Poland's First Lady meets with head of Lithuania's only children's hospice

Wojciech Olkuśnik/PAP

Poland's First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda, accompanying the Polish president on his Lithuanian visit, met in Vilnius with Sister Michaela Rak, a Polish nun who runs the country's only children's hospice, co-funded by Poland.

The new hospice for children, opened in February as part of the Blessed Father Michal Sopocko Vilnius Hospice for adults.

Kornhauser-Duda thanked Sister Rak for running the hospice during the pandemic. "The institution in Vilnius enjoys great trust among patients and their families, and functions and develops thanks to the extraordinary commitment of its founder, staff, volunteers and donors," the Polish president's wife said. She added that the newly opened facility was "extremely needed and long awaited" and can be used by young patients from all over Lithuania.

Initially, the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus, to which Sister Rak belongs, cared for palliative patients in their homes, while at the same time trying to establish a hospice that would provide the sick with 24-hour care. Currently, the congregation runs an Inpatient Department and a Home Hospice which attends to the personal care needs of 36 patients. The Hospice for Children has six patients aged 3 to 14 under its care.

For her social work, Sister Rak has received from President Andrzej Duda one of Poland's major state distinctions, the Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta.