Sofiya Abramchuk (bottom left) with her UK-based family. Credit: Sofiya Abramchuk

‘When the invasion began I just felt sick’: Meet the pharmacist running for Ukraine

The former Cardiff University student will be running the Cardiff half-marathon

A Ukrainian runner has raised over £1,500 to buy desperately-needed medical supplies for her war-torn homeland.  

Pharmacist Sofiya Abramchuk, 35, is running the Cardiff half-marathon on March 27 to raise money to send medical supplies to Ukraine.

“We all feel heartbroken by what is happening,” said Sofiya, who lives in Llanelli. “But at the same time we are very proud of how much they are resisting and fighting for their freedom.”  

Sofiya moved to the UK from Ukraine in 2003 to pursue higher education. Although her Mum, Dad and sister all moved to the UK in 2018, many of her family and friends are still living in Ukraine.

“They live in the west of Ukraine, in the area around Ternopil, so are in relative safety,” she said.

“But that doesn’t make me feel any better, because at the moment I feel as though my family is the 47 million people still out there.”  

For Sofiya, a former student at Cardiff’s School of Pharmacy, the last few weeks have been filled with pain and worry as she has watched her country become embroiled in horrific scenes of violence and destruction.

“When I woke up on the 24th February (the day the Russian invasion began), I just felt sick,” she said.

“It’s been so emotionally difficult. The frustration of wanting to do more for them and stop this horror, it’s probably the hardest thing to deal with.

“You feel guilty that you are safe, and you feel that you should be there, helping them.”

Many of Sofiya’s Ukranian-based relatives (pictured) are still in the country. Credit: Sofiya Abramchuk

Despite only starting running in January, Sofiya has spent the last six weeks training hard and fundraising harder ahead of her half-marathon attempt.

Having nearly hit her target of £2,000, she aims to raise as much money as possible for medical supplies which are in desperate demand in Ukraine.

“We’re incredibly proud of her, as she’s never run a marathon before,” said Justine Jenkins, Research Manager at Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy, where Sofiya studied as an undergraduate.

“I think it’s incredibly important to support the Ukrainian people in any way we can,” she said. “The situation is horrific, but it has definitely united the world in condemnation and support.”  

After hearing about her fundraising attempt, Ms Jenkins got in touch with her former student, who had initially been using her own money to buy medical supplies, and offered to set up a Gofundme page to help support her efforts. The page quickly passed its initial £1,000 target.   

“The support has been absolutely tremendous,” said Sofiya. “People are just so kind. We can see that from the thousands of people who signed up to the refugee accommodation scheme.”

The UK’s ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme, launched this week, saw 100,000 people sign up to host refugees fleeing Ukraine within the first day.

The Welsh Government has also pledged to take in at least 1,000 Ukrainian refugees, and First Minister Mark Drakeford announced yesterday that refugees would be able to travel for free on Transport for Wales services.

“The public in Wales and all over the world have been tremendous,” said Sofiya.

“There’s been a phenomenal amount of support from everybody.”

  • Donate to Sofiya’s Gofundme here. The Cardiff Half-Marathon takes place on March 27.