Witnesses to history

Rotaract brings together young leaders 18-30 years old who want to take action in their communities. See how one club is making a difference in Ukraine.
Video Credit: Rotary International

The first Rotary club in Ukraine was chartered in 1992, mere months after the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union. Twenty years later, young people have embraced Rotary through 24 Rotaract clubs across the country.

While many of them focus on the challenges facing Ukraine today, members of the Rotaract Club of Kyiv Multinational – one of four in the capital city – take time to honor their elders. For nearly three years, they’ve been visiting a nursing home in Peremoha, about 40 miles from Kyiv.

The village’s elderly residents have lived through a tumultuous century: the brutal German invasion and retreat during World War II, years of Soviet occupation and the struggle for independence, and the transition to a market economy in the 1990s. “These are the people who did their best for future generations, for us, to live in a free country,” says past club president Taras Mytkalyk. “We wanted to fill their lives with a feeling of being needed.”

Now those future generations are finding an outlet to give back through Rotaract. “Young people in Ukraine are attracted to this movement because they see the results of their work,” Mytkalyk says. “There’s no need to wait for somebody's approval or to go through bureaucratic procedures—they can just go out and do good, while having fun along the way.”

This story originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of The Rotarian