Cardiff Rugby players and staff have come together this week to support efforts assisting the humanitarian crisis developing in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.
Initiated by Moldovan prop Dmitri Arhip and working with the Honorary Consulate of Romania in Wales, who have launched the “Wales Cares: Ukraine, numerous care packages have been sourced, packed and collected.
Collections for the Wales Cares: Ukraine campaign are being taken at locations in Cardiff, Carmarthen, Bridgend, Hereford and Swansea , with the first shipment due to depart on Saturday. For more information click here.
And for Arhip, who has family and friends throughout the region, this small gesture, is his way to help in a heartbreaking and still unfolding crisis.
The tight-head prop said: “I know living in Wales that I cannot directly help all of the people at home but I can do some small things to offer some support from afar and it feels a lot better.
“Every day and every night I am thinking about all of the people I know there. I understand I can’t do a lot but I can do something.
“I have family in Moldova, Russia and Ukraine and it is just awful. A lot of family and friends are in the Ukraine and I’m in touch with them every day.
“Some of them have got to Moldova, some of their wives and kids have gone to Romania and some are still there. It is a very real situation and I have to do something to help.”
More than one million people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring counties so far and fighting in the region intensifies as the invasion continues.
This has been described by the UN as Europe’s biggest humanitarian crisis in a century and Arhip, who has won 20 caps for Moldova and also plied his trade in Romania and Russia before joining the Ospreys in 2012, it is a period of indescribable stress and uncertainty.
He has been heartened by the reaction and support of his teammates at Cardiff and friends throughout Wales, and is determined to raise further awareness on how people in the UK can help.
Arhip continued: “In Moldova, everyone is very worried. They don’t know what is next so it is a very stressful time. In Ukraine people are so scared, they are trying to protect themselves and their families and of course it is a tragic time in the relationship between our families - as countries we are all brothers.
“Everyone can see what is happening. It is a big mistake and is just tragic. I have huge support from the boys and how they have got behind this and tried to support me every day means a lot.
“I want everyone to understand what is going on and I am sure they do because I have never met people as good as in Wales and I have had so many messages of support already.
“I would like to say thank you to everyone who has sent me messages and provided support to myself and my family.
“I know how friendly and good the people of Wales are and they will want to help. Anything they can do to help the people back home is amazing. We have peace here now but we have to help other people.”
In addition to the Wales Cares: Ukraine campaign, Cardiff Rugby are also supporting the Red Cross’ Ukraine Crisis Appeal along with colleagues at the United Rugby Championship and Premiership Rugby.
Their joint statement read: “In a show of unity and solidarity, the United Rugby Championship and Premiership Rugby will share their platforms with the Red Cross at their games to support their Ukraine Crisis Appeal.
“At United Rugby Championship and Gallagher Premiership games this weekend big screens will signpost the Red Cross campaign ahead of kick-offs encouraging fans to support the Ukraine Crisis Appeal to help those affected by the invasion of Ukraine.
“The Ukraine Crisis Appeal will support people in areas currently affected and those potentially affected in the future by the crisis. The URC and Premiership Rugby are proud to stand together and encourage our rugby family to show solidarity with the Ukranian people by donating to the Red Cross appeal across all of its territories.”
For more information on the Wales Cares: Ukraine appeal, please click here.
To support the Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal, please click here.