As a demonstration of gratitude for all the work done by Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland for Ukraine, benches that commemorate the work done by all the different Rotary teams on the Isles have been built in Shevchenko Park, Kyiv.
Maryna Dolzhenko led the project as a way of expressing Ukraine’s gratitude but also to show the people of Ukraine that the people of countries around the world are with them during this difficult time.
Maryna is a leader of a Rotary Intercountry Committee (ICC) in Ukraine. ICC’s are put in place to promote relationships between two or more countries, in turn increasing the chance of support between Rotary communities in different nations.
A Rotary ICC is how Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland already had a strong relationship with Ukraine, as shown through by the Rotary Peace Square the Rotary Club of Westminster West helped build in Kyiv which has remained cared for even during the earliest parts of the war.
The new benches are placed in one of Kyiv’s most popular parks and each of them is fitted with a plaque containing thanks to the Rotary groups in Great Britain and Ireland that have supported Ukraine during the conflict that started in February 2022.
Over the last 12 months, Rotarians from Great Britain and Ireland donated over £6m in cash and kind, and gave more than 100,000 volunteer hours supporting Ukraine and its people.
Thank you very much for your commitment and continued support to all the people of Ukraine!”
As well as thanking Rotary in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and the Channel Islands, the benches mention specific groups such as the Rotary International Fellowship of Healthcare Professionals. Fellowships connect Rotary members across the world with shared skills, interests and expertise, often to implement humanitarian projects.
Led by Dr John Phillip, the Rotary International Fellowship of Healthcare Professionals have raised more than £500,000 that has been spent on 20,000 tourniquets, specialist battery-powered head torches (so surgeons can continue to perform operations) and £120,000 worth of orthopaedic instruments.
The Fellowship has recently undertaken a project supporting 30,000 mothers and babies in Ukraine which you can find out more about here.
The benches also make sure to thank the Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland Ukraine Taskforce, a group of Rotarians established at the start of the conflict with the job of coordinating humanitarian efforts to help those displaced by the war in Ukraine.
The taskforce is led by Allan Smith, Rotary GB&I Humanitarian Disaster Response Lead, and they have made sure to put out regular bulletins informing people what the major humanitarian needs are in Ukraine and how people can help.
Also mentioned are The Rotary Foundation, Rotary’s own charity which raised over $15 million worldwide, funding more than 400 grants that provided Ukrainians with essential support.
The Rotary Foundation has now established a temporary fund in order to support those who have been affected by the war.
Maryna Dolzhenko sent a message when informing the Taskforce of the benches, saying: “Thank you very much for your commitment and continued support to all the people of Ukraine! We really feel your involvement, solidarity and the warmth of your hearts!”