The situation in Ukraine is in the national news every day. Many Ukrainians have
been forced to leave their homes and their country behind. But where are those
refugees going? And for how long? A partial answer is they are going to other
continental European nations, the United States and Canada, and the United Kingdom
(UK). As an example, the UK has taken in thousands of refugees. Those refugees are
being housed throughout the UK, which consists of England, Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland. As a service organization, Friendswood Rotary has started a project to
support the refugees in northern Wales. One might ask “Why Wales, how, and for how
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Why Wales? Well, one member of our club made direct contact with a Welsh
Rotary club in northern Wales during her recent family visit there. As a result of that
contact, and her first hand account of the situation, we were introduced via Zoom to
members of the Welsh club, and to representatives of Link International (“Link”), a
locally connected charitable organization that is involved in accommodation of Ukrainian
refugees in Wales.

How can we support the refugees in Wales? Under our club President’s direction,
we formed a team to determine what we could do to support the Welsh club and the
Ukrainian refugees in the area. First, we determined that the Ukrainian refugee situation
is a long term situation. The war in Ukraine is still underway, and many refugees’ homes
and cities were destroyed by the Russians. Rebuilding in Ukraine will be a long term
proposition, and the refugees may not be able to return for years. Second, because our
member was in Wales, she was best equipped not only to lead the team, but also to
maintain communication with the Welsh club, Link, the Welsh government, and other
groups involved in the situation. She has done an admirable job gaining the trust of the
other groups, and representing our club to them as a service organization.
Our team leader has been a prime mover in determining how our club can best
provide support for the refugees. She observed first hand how the culture in Wales is
much different from ours in Texas. As a result, she has a good understanding of how we
can best work with the Welsh. For example, she was able to identify specific activities
that our club could support financially. After some discussion, our Friendswood club
provided financial support for two specific activities to help the refugees. Our support
was funneled through Link as a charitable organization, and were much appreciated.
Our team’s leader continues to build and maintain relationships with the Welsh
groups involved. Our team’s primary focus is to determine what needs to be done and
what can be done by our club. We know that the potential needs are great, but we want
to be good stewards of our money, and any donations we receive to assist the refugees.

For how long? This question cannot be answered at this time, but it will take
some time, perhaps many years, for the refugees to return to their homeland. Some of
them may never return, especially the children as they are educated in Wales, speaking
both English and Welsh. The Rotary Club of Friendswood, through its charitable
foundation, will provide support for the Ukrainian refugees as long as specific needs can
be identified and quantified. We hope to gain support throughout Friendswood and our
local area to ensure that the needs are met.
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