By Dan Parks, Rotary Club of Wilmington East, North Carolina, USA
At the end of December, two Ukrainian families arrived in North Carolina, USA, after a whirlwind departure from Kyiv on Christmas day. They traveled through Warsaw and Chicago enroute to North Carolina. It’s been a busy three weeks as I’ve helped get the mothers signed up for Medicaid and their children enrolled in school or settled into daycare.
In late September, I was contacted by a representative from Welcome.US, a nonpartisan national initiative in the United States that was created to inspire, mobilize, and empower Americans from all corners of the country to support those seeking refuge here. The program started in September 2021 to assist those fleeing Afghanistan, but it has since expanded to embrace refugees from the war in Ukraine. Welcome.US is collaborating with Rotary to find hosts for refugee families.
By Shannon Coleman, governor of District 5870 Central Texas, USA
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the United Nations estimates that more than 14 million people are thought to have fled their homes. We began hearing about some of these families through our Ukrainian community here is Central and South-Central Texas. Children are entering our school systems with only the clothes on their backs. Many of the families have experienced violence, war, a shortage of food, water or shelter, personal injury, and disease.
Wanting to help, Rotarians in our district applied for a Disaster Response Grant from The Rotary Foundation to work with Peaceable Kingdom by Variety, a children’s retreat/camp in Killeen, for a three-night, four-day recreational experience over the Labor Day weekend. We imagined a space where the Ukrainian families could connect with their community, step away from the reminders of war, and take a much-needed deep breath. We wanted to give the children a place to explore, laugh and just be kids.
By Kim Dixon, Rotary Club of Raleigh Midtown, North Carolina, USA
When I served in the Peace Corps in the Republic of Georgia from 2014-2016, I engaged with the International Rotary Club of Tbilisi to support several service projects. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer – and now a Rotary member of the Rotary Club of Raleigh Midtown – I am proud to help integrate our shared service goals as the current President of Partnering for Peace, a nonprofit that promotes and supports the formal service partnership between Rotary International and US Peace Corps.
By Emory Morsberger, Rotary Club of Gwinnett County, Georgia, USA
Isn’t it a privilege to be a Rotarian who can actually serve others and make a difference in someone else’s life – and even more so if that life is on the other side of the world? I think so! I hope to rally fellow Rotarians on 24 August to join our movement, Helping Ukraine.
In 1998, I took a trip to Ukraine and have been yearning to go back since. The people there are so excited about their freedom. When the war broke out in February, I felt a strong call to do something to help these free-spirited people. I had been hearing about the massive destruction and wanted to do more than make donations.
By Alexander Ostrovski, a member of the Rotary Club of Dortmund-Romberge and director of the Phoenix Music Academy
Having grown up in Crimea, when it was both a part of the Soviet Union and then Ukraine, I was shocked when I saw the news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
From 2002 to 2008, I worked professionally with the Ukrainian national chamber orchestra, and before that, spent half my life in Moscow. I studied at the Moscow Conservatory where my colleagues were Russians and Ukrainians. Our differences didn’t matter. Ours is the musical tradition of Tchaikovsky, Pushkin, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy. The brutal attacks that began 24 February trampled on this beautiful culture. In many ways, I feel personally attacked by the war.