Ukrainian Storytelling Update

He said there are seventy (70) refugee camps inside of Ukraine.
Picture of Dan Smith

Dan Smith

A passion for podcasting to tell the world about the great things Rotary is doing.

Over the past two weeks we have made great progress on the Voices and Stories Ukraine project.

The goal of the project is to create a business in Ukraine, hire, train and equip, ten podcasters to tell Rotary stories from Ukraine, from Poland, from Moldova and neighboring countries. Stories about life in a war zone and how Rotary is helping; told by the people living it. These are real stories that only Ukrainians can tell. So the world can share their stories, share their experiences, and understand their needs so we know how to help.


Rotary International

LeAnn Mobley, Disaster Response Grants Specialist for Zone 26 & 27, asked Rotary International Director Vicki Puliz to review the project. Vicki then forwarded the website link to David Alexander, Rotary International General Manager & Chief Communications Officer who had some suggested changes with the comment “This looks good and we would like to highlight this in the Rotary voices blog.”


Meeting with the Ukrainian Team

Last Friday we meet with Ukrainian District Governor Vitalii Lesko and his team including PDG Mykola Stebljanko who is also Zone 21A RPIC., and the organizer in the February Rotary Magazine article “Life During Wartime.”

We discussed the project and DG Vitalii said he would like to have a contest among the refugee camps in Ukraine to collect their stories. He said there are seventy (70) refugee camps inside of Ukraine. His thought is that by posting these stories on the website we can continue to build interest in the project while we are looking for the podcasting team. It would also give these people a voice and a chance to tell their personal stories.

Even with the danger and situation in Ukraine, Rotarians and Ukrainians try to maintain life as usual. DG Vitalii had to leave the meeting to catch the train for club visits in the “hot zone” where the fighting is going on. He was listening and participating from his taxi.

Here is PDG Mykola Stebljanko comments on the project. At the time of the meeting electricity was out and he was holding up his mobile phone so we could see his face.

The Funding Tour

As soon as we can rise the funds, $4,750, to cover the hotels and transportation costs I will go to Ukraine and visit all six countries to help raise the money to hire and support the ten podcasters. Its like riding a bicycle across the country to raise funds, but with more bullets (hopefully not).

As Susan Mathison said in the Rotary Magazine article “There are millions of Ukrainians who wake up every day to bombings and find the courage to feed and clothe their kids and keep them safe. If they can do that, it’s my job to do it for a couple of days and then leverage that experience to help them in the long-run.”

The trip will include club visits, going to Rotary projects and meeting Field Podcaster candidates. As much as possible we will broadcast live and also have on-demand videos. I have the plane ticket so as soon as we have the ground expenses covered we will lay out the schedule and publish it here in the newsletter.

We want you to be comfortable with this project before we ask for your help funding the ten podcasters. Seeing and hearing from the people you are helping is important to us.

Hopefully you will join us on this adventure. Guarantee you will see snow, strange train and bus rides and meet some great people.

For more information and to support this trip, please visit GoFundMe.

Thank You

3 Responses

  1. From the other part of the world, I have to admit that I had no information about what Rotary is doing in Ukraine and even playing its part in peace building. Many thanks for the initiative. Certainly helps keep rest of the world informed.

  2. Mykola shared that Rotary Clubs in Ukraine, despite all their humanitarian work (or because of it), do not have time to tell their stories. This is a compelling reason to support them in this historic effort. Visiting the in-country refugee camps will also be an incredible opportunity to find podcasters and tell stories of Rotary’s work inside a war zone. Thank you so much Dan for your creativity and for applying your knowledge and past experience inside Ukraine.

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