As we come out with another quarterly issue of Rotaract News during these challenging times when the world is tentatively saying goodbye to the most deadly viral pandemic we have seen in our lifetime, and hoping against hope that we are nearing the end of that dark tunnel, yet another darkness has descended on our world — the brutal attack on Ukraine. But it took little time for Ukraine’s Rotarians to get their act together and several clubs and senior Rotarians in the beleaguered country rose above the threat to them and their families to organise help, through Rotary in Europe as well as Rotary International, for Ukrainians rendered homeless and hopeless by the persistent bombarding of their cities.
We at Rotary News were monitoring the situation in Ukraine, the work done by Rotarians and carried RI’s appeal to Rotarians to contribute to the special fund set up for the devastated Ukrainians. We also came across a remarkable blog on the RI website written by a Rotaractor from Ukraine — DRR Iryna Bushmina, RI Distrct 2232. In her blog she described how she fled from her city of Kyiv in the “first hours of the war”, with her sister, her husband, her baby and a cat. At the border only the women and child were allowed to leave the country, and as her sister was driving, young Iryna thought that just like her so many others would be requiring help. So why not mobilise the Rotaractors of Europe to help those affected by the attacks? Her sister was driving, her hands were free, so she started texting groups that included Rotaractors. Many of the youngsters responded immediately and help was organised for the affected through numerous little projects. In no time she built up a team of 100.
In another equally inspiring story told through a blog on www.rotary.org, Sebastian Adami, another Rotaractor from Austria, described how on the evening of March 2, he set out, along with a team of Rotaractors and colleagues from six nations, “to deliver relief supplies to contacts waiting for us near the border of Poland and Ukraine.” The youngster quickly organised a fundraising campaign with help from other members of his club, they collected relief supplies for both civilians and hospitals and their five-vehicle convoy travelled through the night for 14 hours, traversing a distance of over 1,100km and reached close to the border of Ukraine and Poland. The relief material was handed over to other volunteers and from there “the relief goods were transported to Kyiv, Kharkiv and Zhytomyr. We unloaded the goods and agreed to bring back with us some people who had fled the conflict, mainly women and children, exhausted but relieved they had made it to safety after many hours on the road. Before we got back, we were already receiving photos and videos showing that our donations had arrived at hospitals and locations in need.”
Enthused by this success, the Rotaractor organised yet another convoy; now he looks back at both the missions with great satisfaction, and says, “We were one of the first aid convoys from Austria to bring goods to Ukraine. We helped as much as we could, without hesitating, with the help of our Rotaract and Rotary contacts.”
Read both those inspiring stories in this issue.