All of us have been moved by the pictures being sent from Ukraine and the surrounding countries and the stories being told of tragedy and bravery; the separation of wives and children from the men who say to fight. We all want to do something to help and make a difference quickly.

One of the great strengths of Rotary is its network of clubs around the world. By tapping into this network, we can quickly support actions being taken by other Rotarians at a local level when disasters strike.

The members of Bristol Breakfast Rotary Club have a close working relationship with Prague International Rotary Club in the Czech Republic, which is part of Rotary District 2240 (Czech Republic & Slovak Republic) and borders on Ukraine. Indeed, we have scheduled a visit in late April. So it was natural for us to contact them to understand the steps they are taking to address the refugee crisis in Ukraine and the surrounding countries.

District 2240 has already established 5 Rotary Committees to provide a coordinated approach to the problems arising from the war in Ukraine:

• Finance

• Food

• Pharma

• Accommodation

• Supply & Logistics at the Slovak Ukrainian border and into Uzhorod (Ukraine).

They have been able to set up a Czech Rotary train travelling back and forth across the Slovak Ukrainian border sending aid and bringing back refugees (aid from Czech Republic and placing refugees in Czech Republic). Although this is a Czech initiative, this is being coordinated by a District-level Coordinator based at the Slovak/Ukrainian border.

How you can help the Ukrainian refugees

As a club we are supporting this directly with donations of monies raised from pervious fund-raising initiatives. We are able to send monies directly to a designated account which is being used for all these refugees as well as taking supplies into Uzhorod and we are accepting donations from anyone who wishes to help.

Disaster Aid Europe

Irene Brichta of the Prague International Rotary Club is Chair of Disaster Aid Europe. In that role Irena is also likely to be a member of the new Rotary International Coordinating Committee, organized by Zone Director Katerina Kotsali Papadimitriou. This will include District Coordinators from all these frontline border districts all the frontline districts bordering the Ukraine i.e. Poland, Rumania & Moldova, Hungary and Lithuania as well as Ukraine. It will create a platform for exchanging information etc. quickly.

Disaster Aid Europe has received its first 2 Sky Hydrant Rapid Response Gems (able to supply 5,000 litres a day of clean drinking water) from Disaster Aid Australia, is preparing its response trailer, and hopes to take it soon to one of the Slovak Rotarians’ 3 warehouses so that supplies can then go onward to Ukraine by train or truck.

in due course, the District will be applying for one of the new Rotary International Disaster Response Fund grants to supplement the donations being received directly.