Faces of The Fellowship: Ilya and Raisa

The Fellowship  |  July 14, 2021

Elderly woman smiling who's seated next to a young smiling boy.
(Photo: FJC/De-Moriel Artyom)

Before this year of lockdowns and widespread illness, Ilya remembers spending a lot of time with his grandpa. Holding his grandpa’s hand, 7-year-old Ilya would skip through the melting snow in spring on the way to and from synagogue in their Ukrainian neighborhood. His grandpa loved the synagogue and Ilya did too. On school days, when class was over at the Jewish school Ilya attends, he would find his grandpa and tell him all the Jewish traditions and stories he learned that day.

Prior to the pandemic, the Jewish family definitely had their struggles. But they made up for it with all the care and support they provided for one another. One of their challenges was that Ilya’s mother Klavdia suffers from schizophrenia, so the grandparents were the ones who mainly looked after Ilya, reading him stories, fixing meals, and taking him to school events. But the family also lives in dire poverty. They live off of the grandparent’s meager pension, but it’s not enough for all four of them. During the winter months especially, they often are freezing cold, as they cannot afford to fully heat their home and they constantly are hungry.

But then the pandemic hit, making their situation so much worse. Ilya’s grandpa became very sick with the coronavirus in March of 2021, and then he had a stroke. Today, he is paralyzed on the left side of his body, and the sickness has left him completely bedridden. And the grandma Raisa cares for him daily.

Ilya Gets a Visit From The Fellowship

When The Fellowship discovered the Jewish family just before Passover, we asked young Ilya what he would like from us. He responded simply, saying, “more food.”

Soon after, the family opened their first food box from The Fellowship and our faithful donors filled with nutritious foods to keep the family strong and healthy. With the help of The Fellowship, Ilya also has started attending speech therapy, receives dental and medical care, and was given new shoes.

“Without The Fellowship we wouldn’t manage at all. They are taking a very challenging situation and making it manageable,” says the grandmother.

With The Fellowship, you can help impoverished Jewish families like Ilya’s today.