Posted by Michael Bull on Jul 11, 2018

Ukraine Adventure - A Trip of a Lifetime

A YMCA/Rotary Joint Venture
The best thing about the YMCA and Rotary is it offers opportunities to volunteer at any age.
Through the YMCA of Northern Alberta I was  allowed to participate through the YMCA Ukraine as a be part of the Go Camp children’s program which included 3 day training session and a two week day camp experience. I would recommend this experience to any adult Rotary volunteer.
The offer to volunteer also went out to our Rotary District 5370 and I was able to get another Rotarian, Sarah Letkeman from the Rotary Club of Whitecourt to join the program. Her experiences mirror mine.
We were able to visit the YMCA Ukraine office and meet the YMCA staff. It is amazing to see what is able to be achieved with such limited resources.
YMCA Ukraine arranged a weekend visit to Lviv in the Western Ukraine where Sarah and I were able to meet with The Rotary Club of Lviv Knyazhyi with members of the Lviv YMCA Lesya (local president), Olexandra, the CEO and members of their youth council joining us. The outcome of this meeting was a memorandum of agreement for the Lviv Rotary Club and Lviv YMCA to work on future projects together. They even took us to the opera.
The Lviv Rotary Club invited Sarah and me to work on a Rotary Friendship Exchange between our district 5370 and the Ukraine district 2232 to  coincide with the new Rotary Year July 2019.
As a follow up to my November 2018 trip to Kyiv, I was able to attend the Rotary Club  of Kyiv Multinational where we were able to do a presentation on the YMCA in Ukraine. We were joined by Victoria Trofimova, president of the YMCA Boyarka.   Victoria was an exceptional Y volunteer who later had me over to her home for a dinner. That day I had the pleasure of attending the YMCA Boyarka summer day camp. I was able to participate in an English class and game of soccer.
Viktor Serbulov, General Secretary for YMCA Ukraine and  I had the opportunity of meeting separately with the President of the Rotary Club of Kyiv Multinational, Jesper Lindholt.  Viktor and Jesper explored opportunities of cooperation which included discussions of YMCA Camp (July, 2019). Subsequently the Rotary Club sponsored to boys to the summer camp.
My personal experience was in the villages of Tarasivka and Vita Poshtova, communities 20 kilometers south of Kiev. My close to 3 weeks of living with a Ukrainian family brought me an opportunity of getting to know the Ukrainian way of life. The couple were in their 30’s and had 2 daughters 10 and 5 years old. The 10 year old and I would walk to camp each day held in the local school. Ukraine is in a state of war and I believe I have a better understanding of it.
The people of the community of Tarasivka where I lived are open and generous. Tarasivka is located between Boyarka and Vita Poshtova where YMCA programs exist. At this time there are no organized Y programs in Tarasivka. I saw strong evidence from parents, teachers, school administrator, and community volunteers that they are keen to offer their community some sort of ongoing Y program. I believe that these individuals are capable of doing this with little or no cost to the YMCA Ukraine other than oversight. I am sure the YMCA Boyarka and YMCA volunteers in existing programs in Vita Poshtova would be willing to assist as well.
Chernobyl Check Point
Chernobyl Checkpoint
Viktor, my Ukrainian host, and a landscape that could be Alberta.
The Go Camp
Gifting of Canada and Alberta flags to school