Svetlana is one of many elderly patients in DVI’s Smiles for Seniors program which provides free dentures to poor seniors, including Holocaust survivors. She is fortunate to have some of her teeth, but is missing many upper teeth. Svetlana will require partial dentures to allow her to resume eating a healthy and well-balanced diet. Her treatment at DVI will continue toward that end. You can already see the joy on her face!
Pictures L to R: Dr. Sarit Palmon, Director, Smiles for Seniors Program and Svetlana Samochvalov
Svetlana was born in October of 1941, four months after the war had spread to Russia. The family had originally lived in Belarus, but were forced to flee. After many days of travel by train, a very pregnant mother with her nine-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter finally arrived in Siberia. Hearing the Germans dropping bombs near the railway was a common occurrence during this dangerous journey. Many passengers in the train jumped out and literally ran for their lives, but this was clearly not an option for Svetlana’s family. In Siberia conditions were most difficult. There was almost no food to be had, and Svetlana was born under terrible conditions which contributed to her being a sickly child.
At the same time, Svetlana’s father was fighting against the Nazis in the Red Army. Earlier, in 1938 when Russia was under Stalin’s rule, he had been jailed for his political beliefs and as such was sent to the front to fight. He managed to keep his family informed of the progress the Russians were making as they systematically went from town to town clearing out Nazi soldiers. Once the war ended, he sent a letter to the family and had them take a different train ride – one that would end in a family reunion in the town of Varonish. They were reunited for a brief while however, her father had been so weakened by the war that he died shortly thereafter.
Svetlana and her siblings became professionals in their own right. Her oldest brother became a geologist; her middle sister, a computer engineer; and Svetlana became an aviation engineer. She married and had two daughters. In 1995 she came to Israel but was unable to work in her field. She has since worked as a childcare provider and is happy to be in a land where her grandchildren can grow up without fear of persecution.
Read more stories about DVI’s patients and dentist volunteers HERE.
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