The reality of the war in Ukraine is brought home to Inverurie Rotarians
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The horrors of war in Ukraine were brought home to Inverurie Rotarians by the Rotary President of Kharkiv International Rotary club, Erik Avetisov.
As Rotarian Peter Donaldson explained: "An imposing figure Erik towering above even our tallest members, he, his wife, and his young family fled to Scotland some three months ago.
"Erik explained initially that his club was a very young club, created in 2019, compared with Inverurie who are 70+ years old.
"They have 18 members but in the city of Kharkiv there are 8 rotary clubs with 1344 members.
"Until the invasion by Russia they met every Thursday, now they have to meet by Zoom .
"What we in Scotland see on our BBC/ITV does not really convey the true horrors that the Ukrainian people are suffering.
"We saw some graphic pictures of residential buildings being destroyed by Russian rockets much as we see here on TV but the reality is in the aftermath showed children blown to bits and others dying on the streets.
"Young Ukrainian women who had been killed protecting children being dropped into mass graves.
"These pictures brought some of our members to tears.
"The reality of this evil war was brought home to us all."
Erik then explained Rotary’s responses from first week of the conflict until very recently.
Clubs there provided immediate humanitarian aid from emergency shelter, food and clothing.
Since then, they have provided laptops to some 150 schools which were destroyed, and now almost all children are taught online.
It is too dangerous to group children together.
Rotary raised through an appeal 70K US$ and have now provided 470 laptops.
They are hoping that laptop manufacturers will also provide additional support as they estimate they will need 12,000 laptops.
Their other activities have seen Rotary clubs provide meals, hygiene products, medicines, fuel and over 1000 meals per day.
The need is still very great. Ukrainian Rotary clubs have also been involved in relocating refugees, some 6245 families have been relocated outside the country, sometimes to dormitories which are always too full and are depressing.
Individual clubs have helped to provide recreational facilities and play areas for the children .
With winter at hand temperatures fall to -25 degrees below zero and warm shelters are needed.
All clubs are involved in providing heating stations made from bulk containers where people can be warmed and also receive medical attention. Portable wood stoves are being built, provided by Rotary.
Ambulances, fire engines and other Emergency vehicles are much needed especially right hand drive as in gallows humour Erik explained the Russians always shoot at the driver on the left sides so missing!
A truly harrowing talk but Erik was confident that his people would prevail but still needed financial support for humanitarian purposes .
Another local club from Aberdeen who grew sunflowers raised £6000 donating it to the Ukrainian appeal.
It’s very likely Inverurie club will also help to raise fund for humanitarian needs in Ukraine.