Emilia, 76, is one of Hesed center’s most dedicated volunteers in her Russian city. Hesed, one of the Fellowship-sponsored Jewish aid organizations located throughout the former Soviet Union, relies on volunteers to help provide relief to thousands of Jews – and Emilia feels blessed to be a part of this work.
A retired chemical engineer, Emilia lives alone in a modest apartment. When she was in her 20s, Emilia became sick and had an operation that left her unable to have children. Now, her parents and brother have all passed away. So although Emilia battles health problems and struggles with poverty, she suffers most from loneliness. “Sometimes, I almost cry when I think about how alone I am in the world,” says Emilia, her eyes filling with tears.
By volunteering at Hesed, Emilia doesn’t feel so alone; she helps others as they help her by filling her days with love and friendship, and alleviating her own loneliness.
Emilia visits the Hesed center nearly every day, and she organizes gatherings for the seniors club. These gatherings allow the elderly to meet and learn skills, like how to use a computer and the internet. While Emilia finds learning these new skills challenging, she sees the internet as a new way of communicating and meeting more people.
Emilia frequently spends time at Hesed, but it is not easy for her to get there. She suffers from lower back pain, severe arthritis, high blood pressure, and circulatory problems.
And in addition to health problems, the appliances in her kitchen are old and need to be replaced. Last year, The Fellowship provided Emilia with emergency assistance that allowed her to replace her fridge, which was so old it no longer worked properly.
However, as long as Emilia still feels strong enough, she will continue to volunteer at the local Hesed center – but she also feels relieved knowing she has helpful friends who want to support her too. And she relies on The Fellowship and the many Christians and Jews around the world who care for her, reminding her she isn’t alone.