April 30, 2022

Contributed by Kim Widlicki, Claudia Brunner, and Dan Hall

(Editors Note: The following article was released by The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. While the article mentions donations by Rotary members all concerned persons are encouraged to support this Disaster Relief Fund. Noteworthy, is the fact that every dollar contributed has direct oversight by The Rotary Foundation and the Rotary clubs in the Eastern European countries impacted by the Russian war on Ukraine. Not one dollar is spent on advertising or other administrative expenses. Dan Hall, Past Rotary District Governor of Northern Missouri.)

In response to the deepening humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, The Rotary Foundation has created an official channel for donors around the world to contribute funds to support the relief efforts underway by Rotary districts and has designated its Disaster Response Fund as the main avenue for contributions.

To this end, The Rotary Foundation has approved:
• Now through 30 June 2022, designated Rotary districts that border Ukraine and the Rotary district in Ukraine may apply for grants of up to $50,000 each from the Disaster Response Fund. These expedited disaster response grants can be used to provide relief to refugees or other victims of the crisis including items such as water, food, shelter, medicine and clothing.
• During this same period, other impacted Rotary districts that wish to offer support to refugees or other victims of the crisis can apply for $25,000 grants from the Disaster Response Fund.
• Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund in support of Ukraine can be made

In addition to support provided through the Disaster Response Fund, the Foundation is coordinating with partners and regional leaders, exploring effective solutions to the increased humanitarian needs.
• We are in contact with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees – USA to prepare for and respond to the needs of those being displaced in Ukraine and to neighboring countries.
• ShelterBox, our project partner for disaster response, is in communication with Rotary members in Eastern Europe to explore how it may offer support with temporary transitional housing and other essential supplies.
• The Rotary Action Group for Refugees, Forced Displacement, and Migration is also mobilizing its resources to assist in this crisis
• More than 2 million people have fled Ukraine and are in dire need of emergency aid. The United Nations estimates that number could grow to as many as 5 million people displaced. Rotary clubs in Europe and around the world have stepped up their relief work, some working on the ground to help displaced families.

The fund, to date, has received more than $10.4 million in contributions.

Below are some of the latest projects as of 20 April, 2022

Ukrainian Rotary clubs take action

The Rotary Club of Cherkasy purchased and delivered medical supplies and medicine to multiple local hospitals. The club has also organized daily meals for 250 evacuated families from Sumy, Herson, Kharkiv, and Chernihiv.

• Some members of the Rotary Club of Kharkiv International have traveled to border countries to help refugees adapt to their new situations. Members are also working, through their project Yellow Help, to evacuate families near war zones.
• Club members of the Rotary Club of Kyiv Synergy collected 350 boxes of medical supplies from Italy and distributed them to areas in Kyiv and Sumy.
• The Rotary Club of Kyiv-Sophia are preparing and delivering hot meals to residents of Kyiv and Irpen-Bucha. Members have purchased and delivered hygiene products and medicine to young mothers and the elderly.
• Members of the Rotary Club of Lviv are unloading and organizing relief aid from European countries, then facilitating delivery to several humanitarian hubs across the country.
• Clubs in Rotary District 2231 (Poland) are using a $50,000 disaster response grant to provide transportation, accommodations, food, and medical assistance for refugees who crossed the border from Ukraine.
• Rotary District 2240 in the Czech Republic is purchasing $50,000 worth of sleeping bags, medicine, food, and defibrillators, EKGs, and oxygen concentrators to victims.
• Rotary District governors in Germany created a national task force to coordinate member initiatives and relief efforts on an online platform. A liaison office for government agencies and nongovernmental organizations has been established in Berlin.
• Rotary clubs throughout France have mobilized to collect and distribute necessities to refugees. District governors are coordinating donations from French clubs to help Rotary clubs in Ukraine as well as to assist refugees traveling through Poland and Romania or taking refuge in those countries. The needs are determined by the France-Ukraine, France-Poland, and France-Romania-Moldova intercountry committees.
• District 1910 in Austria is using a $25,000 disaster response grant to provide accommodations, baby supplies, medicine, hygiene materials, psychological care, food, and appliances to Ukrainian refugees in Austria.

Ukraine has 62 Rotary clubs and six satellite clubs with about 1,100 members, and 24 Rotaract clubs with more than 300 members.

• District 2232 (Ukraine and Belarus) formed a committee to help people affected by the crisis. It has launched an appeal to Rotary members worldwide for funds to provide basic necessities.
• The city of Lviv has had an influx of people displaced from other cities around Ukraine. The Rotary Club of Lviv International, working with local authorities and major hospitals, created an online spreadsheet of relief items that can be accessed by people who want to help. Members arrange for the donated items to be delivered to hospitals and coordinate storage with local warehouses.

Poland has taken in more than a million refugees, and Rotary clubs all over the country created a central account for contributions.

• The Rotary Club of Olsztyn is collecting and managing donations for more than 150 Ukrainians who are staying at Ostróda Camp, a conference and recreation center. Most of the occupants are unaccompanied children whose parents stayed in Ukraine. Four cars full of supplies including food, clothes, toiletries, and toys were donated hours after the center began accepting refugees.
• Members of the Rotary Club of Zamosc worked with a member of the Rotary Club of Wolsztyn, who owns a medical supply distribution company, to coordinate a partnership with other organizations to collect supplies and equipment.
• The Rotary Club of Gdansk Centrum is providing accommodations for four refugee families, and members who own businesses are offering them work.

Other countries that border Ukraine
• The Rotary Club of Kisvárda, Hungary, is coordinating contributions and mobilizing members to donate necessities and deliver the items to where they’re needed.
• Rotary members in Romania and Moldova have created a central fund for contributions and set up WhatsApp groups that organize food donations and coordinate shelter for refugees.
• In Slovakia and the Czech Republic, clubs have partnered with a railway and cargo company to offer transportation to nearly 2,300 refugees.