Ukrainian woman stuck in Lexington, desperate to get home to family in war-torn Ukraine

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Posted at 5:21 PM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-07 17:45:29-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Native Ukrainian, Olha Myroshnychenko, is in Kentucky visiting friends.

She was supposed to fly back to Ukraine Saturday, but with the war going on, it was impossible.

"I can't even tell you how I feel because my spirit is there with my family at home," Olha, who speaks Russian, said via a translator.

She's desperate to get back to them, but she can't.

Her friend Viorika Kopets, born in Ukraine and now lives in Lexington, said Olha's family is just 20 miles from the Russian border.

"Her daughter is telling her that, 'Hey, grandma is not doing well,'" Kopets said about Olha's situation. "There is no medicine. They can't get medicine. The pharmacy is empty."

Olha's family reports hearing bombings multiple times a day. Some of them are staying in bomb shelters. Meanwhile, Olha is half a world away.

"Being with her in all of this is very hard, very tough," Kopets said. "There's no words. It's very hard. Nobody is prepared for this."

"The only thing I can do is pray, is hope that everything will be okay because the only thing I have left right now is hope," Olha said via a translator.

What is helping to keep her going is the support she feels from the Lexington community.

On Monday, she came to a fundraiser for Ukraine refugees.

It was hosted by Viorika's coffee shop, Brevede, in the Distillery District.

Customers were asked to come in and grab a free coffee and pastry. Local Papal Missionary of Mercy Father Jim Sichko footed the bill, and that money is going to Ukrainian refugees in Moldova.

Kopets said she chose Moldova because it is not a member of the EU, and therefore, the refugees going there are not receiving immediate refugee status like those fleeing to EU countries, such as Poland and Romania. Kopets also grew up in Moldova after being born in Ukraine.

Dozens of customers came out all day long to support. One man LEX18 spoke with said he changed the location of his meeting so they could go to Brevede in support.

"Often we look at world events and they seem far away," Chris Logan said. "Knowing the owners here, Nic and Viorika, it made it very personal."

"We have this massive amount of people that have just come together and they're linking arms over coffee, you know?" Kopets said about the large crowd that came to the fundraiser Monday. "It's incredible and beyond my dreams."

Ascertain they are Lexington is full of people who want to help, they're also certain Ukraine will persist.

"I can say with full faith from the mouth of all Ukrainians that we all have faith in him [Volodymyr Zelenskyy], and there will be peace in the country again," Olha said.

"I wanna believe it," Kopets said. "I wanna believe it. I believe it."

Kopets is currently planning a way to get supplies to Moldova and will have details shortly for those interested in helping.

Olha is looking for American athletes who are interested in helping athletes in Ukraine in some way. Olha is a rhythmic gymnastics coach and is on the Executive Committee of the Ukrainian Gymnastics Federation. If interested, contact her via Brevede.