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Faces of The Fellowship: Darya

Faces of The Fellowship: Darya (photo: FJC)

No matter how much 14-year-old Darya tries to bundle herself up, she is always cold. She suffers from hypothyroidism, which can be easily managed with a balanced diet and medication. But her family cannot afford the medication, and when left untreated, the disorder is difficult to live with.

While her mother, Irina, works hard as a saleswoman, she only earns $180 a month. They can barely afford the stale loaves of bread available at the market at the end of the day, let alone vegetables and other vitamin-rich foods that a person needs to remain healthy. They also struggle to heat their home.

Darya’s father abandoned them six years ago and doesn’t help the family financially. Today, Darya lives in a tiny apartment with her mother, her 8-year-old sister, Svetlana, and her sickly grandfather, Vladimir.

“I watch my family starve and there is nothing I can do about it,” said Vladimir. “I am unable to work due to my poor health, and no one wants a pensioner working for them anyway.” Vladimir had a heart attack two years ago that left him with very low energy. He gets a miniscule pension for all of the years that he worked as a car salesman, but this barely pays for his medication and living expenses. “I am slowly becoming a burden on my hard-working daughter, Irina,” he said. “I just wish that there was something I could do to help them.”

At least Darya and Svetlana’s school building has proper heating. “I would be happy if I had the energy to run with my friends, but my mind is in a fog constantly, and I am always hungry and cold,” Darya told a Fellowship staff member.

“Poor Darya acts like an old woman,” said her mother. “She shuffles around hunched over. She is wasting away. It breaks my heart to see her suffering. How I wish I could help her.”

When a Fellowship coordinator reached out to Darya’s family and told Irina that we would be providing meals for the family, Irina was so excited and her eyes filled with tears. “It is a blessing to be the bearer of good tidings and the deliverer of generous gifts,” said the coordinator. Now the family receives monthly food cards and special holiday food packages from The Fellowship, and we pay for Darya’s medication.

With proper nutrition and medication, Darya will be able to keep her hypothyroidism in check, meaning she can live a healthy life and spend time with her friends. The family wouldn’t be able to stay healthy without The Fellowship, and they feel very thankful.

Learn how you can help families in need, like Darya's, receive lifesaving care.

And help us keep impoverished elderly people, including Holocaust survivors, warm this winter when you support our Operation Winter Warmth project!

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