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Faces of The Fellowship: Paulina and Dima

Faces of The Fellowship: Paulina and Dima (photo: FJC)

Paulina’s life seems to be falling apart. She remembers how it felt to be the only child of loving parents who gave her a lot of time and attention, as well as presents, vacations, and a happy life in Russia.

Since turning 12 years old, however, her life has changed. Her mother, Tatyana, had a very difficult pregnancy with Paulina’s younger brother, Dima. Her mother needed a Cesarean section, and the surgery led to major health complications, causing infections that kept her mother hospitalized.

Now, three years later, Tatyana still suffers physically and emotionally from the trauma. Dima was a difficult baby who refused to sleep at night or take naps. Because Tatyana was too weak to care for her newborn baby, her husband, Albert, cared for Dima and Paulina, as well as providing the family’s income.

As if things were not bad enough, several months ago Albert severely injured his arm, requiring surgery and expensive massage and physical therapy sessions. Then Paulina had her own personal injury: she had a sudden growth spurt and ended up with a slipped disk in her spine. She now goes to water therapy sessions to recover from the injury.

“It feels like the past three years have been one health challenge after the other for our family,” said Paulina, when she met with Tamara, the social worker from The Fellowship.

“My mother used to go for bike rides with me to pick wild raspberries in the summer, and we’d go sledding down the hill behind the park in the winter,” said Paulina. “Now all she does is lie in bed or go to the doctor for more surgeries or medicine. My father is under constant stress.”

Albert always worries about how the family will pay the bills. It is no surprise that he was injured at work. He doesn’t sleep well at night, which distracts him from staying safe while operating heavy machinery.

Tamara’s heart went out to this soft-spoken preteen who just wants her parents to be happy and healthy again. The Fellowship volunteer arranged for the family to begin receiving monthly food packages. She encouraged Paulina to join a youth group that would help her get out of the house and spend time with friends. She also set three-year-old Dima up in a day care facility with all expenses paid.

Paulina isn’t the only one grateful for The Fellowship’s assistance. Albert looked down at his injured arm, and said, “I am getting better, my arm is recovering, and soon I will be able to work properly again. But most importantly, my family is recovering. We were in a state of distress, but now things are looking up for us. We are able to see the possibility for a better future all thanks to the kindness and generosity of The Fellowship. Thank you, Rabbi Eckstein. And thank you to all of your donors for being here for us!”

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