Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has hit hard at a dental practice in North Shields, which has launched a fundraising campaign to support refugees fleeing the war-torn country.
Ewan Bramley Dental Care on North Shields Fish Quay is hoping to raise at least £5,000 to help his friend and colleague Serhiy Hrybovskiy, who has taken time off work to help fight for his country’s future in his home town of Lviv, in western Ukraine.
The 37-year-old, who runs the Smile Energy dental laboratory in Lviv, has already sent his wife and young sons aged six and 10 to safety in the Netherlands via Poland as Russian forces continue their brutal assault and unprovoked against Ukraine.
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He currently houses three families trying to flee the country in his apartment 70km from the Polish border, and also volunteers at a displacement center in Lviv, which has seen an influx of around 200,000 Ukrainians trying to escape increasingly violent Russian attacks in the east. from the country.
Now, following an appeal for humanitarian support from Serhiy as his country fights for the right to exist, Ewan Bramley, who runs the dental practice, and his colleague George Dandanov, who studied dentistry in Lviv and is still experiencing people in Ukraine, have launched a JustGiving appeal to help channel vital funds to their friend and colleague.
George, who is from Bulgaria and spent five years living and studying in Lviv, said he was shocked and shaken when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Speaking to Serhiy and other friends in the capital Kyiv and the Black Sea port city of Odessa, he said it had quickly become clear that deeds, not words, were needed.
“The Ukrainian people do not deserve what is happening to them. They are doing their best in a difficult situation, and I think fundraising is the least we can do for them.
“If I was still in Lviv, I would do what I can to help. Lviv is one of the safest places because it’s close to the Polish border, but it’s still not fair to say it’s safe because the air raid sirens are still sounding and it feels like it’s is only a matter of time.
“People from the east are fleeing west and heading towards Lviv and the Polish border. But it has also become a place to be for those who want to escape the fighting in the east but don’t want to leave Ukraine.
“Right now my heart is bleeding for them and for Ukraine.”
Russia’s advance in Ukraine did not go as planned. As the ground troops became bogged down and met fierce resistance from the Ukrainians, the Russian military adopted increasingly desperate and brutal tactics.
It has sparked Europe’s biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II, with the United Nations estimating that more than two million Ukrainians – mostly women, children and the elderly – have already fled the country.
These numbers are expected to rise – with the majority likely to continue to pass through Lviv.
In a message to ChronicleLive, Serhiy said Lviv was “suffocating” under the number of refugees arriving there from eastern and central Ukraine. He added that his cousin and his family in Kyiv had “spent three terrible days in a basement. Now, thank God, they are in Lviv with me, recovering from the horrors they experienced.
He added that he was “ready to defend my city, my homeland and my family” and began weapons training.
Serhiy told ChronicleLive there is a huge demand for NATO standard tactical first aid kits, tourniquets, paramedic backpacks, radios and any special means of communication.
He also compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to Hitler and said that an independent Ukraine “interferes with his imperial ambitions and his plans to create a new USSR with a totalitarian and inhumane regime”.
Ewan Bramley Dental Care has donated £1,000 to kick off its fundraising efforts and is appealing for donations from patients and the public who wish to help.
Ewan said: “I have known Serhiy for about three years and we have used his dental lab here at the practice. Some of our patients will have dental treatment performed by him at his company in Lviv.
“When the Ukrainian crisis started, like everyone else, I thought ‘fuck it.’
“We have been in regular contact with Sehiry since the Russian invasion 14 days ago, and as the situation becomes increasingly desperate for Ukrainian citizens, he has asked us to help support those fleeing to the security.
“The pedestrian queue for the border is now four people wide and 2 km long. The queue of vehicles for the Polish border is 20 km long.
“They need food, they need places to stay in Lviv, and they need medical supplies that can be sent further to Ukraine.”
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