Chernihiv was under siege from late February until early April and endured some of the fiercest bombing of the war. This resulted in considerable damage, in particular to high rise residential properties where residents were often trapped and unable to escape. The rescue of these residents was rendered particularly difficult because of the height of the buildings, highlighting the need for specialist rescue apparatus to access these very tall buildings.
Kyrylo Pesenkov, president of the Rotary Club of Kyiv appealed to the worldwide Rotary community for their support to address this issue. He had identified a Fire Rescue Truck equipped with a 30 metre long extension ladder which would be the ideal solution to the dilemma facing the Chernihiv rescue services.
The fire truck was sourced from Austria but would cost $50,000 to purchase, upgrade and deliver to Ukraine.
Enter the Rotary Club of Edinburgh.
The Edinburgh club had been one of six clubs worldwide who were instrumental in the setting up of the Kyiv club following the demise of the Soviet Union and the birth of the newly independent Ukraine, the five other partner clubs being based in the USA and Canada.
On the outbreak of war in Ukraine, RI General Secretary John Hewko, himself a charter member of the Kyiv Club, asked the co-sponsor clubs and their districts to collaborate again. Since then, representatives of the Kyiv Club and District, the six sponsor clubs and their Districts have been meeting regularly by Zoom to identify ways to share what is working to raise awareness, donations and RI Disaster Response Grants.
The Edinburgh Club responded swiftly and positively to the appeal from president Kyrylo Pesenkov, and through Zoom were soon in contact with their North American counterparts, devising a strategy to get the Fire Rescue Truck to Chernihiv where it was most needed.
Rotary International had established a Ukraine Disaster Fund to finance and source relief projects to support the citizens of Ukraine. Rotarians worldwide have raised in excess of $15 million for this fund, and grants of up to $25,000 are available to Rotary Districts who create suitable projects.
The purchase, upgrade and delivery of a Fire Rescue Truck met every aspect of the criteria to be eligible for grant funding, so the Edinburgh Club obtained the support of their own district, D1020, and co-sponsors in District 5050, (Washington State & British Columbia) to move the project forward.
Each District would apply for the maximum grant of $25,000 to fund the $50,000 purchase, upgrade and delivery price.
Both Grants were speedily approved and the wheels were set in motion for the delivery of the Fire Rescue Truck. It was driven to Latvia while the financial arrangements were finalised, then via Poland to the Ukranian border where a reception committee was waiting to make the final leg of the journey to the city of Chernihiv.
The Fire Rescue Truck was safely received by the Chernihiv Fire and Rescue Service on Monday 13th of June and given a traditional hosedown to recognise and welcome the new appliance.
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