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Faces of The Fellowship: Svetlana

To get to the tiny, two-room house where Zhenja, 7, and Sasha, 9, live with their older sister, baby nephew, and grandmother, visitors must first pass through a street crowded with fancy car dealerships and large houses. However, all signs of wealth disappear when one turns onto the dirt road where this family lives in poverty.Their street is covered in mud puddles and is often filled with drunks. Across from their house, a huge factory looms, spilling dirt and pollution into the air. The girls’ grandmother, Svetlana (right), tries to give them a happy childhood, and takes them to free plays and art events when she can, but the streets of the neighborhood are dangerous, and she is often scared to take the girls out of the safety of their home.Svetlana feels so unsafe that she even keeps a guard dog for protection. However, the family barely has anything to protect. Two years ago, old, faulty wiring caught fire, gutting the kitchen and destroying the roof of the house. For six months, the family lived exposed to the elements. Rain, wind, and snow poured in, and the family was constantly freezing. Even now that the roof has been rebuilt, thanks to The Fellowship’s help, the house is still drafty and cold. Svetlana, Zhenja, and Sasha continue to wear coats and layers inside.“Were it not for The Fellowship, we’d still be living without a roof,” Svetlana said. “We are so grateful to The Fellowship; God should bless everyone who works with them.”The Fellowship’s assistance to the family extends beyond the roof repair. After the fire, we helped the family make additional repairs to the house, and we provided them with a new couch and refrigerator. Zhenja, Sasha, and Svetlana all receive food cards from The Fellowship, as does the girls’ baby nephew.The girls’ mother has remarried and lives with her new family. She has no interest in Zhenja or Sasha. Their father visits them from time to time, but provides little in the way of monetary assistance. Without The Fellowship, the family does not know how they would survive.“The girls always know that when a new month begins, The Fellowship will refill their food cards, and it’s the happiest day of the month for them,” Svetlana said. “It’s the only time of the month we can buy oranges and apples, and all the other food the girls love that we can’t afford on our own.”


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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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