Local Rotarians contribute to school rebuilding effort in Ukraine

Mykola Stebljanko from Rotary Club District 2232 in Ukraine, via Zoom at the weekly Tuesday meeting of the Rotary Club of Picton. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette staff)




At the weekly Tuesday meeting of The Rotary Club of Picton, members and guests heard from fellow Rotarian Mykola Stebljanko who is the Past Governor of District 2232 known as the Rotary eClub of Ukraine.

Stebljanko told the local club via Zoom of the recent history and current situation Ukrainians and their country are facing due to the invasion of Russian forces..

“From the very beginning of the war, Rotary in Ukraine started to respond of this huge humanitarian crisis,” Stebljanko expressed to Picton Rotary. “All 67 Rotary Clubs in Ukraine united to face this crisis. Unfortunately due to the military actions, a third of the population of Ukraine moved from their homes and left from eastern part of Ukraine to western part of Ukraine. Also millions of people left Ukraine for other countries. I would like to thank Canada and note our Ukrainians feel your country as a home.”

In different territories of Ukraine, there are different actions and initiatives from Rotary Clubs.

“For frontline cities-They give help to people who are trying to survive and in the western part, most activity is help for refugees,” said Stebljanko. “In liberated territories, mostly we try to help to recover infrastructure, but this is very huge work and we’re just in the beginning of this.”

One project Rotary District 2232 has undertaken and which the Rotary Club of Picton support is the Buzova School Project.

School rebuilding in war-torn Ukraine is being supported by many service organizations from around the world. (UNICEF Photo)

“One of the projects, which you (Rotary of Picton) are already a part of this project,” Stebljanko said. “Is situated on the liberated territory near Kyiv the capital of Ukraine, the project is in Buzova village, it’s 20 km to the west from Kyiv. After liberation of this village, there is damaged buildings and lots of damage to infrastructure with lots of damages in the local school.”

As stated on the Rotary Club of Picton’s website, Stebljanko’s presentation included a review of development of the projects and their current status. In January 2023, the Rotary Club of Picton donated US$25,000 to the Buzova Project, using funds raised at their Ukrainian Evening held in November 2022.

Those funds were used for rebuilding the school cafeteria which provides breakfast and lunch for the students. Stebljanko expects the school will reopen in September 2023 to welcome back over 500 students.

“After visiting this school last summer, we decided to announce the project of recovery of this school,” said Stebljanko. “The first step was the recovery of the heating system, which was a special disaster relief grant. Our district received more than $100,000 and we repaired the heating systems. Also at the same time, other donors helped the school to fix the roof, walls and windows. The next step, we had small donors and we purcahsed the equipment for music and chemical classes. Now this equipment is unboxed because these classrooms are not ready to have this equipment installed, so we just store it for the future. Next step was in November/December when we announced recovery of the food block building. It’s a dinning room and kitchen and we received one donation from Rotary Club 6650 USA and from your club (Picton Rotary) we received $25,000, it was enough to start to rehabilitation activities. At the moment we have repaired the walls from the holes and also we replaced all electricity infrastructure and now the walls are ready for the new decorations. We hope in a month or two, this food block building will be ready for the next steps.”

During the question period, Stebljanko revealed that as territory is reclaimed, the local Rotary Clubs are once again raising funds and providing support to their communities.

Some of this support is still at the frontlines of the war, just trying to help people survive. As well, most projects purchase material locally to try and boost the local economy as well.

“In the beginning, it seems impossible to rise above this and to recover the school,” Stebljanko expressed. “But step-by-step, we are just now in the middle of it, and we will continue our activity work and we will continue our fundraising. We have about six months until the start of the new school year when the administration of the school is going to invite all 500 children to return to this school and to continue their education in their home school.”

For more information on Rotary District 2232, Ukraine, please visit https://www.rotary.org.ua/template/Eng/index.html