May 27th, 2024

Service Above Self: Working for peace

By Medicine Hat Rotary Club on April 30, 2024.

You many remember the John Denver song:

What one man can do is dream;

What one man can do is love;

What one man can do is change the world;

And make it young again;

Here you see what one man can do.

If one man can change the world, imagine what a number of Rotarians can do together. One such man is Gerry Darichuk, a Calgary Rotarian, and a man who rallies others together.

During Christmas, he delivered boxes of tourniquets to Ukraine and was invited by the doctor overseeing services at the front to see the needs there. He lived with medical teams for five days. Scrub your mind of a M*A*S*H operating room, mess, and tents.

His was a wear-and-sleep-in-your-clothes-for-a-week experience in whichever bombed out building could be temporarily secured.

Crews knew that if a drone overflew the area, they would have to be gone in four hours and relocated somehow again close to the front lines. Gerry learned what the needs at the front were and even as importantly, what was needed after emergency hospital care.

There was simply no system for rehabilitation. He met with Ukrainian Rotarians and conceived a plan: Create a rehabilitation wing for civilians and military injured – usually amputees – and get Rotarians and others to furnish it with supplies and equipment.

In February, Gerry spoke to the three Rotary clubs in Medicine Hat which do international projects. All three committed $2,000 US to seed an application for District and Global grants. Part of the magic of Rotary is that a modest amount of money can be magnified.

In this case, it is anticipated that the initial $6,000 from Medicine Hat clubs will become $33,000. Medicine Hat clubs have become the leaders in the Province for the Ukraine Medical Support Program.

Now more than nine other Rotary clubs have joined the project along with the group, Ukrainians of Calgary.

But the project extends across the Atlantic. Sweden has joined the effort, has committed funds, and is submitting its own District grant application. One Rotary club in Ukraine is co-ordinating work, and one city there is refurbishing a hospital wing for the rehabilitation area and has committed to staffing, training, and maintaining the facilities.

“What one man can do,” indeed. And beyond that…What many Rotarians can do together: Change the world.

If you are interested in being part of the effort, contact Gerry Darichuk (403) 818-0735) Donations for a tax receipt can go to: The Rotary Club of Calgary North, Box 65250 North Hill, Calgary, AB T2N 4T6 or Interact rccn952foundation@gmail.com.

This column was contributed by the Medicine Hat Rotary Club

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