Every time we talk about the benefactors of Rohatyn Lyceum “Gymnasium of Prince Volodymyr the Great” we first mention a cheerful woman with a friendly smile, Vera Kostiuk Busch, an American woman of Ukrainian origin who lives in Germany. She was awarded the title of "Ukrainian of the Year” for her great contribution to the development of Ukraine by the Graduates Club of Detroit. She also holds the title “Honorable Citizen of Rohatyn” presented by the Mayor of Rohatyn. She first visited Ukraine in 1973.
When Ukraine became independent in 1991, she visited our town and was so shocked by the poverty that after her return to Germany she immediately started helping Rohatyn as much as she could. She alarmed her friends from Ratingen near Dusseldorf with the words: "I have seen poverty and we must do something about it”. Thus a German initiative to help the Ukrainian town of Rohatyn was set up. People in Ratingen got involved and later a charitable organization "Pro Ukraine e.V" was registered on February 2, 2003. The name speaks for the purpose of the organization: for Ukraine. This year the charitable foundation "Pro Ukraine e.V." celebrates its 20th Anniversary!!!
The organization was founded to pay special attention to the children of Rohatyn Lyceum “Gymnasium of Prince Volodymyr the Great”. Vera’s mother Maria Schewciw Kostiuk was a student there. The financial aid provided by "Pro Ukraine e.V" has already exceeded 1 million hryvna. The organization is aware of the difficult financial situation of many families in Ukraine, that is why the "Hot Lunches" program had been launched. It has provided 10-25 students yearly with free hot lunches daily. This is a considerable support for needy families. A group of children are learning to play the bandura. Our school regularly receives significant financial support to pay the instructor and the upkeep of the instruments. This creative project was started in honor of Vera’s father, Mykola Kostiuk, who was an outstanding lead singer of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America for 50 years.
Since 2009 annual cultural trips to Ratingen for the best students of the 10th grade and their teacher began. The aim was to get acquainted with this country, practise language skills and promote Ukrainian culture. It is impossible to list all the exciting activities and places visited, but going to the North-Rhein-Westphalia State Parliament and Ratingen City Hall, meeting the Mayor, admiring the city from the top of Cologne's Cathedral viewing platform, visiting Kopernikus-Gymnasium, the Rhine river, T-Mobile Company, Opera House, Planetarium, cheering for Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest and walking around lively Christmas markets have left ever-lasting impressions. Dinners in a family circle with Pani Vera, Dr. Ulrich Busch, their children and members of Pro Ukraine e.V. were filled with special atmosphere and hospitality, to say nothing about delicious meals and lively talks. This experience was mutually beneficial and we still have vivid memories of our wonderful time with “Pro Ukraine e.V.”
This organization paid for the construction materials and labor at the Youth Center in the basement of our school, providing the necessary furniture, kitchen utensils and equipment. Now, during the war, the Plast Scout Center has become a shelter where students and teachers can feel comfortable and safe during air raid alarms. In particular, we were supplied with several generators to provide electricity and heat during power outages in the shelter. The Internat (dormitory) is an important part of the school, but the student's living conditions were not very comfortable. Therefore the premises have been equipped with better beds, mattresses, bedding, kitchen and tableware and also a generator. The Lyceum received a large number of laptops, video and office equipment which helps to organize the educational process in a better way. Students and teachers have instant Internet access. With the financial support of Pro Ukraine, a Media Center was created named after Maria Schewciw Kostiuk. On the occasion of the beginning and the end of the academic year, St. Nikolaus Day, as well as Christmas and Easter, the pupils receive gifts - stationery, sweets, clothes, cosmetics and hygiene products from Pani Vera. In 2022, the Lyceum graduates were presented with nice and practical suitcases to start their journey into adult life.
Pro Ukraine e.V. has a clear understanding that Ukraine must win this terrible war against the Moscow aggressor, therefore they also help our military with medicine and means of personal hygiene as well as warm clothes. They provided us with a large number of individual first-aid kits, which were given to each student and to the Plast Scout members. We could also share them with other schools in our community.
The help of the charitable organization "Pro Ukraine e.V." is essential and meaningful for us. A huge amount of work has been done to help us and Ukraine over these 20 years.
We are grateful to all of you members and supporters for your big heart, full of goodness and love for people!