I visited Ukraine two decades ago, shortly after the country gained its independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union. I found the Ukrainian people to be a freedom- loving people who embraced Western values with a sense of openness, earnestness, and ease that generations of Soviet subjugation never achieved. Following the invasion on Feb. 24, it became clear that Ukrainians were willing to fight with their lives to defend those freedoms and defeat the bondage of Putin’s regime.
While much has been written about the human atrocities brought to bear in Russia’s illegal, immoral invasion of its western neighbor, few words can truly capture the heartbreaking daily reality of this European ally and the 40 million souls who call it home.
Atlanta is not only a city “too busy to hate,” it is an international city that has a wonderful attitude about acceptance, progress, and today - I believe - world peace. So now I am here on the ground, near the Ukrainian border, and the news you’re receiving in the United States only scratches the surface of what’s truly underway.
The consequence of inactivity is an antiquated world order void of the shared rules that have effectively navigated the European continent through its longest sustained period of peace in modern human history.
Far be it from me to presuppose how this conflict will end nor surmise how to steer its resolve, but this much I know for certain: The collective goodness of our support is having a tangible impact on those directly engaged. So, let us do more.
Some weeks ago, I was contacted by the leadership of Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC), the Atlanta-based and leading provider of refurbished home medical equipment in the United States. They explained how the generosity of many Atlantans has collectively donated nearly $1 million in surgical-grade medical equipment to support the relief effort in Ukraine. I was overcome by the kindness of this incredible act and wanted to lend myself to the campaign. What came next was nothing short of miraculous.
Rotary International is a humanitarian service organization of global reach with its 46,000 clubs. When the war broke out, Rotarians across the globe began marshaling their resources in an international relay to aid Ukraine. Among those was Greater Atlanta’s Rotary District 6900, which raised $150,000 from its members alone. Through seemingly messianic circumstances more akin to fiction than reality, a young man from our organization’s Buckhead club has a father practicing medicine in Eastern Europe and shared with us the dire needs from the warfront.
When there is a Rotarian in need, a Rotarian will answer.
Three weeks later, I am at the Romanian border preparing to enter Ukraine and ensure the safe receipt from the latest tranche of FODAC’s donations – 39 pallets and over 12,000 pounds of desperately needed medical equipment. Alongside me in the effort are volunteer Rotarians from the region, working day in and day out, doing whatever they can to make a difference. In my short time near the frontlines, I am amazed at the willingness of the global community of previously unconnected people to come together and support this cause.
Yes, it is a privilege to serve others. We all know that in giving we receive. I am so proud of Atlanta and the resources that we have as a global center of health to disperse medical supplies, food and other items urgently needed as a result of this ongoing war, but we need to do more. We must do more.
Please consider whatever support you can lend to the ongoing efforts of FODAC and its partners as we continue to provide the aid that we, too, would so desperately want for ourselves should, God forbid, a similar conflict reach our shores.
Emory Morsberger is a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives and current president of the Tucker Summit CID. He will remain in Ukraine and neighboring NATO allies throughout June.
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