WHEN Yulia Voituk fled Ukraine a few weeks ago under an Australian government emergency evacuation scheme, there was little time to do anything more than grab a few belongings.
One of 600 Ukrainians to receive the visa to Australia, Voituk says she feels “safe” in Australia, but is desperate to be with her husband and to again believe in the future.
The mother of one was in the middle of a course of extensive dental treatment at the time she was given the opportunity to escape Ukraine and had no choice but to discontinue the treatment and travel in pain without knowing when or if she could have her teeth repaired.
In a heart-warming act of generosity and compassion, Ukrainian-born Mornington dentist Slav Vyater has stepped in to welcome Voituk and her two-year-old daughter Anna to their new temporary home, and complete Voituk’s dental work, pro bono.
Interpreting for his client, Vyater said Voituk told him she still trembles when she hears planes overhead, and the fear of losing loved ones and her home haunts her.
Vyater, who came to Australia as a three-year-old, said he felt compelled to help the young mother, and was glad his practice could be there in her time of need.
“It’s a terrible situation for Ukrainians, many women and children had to flee, but husbands and fathers had to stay and could not leave,” he said.
“Yulia came to Mornington because she has some family here, but she has no idea of when she can go back or be reunited with her husband.
“When I met Yulia she was in pain with her teeth and she needed help, so it was something we were happy to do.”
Vyater, who founded Dentistree in Cheltenham and Mornington, said it was important to raise awareness about the plight of the refugees.
“Among our patients we are starting to see a few Ukrainian refugees who have fled the country over the last couple of weeks,” he said. “All of them have been mothers with children, while their husbands have been mandated to stay behind … a frightening situation for everyone.”
Vyater said that although he had grown up in Australia, his Ukrainian heritage further fuelled his desire to help.