Anastasia, 19, and Anna, 20, were recently awarded scholarships to study at a Jewish program in Austria. This is a huge blessing to their large family of five children living in Zhitomir, Ukraine. Otherwise, all five siblings would continue to sleep together in the only bed in their crowded apartment. Now there are only three siblings – Elizabeth, 8, Sofia, 11, and Alexandra, 15 – sharing one bed instead of five.
Despite the cramped conditions, the girls speak sweetly to one another, and the entire family takes joy in each other’s company. If you met one of the sisters on the street, you would never know she comes from such hardship.
“I like to help people,” says Sofia. “I like numbers and I like to heal, so I want to either be a lawyer, a mathematician, or a doctor when I grow up.”
The girls’ father has a severely herniated disk, so he is frequently hospitalized and unable to work. And the few state benefits the family receives are not enough to live on, so The Fellowship is an important part of their lives.
The family’s connection with Fellowship-supported Hesed, an organization helping the Jewish community, began when the older daughters became interested in their Jewish heritage. The younger sisters appreciate all the Jewish community events hosted at Hesed and feel connected to their faith.
Now the girls treat their Hesed case manager as a beloved aunt – whenever she visits, they rush to hug her and tell her about their day.
Additionally, The Fellowship purchased winter clothes for the sisters and a washing machine for their family last year. Now that their mother no longer has to wash all of their clothes by hand, she has more time to spend with her daughters. They enjoy making crafts together, and the girls’ projects decorate the walls of their apartment.
The Fellowship also provides the family with a monthly bank card for food and medicine. The Fellowship bought a sofa and a bunk bed for the older girls to sleep on. Even though Anna and Anastasia have moved out, the bunk bed provides the other children a good night’s sleep.
“I am grateful to The Fellowship for all your help. Your involvement in our lives helps my children feel comfortable,” says the girls’ mother.