Sebastopol, CA – When Leaf Roberts, founding member of Sebastopol World Friends (SWF), visited the hospital in Sebastopol’s sister city in Ukraine in 1994, she was deeply moved by the bleak conditions she saw there. “They were still using wooden IV poles; it looked like something from the World War II era.” A delegation of doctors and nurses from Sebastopol visiting Chyhyryn in April, 2017 found that little had changed in the intervening years and that the hospital continued to be in dire need of up-to-date technology and equipment. In 2018, Sebastopol World Friends fulfilled its goal to bring positive change to Chyhyryn and its hospital through the successful shipment of medical supplies and equipment.
In 2015, SWF partnered with the international organization Project C.U.R.E to perform an assessment of the greatest needs that the Chyhyryn hospital faced. While SWF fundraised to cover the cost of the shipment, Project C.U.R.E. sourced donations of the supplies and equipment most needed by the hospital, valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, and packed a semi- trailer-sized cargo container carrying these medical donations.
In December 2018, after a complex coordination effort with Project C.U.R.E, international humanitarian organizations, and last-minute hands-on assistance from the members of the sister city group Friends of Chyhyryn, the shipment finally arrived at the hospital in Chyhyryn, Ukraine, to the great excitement of the local community. About the shipment, one of the hospital’s doctors said: “We’re very excited seeing the list of equipment and supplies included in this shipment. This will really help us to provide better care to the patients we serve.”
SWF was able to complete this fundraising project due to the generosity of the local community, its membership, the Sebastopol Rotary Club, the Analy High School Theater Arts Department, and Project C.U.R.E.
SWF was organized as a Sebastopol City Commission in 1985. Since then, it has been active with its two sister cities, Chyhyryn in Ukraine, and Takeo in Japan. SWF’s goal is to work toward “World Peace, One Friend At A Time” by bringing sister city citizens together through youth and adult citizens home-stay exchange programs. Over 600 Sebastopol youth and adult citizens have participated in the program as grass-roots diplomacy ambassadors.
On March 17, 2019, at 1:00pm, the City of Sebastopol will celebrate 25 years of sister cityhood with Chyhryn, Ukraine, by dedicating a bench in the town plaza. The public is warmly invited to attend this celebration.