Dr. Myron Uhryn, a dentist from Lviv, is President of the National Union of Dentists of Ukraine and founder of the Myron Uhryn Charitable Foundation. Since July 2023, he has been the Governor of Rotary Ukraine (District 2232) and recently visited the Rotary clubs of southern Ukraine.

Rotary is an international network of clubs founded by Chicago attorney Paul Harris in 1905 to offer professionals with diverse backgrounds a chance to exchange ideas and form meaningful friendships. Over time, Rotary’s reach and vision gradually extended to humanitarian service. 

Today, the international network of clubs is sending a substantial amount of donations to the Ukrainian Rotary clubs, to support their humanitarian actions. Uhryn interviewed with Kyiv Post to talk about it.

How is Rotary committed to charity initiatives during this war in Ukraine?

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If you talk about the present role of Rotary and the war, then we must remember that the war for us did not start on Feb. 24, 2022. It began in January 2014, and all this time Rotary has been active. We took part in overcoming humanitarian problems in the Luhansk region, we supported refugees from Crimea. That is, we were already ready to help and find solutions to what is an obvious humanitarian problem: Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. 

This kind of crisis entails destruction, deportation, evacuation of people from dangerous areas, and migration of many of them to other countries. Some people lack water, food, housing; they have no place to live, no place to study, and many other problems. Rotarians, especially our District 2232, are working together with Rotary International to help these people. 

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A special fund of more than $15 million was created and allocated to Rotary clubs all over Ukraine to fight this problem, because that is a very powerful logistic system. Therefore, Rotary practically covers the whole of Ukraine. And through such a network of these clubs, we can effectively help in overcoming humanitarian problems, like the internal displaced people (IDP), lack of clean water, and medical problems. 

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And what about the problem of demining? It’s become a very serious one. 

Another big problem is the education of children, because the schools have been destroyed and, as the new governor, I will continue the work that was done by the previous governor. 

We are just adding these new challenges that are coming up now and the district is trying to help overcome these problems. Each club is a separate unit in the district and makes its own programs. At the district level, we try to coordinate this assistance effectively.

Myron Uhryn. Photo by Ugo Poletti.

You came here to Odesa after Mykolaiv, Izmail and other southern Ukrainian cities to meet the local Rotary Clubs. What are some of your impressions?

I want to meet all the clubs, when I can. For example, the Kherson club was present here in Odesa, because it still can’t work in its city. There is practically one more club left from the region, only a travelling one. I’m very emotional and I saw the work that the clubs, Odesa, Mykolaiv and Kherson clubs are doing in their region and what a great job in such difficult conditions. Especially Kherson and Mykolaiv. It means a lot for me.

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I love this region, it’s a very iconic region, I love Odesa. I’ve been to Mykolaiv once, before this trip, but I’ve never been to the city of Kherson and I hope that what I heard these days from Odesa, from Mykolaiv, from Kherson clubs will be the same. If I had a hat, I would take it off to them.

Give us some examples from your experience of when Rotary “created hope” in Ukraine.

Today’s president of Rotary International is Gordon McInally, who chose as an annual Rotary theme: “Create Hope in the World.” Let’s give hope to the world, but we give it practically, helping the people. Creating hope for the world means, for us, doing it through Rotary.

Let’s not forget that Rotary International overcame polio in the world. As far as Ukraine is concerned, I remember two programs, in particular. In Ukraine, they did not do specific surgery, like coronary artery bypass grafting for patients with heart diseases. We made a program in Ukraine through Rotary, which started from Lviv. That is, we introduced these operations through Rotary and these operations started to be performed. We trained local specialists, foreign specialists came to Ukraine, we received equipment, and gave hope and life to many patients. 

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Then, few people know that there was in the past an outbreak of tick-borne encephalitis in Ukraine. But the epidemic came back, in western Ukraine, and Rotary succeeded in organizing the fight against this disease. We had to transfer vaccines from America to here, it was necessary to provide a logistic chain through Rotary. Vaccines were handed over to Krakow, and then to the final destination in Ukraine.

Rotary, because of its activity, its governance system, and its network, which covers the whole world, has the opportunity to give the world hope for life. Hope to every person, every child, all of us. 

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