Connecting with others through Ukrainian virtual club

Editor’s note: The following personal account is an excerpt from a story about Rotary in Ukraine compiled by Rotary Magazin for Germany and Austria. Past and current conflicts have had a significant impact on Rotary in Ukraine, making members there more resolute.

By Tetiana Godok, president-elect of the Rotary E-Club of Ukraine

Tetiana Godok
Tetiana Godok

My history with Rotary began when I was a senior in high school. The newly formed Rotaract Club of Yalta ambitiously set out to establish an Interact club, and I was fortunate enough to be a part of it.

I didn’t know much about Rotary, and the complex club organization befuddled me at first. But over several months, we visited Interact clubs in Kharkiv and Cherkasy, and I came to learn more about Rotary and gradually immersed myself in the ideas and values of this service organization. With strong convictions about the role I might play, I joined the Rotaract Club of Yalta, serving as president and treasurer, and set a goal to get to know Rotaract all over Europe.

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Austrian aid convoy drives all night to deliver supplies for Ukraine

Members of the Rotaract Club of Klagenfurt-Wörthersee, Austria, collect supplies,
Members of the Rotaract Club of Klagenfurt-Wörthersee, Austria, collect medical supplies, food, sleeping bags, and generators for transport to the Polish-Ukrainian border.

By Sebastian Adami, Rotaract Club Klagenfurt-Wörthersee, Austria

On the evening of 2 March, I set out with a team of Rotaract members and colleagues from six nations to deliver relief supplies to contacts waiting for us near the border of Poland and Ukraine. Our five-vehicle convoy traveled through the night to get there. But we were heartened by the response we saw all around us, people flashing their lights or giving us other signs of encouragement as they saw our relief supply convoy marked by flags that identified what we were doing.

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Editor of Rotary magazine in Ukraine thanks Rotary network for its help

Mykola Stebljanko
Mykola Stebljanko

Editor’s note: The conflict in Ukraine has displaced millions of people and has created a humanitarian crisis across Europe. The following is an interview between Rotary magazine and Mykola Stebljanko, editor of Rotary magazine in Ukraine.

Q: What’s your situation there now?

Stebljanko: I’m now living in Odesa. It’s the third most populist city on the southwest of Ukraine, an important port city on the Black Sea coast. Currently, there’s no military action here yet, but we live under the constant threat of bombs and missiles. Often, air raid sirens will wake us up in the middle of the night. We have to get up and hide in a safe place. You know, in my apartment, the safest place is the bathroom. We huddle together and spend the rest of the night there. Occasionally, we experienced a few rocket attacks, but most of the time, it’s a safe place.

Most of the military actions now center around Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, and Kharkiv. More than a dozen smaller cities are also under attack. The city of Mariupol in the Southeast of Ukraine is under siege. More than 2,500 civilians have died there and close to 400,000 people are trapped in the city. The Russian army stopped anyone from escaping. Many are without electricity, water, and heat.

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Ukrainian describes leaving Kyiv, using Rotary network to help others

By Iryna Bushmina, District 2232 (Ukraine) Rotaract Representative

Iryna Bushmina
Iryna Bushmina

I left Kyiv in the first hours of the war. My sister, her husband, her 3-month-old baby and a cat were in the car. When we reached the border, men were already not allowed to leave the country, so I went on with my sister and a little nephew. We were five days in the car, six days until we got to Vienna.

We stayed for the night in different countries three times. These were not hotels but homes of Rotary and Rotaract families. I used to just say that Rotary International is a big family, now I really believe it. And I am convinced that this is a family that will stand by you. These are no longer beautiful words to me, this is reality.

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Empowering girls in Mexico

Sofia Brega founder of Activators de Paz Cuidad Juarez
Sofia Brega founded Activators de Paz Ciudad Juárez, a group that trains other agents of change and develops Positive Peace content for schools.

By Sofía Brega, Rotary Positive Peace Activator and member of the Rotaract Club of Juárez Centro, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Growing up in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, I always knew I wanted to work on girl empowerment and the rights of women. I wanted to be an activist for women’s rights, and learned about Girl Up, an organization that strives to advance opportunities for girls to be leaders. It’s a club-based initiative that supports projects that focus on women’s rights and builds awareness of current challenges for women in Mexico and elsewhere.

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Rotary members behind International Day of Peace

By David Wick, President, Rotary E-Club of World Peace

International Day of Peace poster
International Day of Peace poster

As members of the Rotary E-Club of World Peace, we will be joining other members and people around the world in participating in the United Nations International Day of Peace on 21 September. It is fitting for us to do so and follow Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta in focusing on “Girls Empowerment and Peace” as a strategy to achieve our common goal. It’s also fitting because several of our members have been promoters of a Peace Day from the very beginning.

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Rotary Peace Fellow reflects on Afghanistan, helping others in crisis

Kiran Sirah Singh at the International Storyelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, USA.

By Kiran Singh Sirah, a 2011-13 Rotary Peace Fellow and president of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, USA

The news coming out of Afghanistan has been painful to watch. So many of these images of suffering — the cargo plane filled with refugees, and especially the image of the baby being passed over barbed wire to a soldier — reminded me of my own family’s experience as refugees. Forty-nine years ago, they were forced to flee their home in Uganda along with 50,000 others, when a murderous dictator threatened them with genocide.

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What the latest IEP report says about world peace

By Michael Collins, Executive Director Americas, Institute for Economics and Peace

In June, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) released its 15th annual Global Peace Index, one of the leading measures of peacefulness globally. Since 2017, the IEP and Rotary have been in a strategic partnership, providing members with new tools to effectively build peace in communities around the world. It has been my pleasure to work with Rotary members as I have been involved in the process of creating a number of global peace indexes.

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Event celebrates 75 years of Rotary and UN

By Mary Eileen Shackleton, 2020-21 governor of District 7230 and multi-district conference convener

I was thrilled to be at the 2020 International Assembly when then Rotary International President-Elect Holger Knaack revealed his presidential theme, “Rotary Opens Opportunities.” Knaack gave those present a small puzzle based upon his theme as a memento. Little did I realize that it would later lead to an epiphany.

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Rotary’s diplomats open opportunities around the world – virtually

By Judith Diment, Dean of the Rotary Representative Network

Judith Diment

We are well into this Rotary year and what a year it has been for the Rotary Representatives to the United Nations and other international organizations! As Rotary’s “ambassadors” to 22 UN and key agencies, our work normally is to meet strategic personnel and develop relationships that are conducive to working together on Rotary’s areas of focus. This is not an easy task in the midst of a pandemic. Like all Rotarians, we have had to adapt to doing things differently through virtual meetings – it’s diplomacy via the internet!

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