Academy enables gifted Ukrainian musicians to continue their dreams

Music students
More than 40 gifted young musicians from Ukraine are continuing their education through the Phoenix Music Academy in Dortmund, Germany.

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.

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Lessons in generosity from rural Africa

Members of the Rotary Club of Yumbe, Uganda, participate in a community clean-up project in Achiba village.
Members of the Rotary Club of Yumbe, Uganda, participate in a community clean-up project in Achiba village.

By Helene Dudley, past president of the Rotary Club of Coconut Grove, Florida, USA

My eyes filled with tears as I attended  a Zoom meeting of the Yumbe, Uganda provisional Rotary Club discussing a service project they were planning to help a nearby village. I reached out in chat to another participant of the meeting who admitted she too was tearing up. The club is not yet officially recognized by Rotary International and the women are well below the poverty line but they are already doing service projects.

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Hungarian club overcomes challenges to help Ukraine

Rotary Club of Budapest-Margitsziget,
Members of the Rotary Club of Budapest-Margitsziget, Hungary, with supplies they collected for Ukraine.

By Beatrix Turner, Rotary Club of Budapest-Margitsziget, Hungary

My Rotary club wanted to do our part to help the people of Ukraine after hearing about the terrible war in their country. We were honored to be able to join three other clubs, Berlin-Gendarmenmarkt, Germany, Paris-Quai d’Orsay, France, and Milano Sud-Ovest, Italy, to coordinate an €18,000 project to collect and deliver donations to help Ukrainian refugees.

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Working with Habitat to provide a place to live

By Randy Bretz, Rotary Club of Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

Martha and her family
Martha and her family will receive a home thanks to the efforts of the Rotary Club of Lincoln, Nebraska, working in partnership with Habit for Humanity.

A woman from Africa and her six children will soon have a new home in Lincoln, Nebraska, thanks to our Rotary club and Habitat for Humanity of Lincoln.

Construction will begin soon on the home for Martha and her children, giving them a place to live that isn’t cramped and even with a yard for the family to enjoy. Martha’s salary can only afford a two-bedroom apartment, but with the help of nearly $40,000 from our club, Habitat for Humanity will be able to construct a three-bedroom home on a lot in Lincoln that she can afford to buy.

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Suddenly, the war knocked on our door

Oksana Havryliv and volunteers
Oksana Havryliv takes a selfie with some of the volunteers bringing medicine, food and other relief supplies to be reloaded and distributed. Photo by Oksana Havryliv

By Oksana Havryliv, Rotaract Club of Lviv International

Before the war, I was a student in international relations at the university in Ukraine and had been pursuing a master’s degree in political science through the University of Vienna. I dreamed of becoming a diplomat and representing Ukraine. I was busy with studies, planning my life, and hanging out with friends, especially those in Rotaract. That all changed on 24 February when Russia invaded my country and the bombs began to fall.

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Rotaract and Rotary serving together

Ignacio Gonzales Mendez in front of One Rotary Center
Ignacio Gonzales Mendez in front of One Rotary Center during a meeting of the Elevate Rotaract Task Force in 2020

By Ignacio Gonzalez Mendez, a member of the Rotaract Club of Oriente de Talca, Chile

I must confess, I didn’t set out to find Rotary. Rotary found me. I became involved in Rotary through a series of fortunate events which has changed the way I look at everything.

When I was 13, I volunteered for the Red Cross and that experience led me years later to create a project to establish a first-aid station in my high school. At my graduation ceremony, I was surprised with an award from the local Rotary club for my volunteer work with the Red Cross. The award was in honor of one of my teachers, who passed away unexpectedly. Receiving the award and knowing that my teacher had appreciated my efforts gave me more inspiration to keep volunteering.

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Rotary clubs in Lviv find hope, strength in solidarity

Pallets of supplies for the relief effort
Volunteers stand in front of pallets in one of several warehouses in Lviv set up for relief supplies.

By Orest Semotiuk, Chair of the Public Relations Committee of the Rotary Club of Lviv International, and a member of the District 2232 Public Relations Committee

Orest Semotiuk
Orest Semotiuk

The morning of 24 February began roughly as any normal morning would. I woke up, went for a jog, and had breakfast. While eating breakfast, however, I heard the news on the radio that Russian bombs were falling on my country, Ukraine.

I immediately called a few friends and acquaintances in other cities to find out how they were doing. Fortunately, most of them were unharmed and safe. Then in the afternoon, a TV station from Regensburg, Germany, where I had spent time during a research assignment in 2018, called me for a comment. Then more media, with an avalanche of requests, and my real work started.

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Using our unique talents in Rotaract

Martinez Belo with friend
Maria Valentina Martinez Belo (left) poses with one of the models for the Project Rosa fashion show that benefits cancer patients.

By Maria Valentina Martinez Belo, Rotaract Club of Ing. Boris Walter, Venezuela

We all have different talents. It’s what makes each of us special and unique. I have always felt a strong desire to organize big events and use my creativity to help others and make them feel special. Through Rotaract, I have been able to do that, changing my life and those of the people I have been able to serve.

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From Ukraine to Denmark: 17-year-old refugee finds a home with Rotarians

Artem Ziablov looks over his new clothes, courtesy of a merchant in Denmark.
Artem Ziablov looks over his new clothes, courtesy of a merchant in Denmark.

Editors note: Like many Rotary members, Rotary Foundation Trustee Per Høyen, a member of the Rotary Club of Aarup, Denmark, had a desire to take action in response to the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Through the Rotary network, he and his wife learned of a 17-year-old Ukrainian refugee, Artem Ziablov, temporarily staying in Germany. In this second of two blog posts, Artem shares his journey from Ukraine to his new host family in Denmark.

By Artem Ziablov

I am a student of Karazin Kharkiv National University where I am in the first year of my studies for a bachelor’s degree in math and computer science. One week before the war started, my mother took me from Kharkiv to Irpin, a city in the Kyiv region, where I lived before my studies. On the morning of 24 February at five in the morning my mother woke me up to tell me that the war had started and that the country was under attack. I looked out the window and heard the bombs being dropped on Gostomel airport, 10 kilometers from our house. Ukrainian fighters were in the sky very close to us and Ukrainian missiles were firing at Russian troops, so it was very scary to stay there.

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Millions of drops make a difference for Ukraine refugees

Editors note: Like many Rotary members, Rotary Foundation Trustee Per Høyen, a member of the Rotary Club of Aarup, Denmark, had a desire to take action in response to the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Through the Rotary network, he and his wife learned of a 17-year-old Ukrainian refugee, Artem Ziablov, staying in Germany. In this blog post, the first of two parts, Høyen shares their decision to welcome Artem into their home.

Per Hoyen
Per Hoyen

By Per Høyen, Rotary Foundation Trustee

Like most of the world, my wife and I were concerned when we heard of the buildup of Russian military on the Ukraine border. As a Rotary Director, I had been to Ukraine six years ago for a club charter and have Rotary friends in Ukraine. Knowing that my friends were in danger was awful. The day the invasion happened was very hard for us. And seeing the pictures of what was happening brought tears to our eyes. We asked, “who could do this to small children?”

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