help them out. If people are in need, you have to help. That’s what I was taught, and that’s my philosophy of what I’m doing too.”
Even as things have slowly started to get back to normal, Wasaznik still delivers bread about once a week.
“The symbol of bread is, if you have bread on the table, you’re not going to be hungry, and I believe it. That’s why I started making this bread for people. If they have a loaf of bread, they’re not going to be hungry no matter what.”
Baking this large a quantity of bread gets extremely expensive, and even though he had a budget to keep him up and running, Wasaznik has been also receiving help from the community. It has definitely helped make a difference, especially given the skyrocketing cost of groceries and other goods.
“There’s a lot of good people who have been helping me,” said Wasaznik. “I got some donations from people, and some flour from people to make my life easier, because it can be very pricey.”
Even though Wasaznik was fortunate enough not to lose his home during Fiona, he is more able to understand what people are going through than one might expect.
“When I was 19, right after high school, I left Poland. It was a Communist regime at that time, because I don’t agree with a lot of ideas of communism, so I had to leave the country because there was no future for me. So right after high school I left Poland, and went to West Germany at that time, looking for a new home, new life, new beliefs, new everything,” recalled Wasaznik. “I was so afraid and scared to go to the towns or the cities because I was scared they would turn me back to Poland, and then I am done. It’s over with everything. I lost everything – my country, my parents, my house. I lost everything and I was looking for a new home and a new life.”
Wasaznik spent three days and four nights walking on the highway, afraid to go into a community to get food or water, but hope did come, just from the most unlikely of places.
“The second or third day, for some reason out of nowhere, I saw a piece of a baguette, a nice baguette laying down on the highway. I grabbed the baguette and started eating and it was kind of fresh. It wasn’t laying down for a couple months or so, and then I got that feeling that I’m not alone, somebody is looking after me, somebody up there is trying to help me make it,” said Wasaznik. “So I’m not just making bread for people. It has nothing to do with that. The point was that somebody is still trying to help.”
Jaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wreckhouse Weekly News