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Rotary in Ukraine stronger two years after war began

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District 2232 is working to identify needs, connect with Rotary clubs worldwide, and support those affected by the war


Two years after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, Rotary members around the globe continue to raise funds and send medicine, fuel, and other essential supplies to those affected by the conflict.

A special relief fund created by The Rotary Foundation, now closed to contributions, raised more than US$17.4 million from donors around the world and has funded 375 grants that have allowed Rotary members to provide different kinds of help.

In addition, many Rotary clubs and districts have organized local humanitarian response initiatives. Guided by District 2232 (Ukraine), these efforts have directed shipments of medicine, medical equipment, ambulances, generators, heating fuel, winter supplies, and other relief to communities in need.

Mykola Stebljanko, a past governor of District 2232, says the huge response since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 has strengthened Rotary in Ukraine.

“We have become more active, more effective. We are a more solid organization now,” Stebljanko says. “We receive a lot of requests from our communities. Lots of outside clubs want to help us. People see this and ... want to join Rotary.”

Stebljanko says clubs in Ukraine have added more than 500 new members in the past two years. The growth has been so rapid, in fact, that the district spends comparatively little time on intentional efforts to attract members. It uses that time instead to help new members understand what it means to be a member of Rotary so they will remain engaged.

The increased service efforts have also drawn media attention.

“Before the war, the media did not want to mention us in the news,” Stebljanko says. “At the moment, they like to tell about Rotary because of the help we are giving and because our activities are very impactful.”

Myron Uhryn, 2023-24 governor of District 2232, has spent months collecting detailed reports from all regions of Ukraine to document and guide the relief efforts. These analytics, he says, will help his district collaborate with members outside Ukraine who want to help — but may not know how.

District 2232 has also formed a committee to help organize the efforts of clubs and districts outside the country, connecting them with clubs in Ukraine to support those affected by the war.

Uhryn says he receives dozens of letters every day from people all over the world offering their assistance. On a recent video call, he held up a stack of mail he had received just that morning.

“It is why we started collecting analytics,” he says. “It is very useful to understand the total situation and exchange information. It makes us more effective, more able to have an impact. We want to continue our network and partnership with other Rotary clubs and districts.”

Learn how you can support Rotary’s humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

Listen to the Rotary podcast: Why should we care about Russia’s war against Ukraine?

- February 2024