Rotary clubs, Peace Corps volunteers support Ukrainian refugees

Supplies to refugees
A young volunteer (in white) helps distribute supplies to Ukrainian refugees in Moldova.

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. 

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Helping Ukraine, one drill set at a time

Emory Morsberger, surgeon, with drill set
Emory Morsberger delivers the drill set to a surgical team at the hospital in Kiev in June.

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.

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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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Through Rotary’s shared efforts, ‘peace will come’

Dr. Olha Paliychuk at convention
Dr. Olha Paliychuk, a gynecologist and Cherkasy Regional Oncologist in Ukraine, speaks at the general session of the Rotary International Convention in Houston 6 June. Photo by Monika Lozinska/Rotary International

Editor’s note: The following is an adapted version of Dr. Olha Paliychuk’s remarks to the Rotary International Convention in  Houston, 6 June 2022

By Olha Paliychuk, Rotary Club of Cherkasky, Ukraine

I live and work in central Ukraine, not far from Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv. It was a long journey getting to convention: first by bus to the border of Poland, and then across the border and taking a long flight. But all the efforts are worth it.  As we say in Ukraine, “To see a friend, no road is too long.” 

I’m very honored – and happy – to be in Houston with my Rotary family and friends. I stand here on behalf of more than 1,000 Rotary members in Ukraine to say Thank You.

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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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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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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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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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