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.
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:
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.