Just three months ago, embroiled in a hostile war, Ukrainian refugee, Marta Artemenko, fled her home country.
She left home early in the morning together with her 16-year-old daughter Khrystyna, a decision she made just half an hour before.
“We didn’t have another chance… Russians were bombing the military base not far away from our residential area in Vyshhorod, which is not far away from Kyiv,” Marta said.
“We were lucky to have a full tank of fuel in the car that day, so it helped us to run away from the city and get to the Polish border.
“It’s a scary drive when you can see tanks around and military helicopters above, but as a driver I was trying to concentrate on the road to keep my daughter safe.”
Marta and Khrystyna spent an agonising three days and nights crossing the border along with thousands of other cars lined up.
On the final day of her drive, Marta was “almost losing consciousness from no sleep, food or water”.
The mother and daughter then spent a month in Germany helping to evacuate friends into the European Union and it was then when Marta decided to move to Australia because her sister has lived here for 15 years and she said “it’s always better to be with family”.
Incredibly, Marta has already found her feet in Australia and is employed as a Ukrainian Welcome Manager who runs multiple projects for the Ukrainian Council of NSW to support displaced people who have recently arrived from Ukraine.
One of those initiatives was a COVID-19 and flu vaccination pop-up clinic for Ukrainian refugees new to Australia, run in collaboration with the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) on Wednesday, 13 July at the Ukrainian Youth Centre in Lidcombe.
Julianne Harvey, Client Relations & Outreach Lead for the WSLHD COVID-19 Vaccinations Program, led the charge in the clinic and said “it’s important to protect this community who have moved to a new country and are adjusting to a new life”.
By having a dual clinic, it enables them to get vaccinated much more easily.”Julianne Harvey
Marta agreed with Julianne’s sentiment adding, “to have that feeling that somebody is taking care of you is very important when you are far away from your homeland”.