Ukrainian-American Woman in Santa Barbara to Help Handicapped War Victims
Santa Barbara Cottage Therapist to Bring Medical Supplies to War-Torn Country
By Nick Welsh | March 17, 2022
Alina Tupchyk was 4 years old when her family fled Ukraine for the United States. Her father had been declared an enemy of the Soviet state and was on the KGB’s blacklist. As a Christian activist who ministered to prisoners in the jail and had foreign ties, he had to go. “He never thought in his lifetime that the Soviet Union would collapse,” Tupchyk said.
Today — even with Russian missiles bombarding Ukraine — Tupchyk, an occupational therapist at Cottage Hospital — intends to visit Ukraine this June. Since 2011, Tupchyk and her husband have been waging a low-key philanthropic ministry of their own, visiting every summer with boxes of medical supplies, some weighing 60 pounds. She’d find handicapped patients “cooped up in ninth-floor apartments without functioning elevators,” she said. “This year, the need will be greater than ever.
Tupchyk said she was taken by surprise by the war. “In some ways, it’s very surreal. But it’s real. In some ways, it feels like history is repeating itself,” she said. “It is history repeating itself.”
Tupchyk describes herself as “a Ukrainian who grew up in America.” She and her husband still have relatives there. Like her father, Tupchyk is deeply devout. She shared a letter she got from someone of her faith living in Mariupol. “The city is almost wiped off the face of the earth,” it read. “This is not the end… But it’s very scary… The corpses lie on the streets, they don’t have time to collect them, or maybe they don’t collect them… It’s very difficult. Pray!”
As an occupation therapist, Tupchyk said she deals with people every day who find themselves paralyzed from the neck down. “In a nano-second, their lives change. We all like to imagine everything will keep going on like it has been. In reality, our lives can change in an instant.”
Catch up on the rest of our cover package, “Ukrainians Speak Out in Santa Barbara,” here.