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Faces of The Fellowship: Semyon

JDC/Vladimir Shraga

Semyon, an 83-year-old widower, lives alone in Russia in one of his city’s poorest and most dangerous areas. His neighborhood was built as temporary housing for workers at a local factory years ago, and today they are little more than run-down shacks. Many roofs and walls have collapsed, and the company that used to provide the complex with central heating went bankrupt over a decade ago.

In Semyon’s house, one of the rooms is virtually uninhabitable. Each spring it floods with melting snow, so he has moved the furniture out and stays within the confines of his one remaining room. Even that room is in bad shape; the ceiling has holes in it, and he had to replace the floor.

When the heating company went bankrupt, Semyon installed a stove for warmth, but it was built poorly and caught fire a few years ago. Luckily, it happened during the day when Semyon was awake, and he was able to stop it before it spread. He is scared the stove will catch fire again, but he has no choice but to use it; otherwise he will freeze.

Even with the stove, the house is extremely cold. In the winter, his water pipes freeze and he must bring in bottles of water for washing and drinking. Semyon must venture out in the snow to use the bathroom, an outhouse a short distance from his house. This is extremely difficult for Semyon, who is in poor health. A few years ago, Semyon had a heart attack and underwent surgery for a hernia. All of these ailments require medication, and Semyon spends half of his small monthly pension on medicine.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) helps Semyon with his medical expenses, subsidizing a large part of his needed medication. IFCJ also provides Semyon with a food card so that he doesn’t need to make the cruel choice between food or lifesaving medicine. For the past four winters, emergency funding from IFCJ has helped Semyon buy wood for his stove to keep him warm throughout the region’s freezing winters. He is grateful for this caring, lifesaving assistance from Christians and Jews around the world.

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The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) funds humanitarian aid to the needy in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world, promotes prayer and advocacy on behalf of the Jewish state, and provides resources that help build bridges of understanding between Christians and Jews.

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