While leading a relief effort for Ukraine, Bernard Altmann has been inspired by Kiwanians’ unity.

By Bernard Altmann
Kiwanis Children’s Fund Ambassador, Europe 1 Region

Right at the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we Kiwanians in Europe concluded that we had a duty to help — because this immeasurable suffering was taking place “on our doorstep.”

For example, our Romanian clubs had taken immediate measures to provide accommodations and food to refugees. But most local clubs lacked the necessary financial resources for direct support to people inside Ukraine, so the Kiwanis Children’s Fund-Europe has helped financially. We have also bought blankets, food and other necessary materials, including new shoes and diapers for the refugee children.

But I want to be clear: Our support for Ukraine is a success for all the Kiwanis clubs in Europe and beyond — not just for a single district or group of people.

An inspiring sign
At the beginning of our relief effort, we made an appeal for financial support to European districts. They were immediately willing to participate, and other districts and their clubs in all parts of the world joined the action.

Isn’t this a clear, inspiring sign of the unity of all Kiwanians?

Most of ourdonations have been food and ingredients for meals: flour, oil, soup powder, rice, milk and water. But we have also been able to provide shawls, laundry powder, hygiene products and more. And because the needs are so great, we have made recent donations of heaters and large generators.

In cooperation with the governor of Austria and with a financial contribution from Kiwanis Children’s Fund-Europe, seven fully loaded trucks with relief supplies drove from Austria via Slovakia to Ukraine. Another 13 have left from Luxembourg so far — three of them directly to Kiev and two to Slovakia for further distribution in Ukraine. The other eight have transported goods to our interim storage facility at a shoe factory in Vicovu de Sus, Romania. From there, volunteers drive smaller trucks or private cars into the interior of Ukraine and also to the front.

I estimate the total value of these delivered relief supplies at over €1 million!

More to do
At this point, we will analyze the situation and discuss our course of action. For example, we should think of the many refugee children in Romania and try to support their social integration and their education.

We still have a great deal of work ahead of us. But we are Kiwanians. We will not give up as long as our help is needed in Ukraine and neighboring countries.

Bernard Altmann has been a member of the Mersch Uelzechtdall Kiwanis Club in Luxembourg for nearly 30 years. He is currently also president of the social commission of the Belgium-Luxembourg District.