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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?”
I grew up in the city of Dnipro in the eastern part of Ukraine with my father, who is Ukrainian and my mother, who is Russian. When I was 21, I moved to Japan to study while working for a water distillation company in Hiroshima city.
Soon after, I met Masashi, an active member of the Rotary Club of Hiroshima Southwest. We now have three teenage boys. It was through my husband that I came to know Rotary. Seven years ago, we traveled to Vietnam and support orphanages there through his club.
By Tetiana Godok, president-elect of the Rotary E-Club of Ukraine
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.
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.
By Jeremy Opperman, Rotary Club of Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa
Like countless others, I watched, read, and listened in impotent and morbid fascination at the horrors unfolding in Ukraine. But one rather different interview caught my ear, while listening to the BBC.
It was the manager of the Ukrainian winter Paralympic team, still competing in Beijing at the time. Speaking in fluent English, with exhausted clarity and indelible sadness etched into every syllable, he tried to articulate how the team members were feeling about their country literally disintegrating in their absence.
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.