President Hannah's May Message.
One of the things I love most about Rotary is that it is truly international, with more than 46,000 clubs in over 200 countries and territories.
This means that anytime something happens in the world, the Rotary network can be activated for support. We’re seeing this most recently in response to the conflict in Ukraine.
“I used to just say that Rotary International is a big family, now I really believe it. And I am convinced that this is a family that will stand by you,” says Ukrainian Rotaract Representative Iryna Bushmina, who fled to Vienna and was supported by Rotarians in Europe.
As of the time I’m writing this, The Rotary Foundation has raised more than $10 million dollars from generous donors worldwide to provide food, medicine, clothing and shelter for the people forced to leave their homes in Ukraine.
More than 1,100 Rotarians lived in Ukraine before the February invasion from Russia and they have helped deliver medical supplies to hospitals, evacuate families from war zones and organize incoming relief aid, among other activities.
Fellow Rotarians around the world have stepped up to help. Rotaractors from Austria partnered with colleagues in six other countries to organize two convoys of relief supplies to the Poland and Ukraine border, bringing back women and children who had fled.
In partnership with the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America, Rotary has helped send two cargo planes full of medical equipment from Chicago to Europe, where supplies are then distributed to Ukraine.
Rotaract Europe has lined up more than 2,000 host families to take in refugees. Through Rotary connections, members like Per Høyen of the Rotary Club of Aarup, Denmark, have welcomed Ukrainian refugees into their homes.
Almost daily updates on the Rotary in Ukraine Facebook page show acts of support from purchasing an ambulance to ensuring Ukrainians affected could still celebrate Easter.
As Sunrisers, we responded to District Governor Dana Moldovan’s call for donations to Rotarians in her home country of Romania who are supporting refugees.
In my years of working for disaster relief organizations Direct Relief and ShelterBox (both of which are responding to this crisis), I learned that building the relationships and networks in advance of a disaster or crisis is critical to rapid and effective response.
These connections are naturally built by nature of the global Rotary network and as Rotarians, we can all be proud to be a part of the effort to get relief where it is needed and continue to work toward peace.