Jolanta Kwasniewska (1955) is the spouse of the president of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski, who is currently serving his second term in office. Mrs Kwasniewska has created the image of an active First Lady who is well-educated, modern and elegant. In 1997, she established the Foundation "Communication without barriers", which runs various healthcare related charities promoting the awareness of health issues. One of the many projects run by the foundation is called "The Butterfly Hospitals", which brings new life to interior designs of children's wards nationwide. Another project called "Let's Open the World for Children!" has given many Polish orphans the opportunity to holiday in faraway countries. The "Communication without barriers" foundation finances a number of specialist children's clinics across Poland, including the construction of an oncology and haematology clinic in Gdansk to open in June 2005. Each year, Jolanta Kwasniewska together with her husband grants endowments to outstandingly talented schoolchildren.
Mrs Kwasniewska is a member of the UN Advisory Board - Comité des Sages - which addresses drug abuse. She has received many awards and has been decorated in Poland and internationally in recognition of her commitment to the disabled, children suffering from leukaemia, AIDS patients and drug addicts.
On becoming an Honorary Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador Mrs. Kwasniewska states:
"It seems that in the depth of one's soul each of us remains to be a child until the very end of our lives. Happy moments of our childhood reappear in our memories; they comfort us, give us strength, cheer us up and remind us of the warmth of our family home. How precious became such words whispered by our mother as: "It was so terribly cold. Snow was falling, and it was almost dark. Evening came on, the last evening of the year. In the cold and gloom a poor little girl, bareheaded and barefoot, was walking through the streets."
In a semidarkness of our bedroom an amazing world of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales was entering our mind. A little match girl chilled to the marrow, Kay with an icy heart, a tiny Thumbelina who had no parents and the ugly duckling whom nobody wanted. What a great number of generations of small Poles enjoyed reading about the adventures of these characters! The wisdom and the truth so wonderfully written down in unique works of this outstanding Danish writer taught many how to live, showed the right way to follow in life and still confront the readers with their thoughts. And it so happened in my case. And, even though in adult life the good not always prevails over the evil, it is still worth cherishing in ourselves the values that give us strength to become better human beings.
When we began the Project called "The Butterly Hospitals", carried out by my Foundation "Communication without barriers", the fairy tales were our inspiration. I decided to change the interiors of children's hospitals in Poland into a fairy-tale world and, since then, painted fair-tale characters in a way look after the ill children. In a colourful fairylike and friendly surroundings it hurts less, it is easier to stand the separation from one's family, it is easier to recover.
Hans Christian Andersen, a great friend of children's world, has a very special place in our hearts. I am delighted that I was invited to join the group of Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors and so to take an active part in the celebrations of the 200th Anniversary of the birth of the writer. The artistic works of H.C. Andersen are widely-present in Poland, both in the form of various publications and theatre performances as well as in the Polish language curriculum at our schools. But, first and foremost, Andersen is present in the awareness of the Poles."
Mrs. Kwasniewskas favourite fairytale is "The Wild Swans":
"The fairytale "The Wild Swans" is certainly my favorite one for several reasons. First, it shows how important a love for one's country is, for one' homeland and every piece of land that we know from our childhood and associate with our childhood years. But most of all this fairytale has always been to me a portrayal of a devotion to one's family and a wonderful example of how important our love to our brothers and sisters may be; it shows that this kind love should never fail and that it prevails over bad intentions and evil deeds that we may encounter in our lives. And, even if we sometimes have to sacrifice a lot and suffer for the sake of this love, the story of Elisa and her eleven brothers demonstrates that it is worthwhile. What is more, like in the case of the heroine - Elisa, if we are honest, good and dedicated to the cause, then all the unjust judgments have got a short existence and we may find happiness and peace in our hearts. Of course, being pious is of great significance, too - as for Elisa, it is the faith in God and belief in Him that may give us strength and consolation if needed. I find this fairytale very touching."