Books for Ukrainian children

Seated student holds science dictionary with other books in her lap
Sofiya Mulyk, a student at St. Nicholas Cathedral School, holds the book she received from the book fair donation.

By Laura Kann, governor of District 6420 (Illinois, USA)

Rotary’s response to the war in Ukraine has been simply incredible. Since the war began in February, Rotarians have opened their hearts to support those effected by the war in many different ways. Many members in my district have also been thinking, what can we do, right here, right now?

In August, I read a front-page article in the Chicago Tribune about Ukrainian refugee children in Chicago and the impact of the war on them and their families. It both broke my heart and spurred me to action, showing me how District 6420 could make a difference for at least some of these children.

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Texas Rotarians let kids be kids at camp for Ukrainian refugees

A child viewed from above assembles a wood block as part of a puzzle of several wood pieces
A child works on a craft project during the four-day recreational camp at Peaceable Kingdom in Killeen, Texas. Photo by Oliver Smith, Rotary Club of Northwest Austin.

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.

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5 ways to help on World Refugee Day

Train station in Pardubic, Czech Republic.
People displaced by the war in Ukraine arrive at a train station in Pardubice, Czech Republic. April 2022.

World Refugee Day, 20 June, is an international day designated by the United Nations to honor refugees around the globe. Members of Rotary and Rotaract clubs have been taking action through a variety of international projects to help raise awareness of the plight of refugees, advocate for humane policies related to refugees, and provide for immediate needs of refugees. Quentin Wodon, Chair of the Rotary Action Group for Refugees, Forced Displacement, and Migration, has written a blog on 5 ways to support newcomers and migrants on the Rotary Service in Action blog. Also read about some of the efforts of Rotary and Rotaract members to support refugees through the years:

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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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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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