Faces of The Fellowship: Sofia, Lia, Yosef, and Andrei

The Fellowship  |  October 2, 2019

The Kochnev Family in front of a painted wall.

Four siblings under the age of 13 – Sofia, Lia, Yosef, and Andrei – live in a constant state of stress and fear. Their mother was diagnosed with stage four cancer several months ago. The Ukrainian doctors had given up hope and said that she must go home to spend her remaining days with her family.

Then one doctor offered the children’s beloved mother a chance at intense treatment. She spends most of her time at the hospital, and when she is home, she is ill and in bed. Her husband spends his days struggling to make a living, leaving the children alone, afraid to sleep at night, because who knows if they will have a mother come morning?

Treatment and medication is expensive, and their father spends every penny that he manages to earn on his wife’s medical needs. The children go hungry, they are cold, and they have little clothing.

“What choice do I have? If I use the money on the children, then their mother dies,” says their father. “I can barely work. I have a prison record, which means that no one likes to employ me, and when they do, they pay me so little, it is laughable.”

Then Fellowship-supported LifeChanger FSU stepped in to help. A coordinator visited the family home to assess the situation, and the dire state of the children was immediately evident.

“They were all wearing rags that were either too big on their bony frames or too small on them. The smell in the apartment was horrific. It was as if the place had not been cleaned in years. The walls were covered in mold and mud. The floors were damp from rain water that had leaked through the cracks in the ceiling. As soon as I sat down with the children, I knew that they all needed intensive intervention. They made very little eye contact, and most of them were unable to have a conversation due to underdeveloped verbal skills.”

The children each had serious developmental needs. The oldest, Sofia, began suffering from a condition called Jacksonian epilepsy, where every seizure she had caused her physical damage, specifically affecting her eyesight. She needs to take expensive medications to control the condition.

Lia and Yosef both have problems with their eyesight. Yosef needs intense speech therapy for poor verbal skills. Little Andrei was diagnosed with autism, but his mother is determined that the diagnosis is incorrect and with the appropriate speech and social skills therapy that he will do just fine.

Fellowship-supported LifeChanger FSU began immediate interventions with the children. Every child is undergoing treatments appropriate to their specific conditions, be it psychological, therapeutic, or educational to help them catch up at school. They all need therapy to help them recover from their fear and trauma. They have started joining community social activities and even went to summer camp. The road to emotional, physical, and developmental stability is still long and difficult, but with help, there is hope that they will have a bright future ahead.

Meanwhile, their mother has undergone a very difficult surgery and is still struggling to recover. “Being sick while my children were suffering was the worst pain a mother could go through,” she said.

But now that The Fellowship is helping her family, she believes that there is some hope for them.

“Knowing that my children are being looked after and their individual needs attended to has brought me peace of mind. There are no words to describe the immense gratitude that I have towards the angels of the LifeChanger FSU program and The Fellowship. Your kindness is a gift to me and my family, a gift that will help us move forward and gives us hope for the future.”