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Polish consul to honor 5 local residents for service

The New-York-City-based Polish consul will be in Buffalo today to present medals from the Polish president to local people for their service to the country an eye doctor, a former Polish soldier, supporters of Polish orphanages and the owner of a Polish newspaper.

The distinctions, which come in different levels, go to people who do something for Poland or who promote the image of Poland, said Przemyslaw Balcerzyk, the deputy consul.

He will join Consul General Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, who will present the honors at the St. Stanislaus Social Center, 389 Peckham St., as part of an evening banquet by the local Polish American Congress, which nominated the five honorees to the Polish government.

Three will receive the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland:

*Dr. Amarjit Atwal, a local ophthalmologist and native of India, who since the early 1990s has visited Poland to teach and perform more than 50 surgeries on trips to Gdansk, Warsaw and Krakow.

After Poland's independence from Russia and Communist rule, he started a fund called Sight for Poland and covered the expenses for three Polish patients who traveled to the U.S. for surgery. He also arranged for a teaching microscope for the Collegium Medicum at Jagiellonian University and a laser to treat diabetic eye disease in Gdansk.

*Stanley Markut is a former soldier of the Polish Armed Forces of the West, fighting outside Poland, against the Nazis, during World War II.

*Irene Harzewski, a Buffalo-born, Polish-American activist, co-founder and co-owner of the Am-Pol Eagle weekly newspaper.

Two will receive the Gold Cross of Merit:

*Jozefa Solecki is one of the oldest members of the Polish American Congress, who raised money for Polish orphanages and the Solidarity movement.

*Christine Jozwiak also was a fundraiser for orphanages in Poland during the Communist years.

Founded in 1944, the Polish American Congress represents more than 200,000 Polish-Americans in Western New York.