Fourteen-year-old Yafim suffers from asthma, and has recently been diagnosed with cysts on both his lungs as well, further impeding his breathing and his ability to exert himself in any game or physically demanding activity.
“I feel trapped,” said Yafim when he was asked how it feels to live with his health challenges. “I am trapped in this tiny, filthy, and cold one-room apartment. I am trapped in my body that won’t let me run and play like other children my age.”
Yafim has been hospitalized more times than he can count. His condition needs specialized medical attention, but specialists cost money – money that his family just doesn’t have.
A restraining order prevents his abusive father from coming near his family, and he doesn’t provide any child support. His mother has been on maternity leave since his 2-year-old sister was born, and his step-father has a minimum-wage job. The failing economy in their country, Ukraine, doesn’t help.
Yafim has fallen behind in school because of missing so many days due to sickness. The schools can barely afford to heat their classrooms and pay their teachers, let alone find extra help for a challenged student.
Representatives from the local Jewish community and The Fellowship set up a meeting with Yafim and his family. They met a boy who dreams of being outdoors and spending time with friends, but whose physical and financial circumstances impede his ability to live a healthy life.
“There was such longing in Yafim’s eyes when he spoke of what he would like to be doing. I pray that we can alleviate some of the stress on the family so that they can focus on giving Yafim the care he needs so that he can enjoy his childhood,” said the Fellowship representative after speaking with Yafim and his family.
She gave Yafim and his family coupons to purchase new clothing. She also started sending them food packages that provide all of the food they need so that they can set aside their money to get Yafim medical help.
The services provided by The Fellowship breathed new hope into Yafim. “Finally I will be able to live my life to the fullest, thanks to Rabbi Eckstein and The Fellowship,” said Yafim with a rare smile on his face.