The war in Ukraine has left death, destruction and ruin in its wake. As Japanese philosopher Daisaku Ikeda so succinctly put it, “For both victor and vanquished, war leaves only a sense of endless futility.” Indeed, the victims of war today are largely civilians, and mostly women and children. It is this hapless populace that is desperately in need of humanitarian aid, to simply survive. The trustees of The Rotary Foundation realised that the crisis in Ukraine called for an immediate response in terms of aid through the Disaster Response Fund and on March 3, they decided, inter alia,
- that disaster response grants to support relief and recovery efforts in districts that have been affected by the Ukraine war crisis will receive priority access until June 30, 2022 or earlier if all funds have been spent;
- that Districts 1911 (Hungary), 2231 (Poland), 2232 (Belarus and Ukraine), 2240 (Czech Republic and Slovakia) and 2241 (Republic of Moldova and Romania) are eligible for a Disaster Response Grant of up to $50,000 until June 30, 2022.
Rotarians were informed of the above decisions a few days later and were given the option to contribute funds online. Districts were requested to give from their DDF. Many Rotarians immediately opened their hearts and purses, and till March 19, in less than 16 days, outright contributions have reached $1,895,793 and DDF received are $1,335,962, totalling $3,231,755.
So far TRF staff have approved 11 grants worth $375,000 and several more applications are likely to be submitted soon. Peace and conflict resolution are the cornerstone of the mission of Rotary. Rotary’s commitment to peacebuilding takes many forms, including supporting our Peace Centers and offering Peace Fellowships and Scholarships. Our work in conflict prevention is exemplified by a quote from Gene Roddenberry, legendary screenwriter and producer of Star Trek: “The strength of a civilisation is not measured by its ability to fight wars, but rather, its ability to prevent them.”
What TRF seeks to do through the aegis of over 35,000 clubs across the world is best summed up by that famous John Lennon anti-war song ‘Imagine’. May peace prevail.
Gulam A Vahanvaty
Trustee, The Rotary Foundation