Faces of The Fellowship: Maya


Credit: Chamah/Ilya Dolgopolsky

“It is very hard to speak about those years,” says 89-year-old Holocaust survivor Maya. Only eight years old when World War II began and the Nazis invaded Ukraine, Maya was sent with her grandmother to a ghetto for three years. Eventually, the ghetto was liberated by Soviet troops. But her struggles as a Jewish woman weren’t over yet.

Maya returned to school and excelled in chemistry. “My mother’s friend was an obstetrician-gynecologist, and I dreamed of becoming a doctor like her,” Maya remembers. But this was a time in history when most Jewish students applying to medical school could be denied simply because they were Jewish. “On forms, I stated my nationality as Ukrainian, pretending that I had left my passport at home. But each time I was also shaking with fear. What if they found my passport and expelled me from the Institute?” Miraculously, Maya made it through and practiced as a doctor for 38 years.

After a successful career of keeping women healthy and bringing new life into the world, Maya is the one who needs medical care today. Her husband passed away, so she lives alone, suffering from cancer and acute rheumatism, which causes her constant pain. Maya completely relies on Fellowship-supported Chamah for survival. Not only do we supply her with food, but she also receives visits from a healthcare worker, Katya.

Maya’s time with Katya is precious, especially during a global pandemic. Katya cleans her home and spends time with Maya, making sure she has everything she needs. We tell Maya that this support is possible thanks to Christians around the world who love her, and as a medical professional herself, she understands this care is lifesaving, telling us, “I’m very grateful!”

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