The beginnings

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In the autumn of 2022, specifically in October, an idea emerged. This idea was centered around creating a camp specifically designed for children hailing from Ukraine. Given the circumstances and the need for such initiatives, we immediately took action. We initiated a thorough investigation into the logistics of this endeavor. Our primary concerns were the financial aspects and the number of children who would be interested in such an opportunity. After careful consideration and analysis, we concluded that we could accommodate 50 eager participants. The financial planning was meticulous, and after several discussions and budgeting sessions, we earmarked a budget of 21,000 EUR for this noble cause. This budget was allocated for the camp that was to be hosted at the renowned Sosnowy Club. With the budget in place and our objectives clear, we embarked on our mission and started the necessary preparations. The timeline was tight, but we were optimistic. We aimed to have everything set and ready for the camp to commence in January 2023. However, as with many well-laid plans, we encountered unforeseen challenges. The Rotary Clubs, which were instrumental in this initiative, underwent a change in their administrative structure. New boards were established, and with this change came a period of transition. The new members needed time to acquaint themselves with ongoing projects, understand the current situation, and evaluate the best ways to assist. Their primary focus shifted towards understanding the broader picture, especially the potential avenues of assistance and the strategies for fund collection to support Ukraine. Moreover, as the situation evolved, it became evident that there was an immediate and pressing need to address another significant issue. The refugees from Ukraine were in dire need of employment opportunities. Providing them with stable jobs became the topmost priority, overshadowing other initiatives. Given these developments and the shift in focus, it was with a heavy heart that we decided to delay our initial plans for the camp. We remained hopeful, however, that once the immediate needs were addressed, we could revisit and bring our vision for the camp to fruition.

The financing

In the spring of 2023, specifically in May, we received a heartwarming message from our long-time collaborators and friends at the Rotary Club of Frankfurt. They had been working diligently on a fundraising initiative and had successfully managed to gather a commendable sum of 5,000 EUR. Their dedication and effort inspired us, and we felt compelled to match their contribution. Without hesitation, we decided to add another 5,000 EUR to the pool, doubling the funds at hand. To streamline the collection process and make it accessible to international donors, we initiated a fundraising campaign using the popular online payment platform, Paypal. As the days progressed, our network of connections proved invaluable. We rekindled our discussions with another esteemed partner, the Rotary Club Canberra Burley Griffin. They had always been supportive of our endeavors, and this time was no different. Just when we thought we had a clear picture of our financial standing, they surprised us with a generous contribution of 6,500 USD, a gesture that significantly bolstered our funds. The spirit of collaboration and generosity didn't stop there. We received overwhelming support from Rotarians spread across different continents. From the sunny coasts of Australia to the snowy peaks of Switzerland and the picturesque landscapes of Sweden, contributions poured in. An additional sum of 1,300 EUR was sent to our Paypal account, a testament to the global solidarity and commitment of the Rotary community. However, as we approached our target, we realized there was still a gap in our funds. This is where the Rotary Club of Warsaw stepped in, showcasing their unwavering support. They graciously covered the remaining amount, ensuring that our total matched the desired 21,000 EUR. Out contribution was the final piece of the puzzle, and with our help, our collective efforts bore fruit. By the end of June, specifically on June 29, 2023, we celebrated a significant milestone: we had successfully met all our financial requirements, paving the way for our upcoming projects.

Ukrainian summer in Klub Sosnowy

In the heart of Europe, the city of Warsaw opened its arms to embrace the warmth of a Ukrainian summer. The initial plan was simple: a bus filled with 50 souls, comprising children, their guardians, and drivers, would embark on a journey to experience the Polish capital. But fate, with a sprinkle of goodwill, had grander plans in store. Thanks to the benevolent owner of the Sosonowy Club, a staunch supporter of the Rotarians and a beacon of hope for refugees, not one but two buses rolled into the city. The first, at the tail end of July, brought with it 30 children, 21 from the city of Zaporizhia and 9 from Kropyvnytskyi. Following closely, as August neared its end, another 30 children from the vicinity of Lviv joined the summer adventure. Each group was accompanied by vigilant guardians and skilled drivers, ensuring their safety and comfort. In the group that arrived in July, there were four guardians (three from Zaporizhzhia and one from Kropyvnytskyi), along with two drivers. In the second group, there were four nuns serving as caretakers, also accompanied by two drivers. But the story doesn't end with just the children. The Ukrainian foundation, Flying Bags, led by the spirited teenager Kira, became an integral part of this summer tale. With their involvement, a team of dedicated volunteers was formed, guiding the children through the historic streets of Warsaw. The camp's numbers swelled, and by summer's end, nearly 80 individuals from Ukraine had experienced the magic of Warsaw. Kira's influence extended beyond just the camp. Her father, Sergey, took on the mantle of leadership, becoming the new president of the Rotary Club Warsaw Belweder. With a vision for the future, they set their sights on numerous aid projects, with a primary focus on Ukraine. The first group, teenagers ranging from 12 to 17, hailed from Zaporizhia and Kropyvnytskyi. Their guardians, members of local Rotary clubs, watched over them. Communication barriers existed, but in today's world, technology bridged the gap, making interactions smoother. The second group, younger in age, around 7-12 years old, brought with them a melody that resonated with all. These were the voices behind the song on the website, a tune that captured hearts. Accompanying them were two nuns, educators teaching them the Polish language in a Ukrainian setting. Their days in Warsaw were filled with wonder. From the majestic Royal Castle to the bustling Market Square of the old town, every corner held a story. They marveled at the exhibits in the Copernicus Science Centre, relaxed in the serene Saxon Garden, and delved into the history at the Frederic Chopin Museum and the National Museum. A visit to the University of Warsaw was a highlight, with the rooftop garden of its library offering panoramic views of the city. They even ventured into Warsaw's business center, witnessing the modern side of the city. Safety was paramount, and throughout their stay, the city's embrace ensured they felt secure. No sirens, no alarms, just the harmonious hum of a city in summer. As the days turned to memories, gratitude filled their hearts. The Rotary Club, the organizers, and all who played a part in this summer tale received heartfelt thanks. For many, this trip was more than just a summer camp; it was a journey of hope, unity, and lasting memories.