In these times of worldwide uncertainty and confusion, it’s important to believe in paying it forward and putting ‘Service Above Self.’ It is important to recognize and appreciate what we have and how ‘we’ as Rotarians can and do….Create Hope in the World.
The Rotary Club of Nanaimo North recently honoured two Ukrainian refugees. This was done through the generosity of Larry Myers from the Rotary Club of Elmbrook (Brookfield) in Wisconsin.
As a result, the Nanaimo North club was able to present two Paul Harris awards to Ukrainian refugees, Dr. Liudmyla Tykhovod and her daughter Nadiya Tykhovod.
Both of these women and their families recently came to Canada (June 2023) under the auspices of the CUAET (Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel) and have been sponsored by the First Baptist Church of Nanaimo with assistance from the St. Paul Lutheran Church of Nanaimo. Myers is a retired Lutheran clergyman and theological educator. He first encountered Nadiya when she served as his Russian-language translator in 2018 at a Lutheran seminary in Odesa, Ukraine.
It was over this time and during ongoing correspondence that Myers was able to stay in touch with Nadiya and follow her and her family, especially during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Over this period, the Tykhovod family was forced to evacuate their home city of Berdyansk, then Zaporizhzhia, then Ivano-Frankivsk, before finding some security in Klaipeda, Lithuania. During this time, Myers stayed in contact and helped where he could before the family was able to secure a transfer to Canada and Nanaimo.
Dr. Liudmyla Tykovod was born in a small Ukraine town and, at the age of 17, graduated from medical school and started working as a nurse. Soon after, she went back to school and became a pediatrician.
Over the next 41 years, she was highly sought out for dedication, compassion, attention to detail, and tireless work ethic. Frequently, she passed over promotions because she wanted to stay with her patients and be the doctor who would come to your house when necessary. She was also a volunteer in the medical ministry in the Baptist church, securing and providing medical supplies, particularly for families with low incomes. As Myers explains, “She exemplifies our Rotary motto… Service Above Self”.
Nadiya is a graduate of Zaporizhzia University, where she studied to become a translator and interpreter. After serving at the local bible college, she went on to pursue her own theological quest and graduated with a Masters of Divinity. This led her to the children’s ministry in an international Christian congregation in the Netherlands, where she excelled in setting up buddy programs for children with special needs.
With the changes and threats to Ukraine mounting around 2017, Nadiya went back to be with her family and to care for her mother. During this time, she returned to being a translator and was highly sought out for her abilities by many organizations, including the Lutheran seminary in Odessa, where she met Myers. By the end of 2021 and into the new year, Russian rhetoric had changed into an invasion, and Nadiya, working with the Mennonite Central Committee, set up and worked in a compassionate network to provide food, shelter, medicine, and care for thousands who needed humanitarian assistance. Despite the risks, she was front-line and there to help others.
In late 2022, Nadiya and her family had virtually lost everything, and they moved to Lithuania to be with and support her nephew Ivan, who was going to an American university in Klaipeda, Lithuania. It was during this time that things began to change, and the opportunity to move to Canada was presented.
Myers, through his church connections, followed the family in their immigration and resettlement. Knowing where the family was going to reside was one thing, but he felt now was the time to recognize these two women for their sacrifice, dedication, and ‘Service Above Self.’ Myers contacted the Nanaimo North club and, through his generosity and using his accumulated Rotary Foundation Contribution Points, set up two Paul Harris awards for the two women. As he said, “Their efforts towards peace, economic development, and humanitarian relief over the years demonstrate what we can all do to create hope in the world.”
Bill Grace, president of the Nanaimo North Club, is grateful for Myers’ vision and said, “It’s an honour to be part of this. The Tykhovod story and what they have sacrificed and endured is amazing, but it’s their resilience and their own belief that working together for something good – prevails.”
“We salute Dr. Liudmyla Tykhovod and her daughter Nadiya Tykhovod and acknowledge Larry Myers for his Rotary support,” he added.