Valentin hesitates to remove his oversized sunglasses despite being indoors and the only person in the Fellowship-supported Mana Hama soup kitchen wearing dark tinted shades.
His reluctance is understandable—Valentin’s right eye is scarred and sightless.
Valentin was born in Belarus. He was 7 years old when his father joined the Soviet Army to fight the invading Nazis. When the Nazi Army invaded his village, the family home was bombed. Valentin survived but was severely injured in the explosion. Shrapnel blinded his right eye. His mother dragged him to a makeshift shelter where she and a traumatized Valentin waited out the attack.
His father never returned from war, so Valentin took a job as a metal worker. He married and he and his wife settled into an impoverished life in Minsk. In 1995, they decided to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel).
Upon arrival, Valentin took a job as a street cleaner in Tel Aviv. After a lifetime of scrapping to get by, the couple now struggles even more to make ends meet. Their financial situation is dire.
At 87, he cannot work. His wife, now 82, is nearly immobile, and after a fall is in the hospital for an indefinitely. Every day for 15 years, Valentin has used what little money he has to ride the bus to Mana Hama where he eats lunch and brings home meals.
“I don’t know what we would do without this place,” says Valentin. “Thank you! You make it possible for those who are hungry to receive food. This is a wonderful place. They take care of us here.”Tags: Faces of the Fellowship