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Project Spotlight: Chamah Child Development Center

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The Fellowship has been helping Jews in need throughout the former Soviet Union through Chamah for years. Among its many programs – including soup kitchens, “meals on wheels” programs, senior citizen centers, and home care for the elderly – Chamah runs a child development center in Moscow that provides care for children from underprivileged families, single-parent families, broken and dysfunctional homes, as well as for children who are physically challenged. The center is a second home to these kids, offering an excellent education, Jewish teaching, and proper nutrition in a warm, loving environment. 

Pavlik is one of the many children they have helped over the years. Within hours of being born, he was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome. The doctors told Pavlik's parents to send the boy to a state institution, arguing that he would never talk or even recognize his mother. You won't be able to handle such a child, they told Pavlik’s parents. His mother was persuaded by the medical personnel, and Pavlik was sent to the state home.

But being apart from her child left her in anguish. After just a few months, Pavlik’s parents found which institution he’d been taken to and finally brought him home. To give him the specialized help he needs, Pavlik’s parents began taking him to the Fellowship-supported Chamah center for child development.

Now 15, Pavlik is a kind, friendly, and shy kid. He is drawn to other children, so he especially enjoys his art therapy group, which includes other children with physical challenges and those without. The center also provides Pavlik with a speech therapist since he doesn’t talk much but seems to have much he wants to say.

At all the Jewish holidays, Pavlik is a regular guest and grateful listener at the Chamah programs. The other children love him, and he has made many friends and discovered several interests and hobbies. Pavlik’s parents are so grateful they raised their son themselves instead of letting him grow up in an institution, and are thankful for the wonderful help Fellowship-funded Chamah has provided along the way.

Tags: Stories , Advocacy , IFCJ

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