There are times when events in the world leave you speechless. As I watched the news from Turkey and Syria following the devastating earthquakes there, I found myself in disbelief and despair as, day after day, the number of casualties and missing grew. I have friends who live very close to the epicenter, and I have not heard from them. I hold out hope that I will.
My friendships go back decades to when we were teenagers, living in Paris, and our parents were working in France as expatriates. After our parents decided to return to our countries of origin, we stayed in contact loosely through phone and mail.
Editor’s Note: In December 2021, Super Typhoon Rai hit the Philippines with gusts of up to 240 kilometers per hour, the equivalent of a category 5 hurricane. ShelterBox worked closely with Rotary contacts, local partners, international response teams and the Philippines Navy. Bernard Vonn Sia was part of a disaster response team working with ShelterBox.
By Bernard Vonn Sia, Rotary Club of Cebu, Philippines
As the son of a Rotary member, I was exposed to the organization very early. I thought of it as a group of like-minded people who wanted to help the poor. It wasn’t until I joined the Rotary Club of Cebu sometime later that I realized Rotary was about more than that. Rotary is about coming together to share our time, talent, and resources to better humanity. Giving becomes a pleasure, as we collaborate with other organizations to use our different strengths and competencies to save lives and build a better future.
By Dr. John Philip, a member of the Rotary Club of Newbury, Berkshire, England, and Chair of the International Fellowship of Healthcare Professionals
I recently traveled 1,350 miles from my home in Newbury, South England, through France, Germany, and Poland to the Ukraine border. My role was mainly one of providing navigation for the relief supplies we were delivering. I was joined by two Scottish colleagues, each driving a van packed tight with 120 boxes of vital medical equipment.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some trepidation about the journey, but it was one I felt compelled to make. I felt a deep sense of personal responsibility, both to the Rotary members who’ve generously supported the International Fellowship of Healthcare Professionals’ relief work, and to all the Ukrainians whose lives this equipment could ultimately save.
By Emory Morsberger, Rotary Club of Gwinnett County, Georgia, USA
In August I wrote about my June 2022 trip to Ukraine, where I saw firsthand the devastation families were facing as they struggled to survive in the midst of war. A lot has happened since then.
In conjunction with the first anniversary of the war, teams from the nonprofit we established, HelpingUkraine.us, will be installing 45 new generators across Ukraine’s frontlines and in impacted cities and rural villages. It will be our nonprofit’s third mission in 2023.
By John Hewko, General Secretary and CEO of Rotary International
Today is the one-year anniversary of the tragic war in Ukraine. It’s a war that never should have started. And it’s a conflict that has evolved into a non-stop humanitarian catastrophe because the Russia strategy is now to inflict as much pain on the civilian population of Ukraine as possible.
For a peace-based, humanitarian organization like Rotary, this type of conflict is heartbreaking. Yesterday was our 118th anniversary, and throughout our history, Rotary has always stood on the side of promoting peace and rebuilding from the ashes of destruction. Peace is a central goal of Rotary, and we work tirelessly to help avoid and stop armed conflicts. Our focus is on helping people in need and creating the conditions for lasting peace.