Ulyana, 5, lives with her mother, Sasha, in a tiny room of a communal apartment in a low-income housing project. The stairway leading up to the family’s fifth-floor apartment is filthy and reeks of urine.
While the building is not looked after, and many of the residents are criminals, the families that live with Ulyana in her shared apartment are kind and decent. They keep the shared kitchen and bathroom clean and neat. Unlike other communal apartments, Ulyana and her mother don’t need to worry that their food and clothing might be stolen from the common space.
Ulyana and Sasha moved to this apartment when Ulyana’s father was arrested and thrown in jail. Although he calls Ulyana occasionally and wants to maintain a relationship with her, he does not provide any financial assistance.
So Ulyana and her mother have no furniture. Since the family rents the room of the communal apartment, they are not considered official city residents. This means Sasha is not allowed to work and cannot register Ulyana for school in their small town. Ulyana dreams of going to school where she could make friends and learn, but this isn’t possible.
This past year, The Fellowship provided Ulyana with monthly food packages to help them have enough to eat. Next year, The Fellowship hopes to sign Ulyana up for a food card and provide her with winter relief and psychological support.
In the meantime, Sasha plans to bring Ulyana to the local Fellowship-sponsored Hesed Center for community events, as they provide Jewish cultural programming to support the Jewish community. Sasha hopes this will give Ulyana the chance to meet other children her age.
“I am so grateful that The Fellowship exists,” says Sasha. “Thank you so much for your help.”