Sofia Rudenko, 22, is a marketing student at Griffith College Dublin. Originally from Kyiv, she saw her world fall apart when the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February. Far away from family and friends who stayed in her motherland, she decided to help by raising awareness among her fellow classmates about this conflict and its consequences. The love Sofia has for Ukraine led her to use information to defend her country’s cause.
Why did you decide to rally about the war in Ukraine ?
I have been worrying a lot about the information war since the beginning of the conflict because it’s so powerful nowadays. In Griffith College, people are from many different countries and I just wanted them to know the truth. They possibly hear things about Ukraine on the radio, from internet or Instagram, so as a Ukrainian, I have decided to tell them what I feel. It is great that they now can understand what is really happening in Ukraine.
What did motivate you to take action?
My motivation was to protect my country as much as I could and my only tool is information. My patriotic syncs woke up, that is why I wanted to tell people. I still have a responsibility for my country, so I tried to help with words, posts to raise awareness about the war. During the first days of the war, I felt very guilty for not being there for my parents and my family, who are are suffering. When bombs are flying all over their heads, I’m in safety with a clear sky over mine. I told myself that I could not stay in bed and cry but that I had to volunteer. After this, the guilt stopped as I knew that I could still help in Ireland.
Ireland has welcomed 9,000 Ukrainian refugees so far. What do you think of this welcome policy?
I am happy I have chosen this country to live in as people here are very supportive . They are probably the ones who understand how Ukrainian people are feeling the most, because they know what war is. It’s a small country but they are doing such a great job. Apartments, food and help are given to the Ukrainian fleeing the war, it is very touching to see such support, Ireland is a true friend of Ukraine.
In opposition, the UK has been criticised for the speed and scale of its actions to help Ukrainian refugees due to visa regulations. How do you consider this decision from the UK government?
It sounds like an excuse to not help Ukrainian refugees. A war is happening, people are not asking for visas to spend holidays. The UK is a big country and could make an effort and bring their contribution to these people who are fleeing the war. I think that Ukraine will have lots of friends after the war but also lots of enemies as we can see the real faces of some countries in this difficult time.
What is your next step after the rally?
At the moment, I am volunteering as a Ukrainian case worker. My role is to answer emails from Ukrainian refugees to help them resettle in Ireland. I help them finding an apartment to stay or an English course to adapt to the country. As many of them are scared, my job is also to reassure them, answering their questions and explaining what will happen after their arrival here. There are loads of messages every second, I really hope that as many people as possible will be supported to start a new life.