In Ukraine, where the average family has only one child, the Irina and her 12 children attract stares wherever they go. Ranging in age from 2 to 22, the siblings all get along and enjoy spending time together, which is good since nine of the children still live with their parents in a crowded three-room apartment (the three oldest children have moved out). To save space, the children sleep in bunk beds, which are arranged end to end in one room.
Although the family is happy and loving, they struggle financially. The father used to work as a musician in a military orchestra, but wasn’t paid a living wage. He now takes odd jobs whenever he can get them and helps Irina care for their children.
Irina, a trained social worker, stays home to care for the children, but occasionally serves as an expert on family issues for a local television talk show. Some of the children are now old enough to work and help support the family as well.
While the family receives some assistance from the local synagogue, their main source of support is The Fellowship. “The Fellowship’s monthly food support is very important for us,” says Irina. “When The Fellowship bought us a washing machine, it changed our lives.”
More troubling than the family’s financial woes are their health problems. In 2015, Irina was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is now undergoing chemotherapy, and The Fellowship is helping cover the cost of her medicine.
Rostislav, 16, has speech and hearing impediments that make it difficult to understand him when he talks. A few years ago The Fellowship bought Rostislav a hearing aid, which has helped him tremendously. The Fellowship has also helped his siblings – purchasing eyeglasses for those who needed them, winter clothing and shoes for the older children, and diapers for the younger ones.
Our faithful donors have also provided the family with food assistance, a stove, bedding, a heater and assistance in covering their heating bills, and school supplies. They are grateful beyond words for the loving assistance.