Helping Natalia After Shocking Loss

The Fellowship  |  June 8, 2022

Young girl looking into the camera as her mother is behind her.
(Photo: IFCJ)

“I now live only for my daughter, Yelyzaveta. She is the one who gives me strength to carry on after the tragic death of Sergei, my husband.” This is what Natalia told us about the shocking loss of her husband in the Ukraine war.

Prior to the war, their life was normal and happy, explained Natalia: “I had everything I ever wanted.” They had a successful business, a comfortable home, and a loving family. In fact, they had been planning on moving to Israel to fulfill a dream of living in the Holy Land. “We had already begun the process of obtaining all the documents and permits for my and Yelyzaveta’s aliyah,” says Natalia. “I now regret that we didn’t do it sooner, but who could imagine such a terrible war would begin?”

Natalia tells us the shocking story of what happened. “On the morning of February 24, we heard loud explosions in our city, Mariupol. At the beginning, we thought we would be able to wait it out. Over time, the attacks became more intense. Soon it was impossible to leave the city, and we realized we were trapped. By March 6, Mariupol was surrounded by Russian forces. We tried to escape, but we had to turn back when we realized that all of the exits from the city were blocked. Within days, we lost access to water, gas, electricity, and communication with the outside world.”

They stayed in a small basement with ten other people, trapped in the dark with little food. Yelyzaveta would ask Natalia, “Mommy, why are they trying to kill us? What did we do wrong?”

A Shocking Loss

Natalia and Sergei were in touch with the local synagogue, which was helping with evacuations. But the only way to communicate was to go there in person since the phone lines were down. “The synagogue is a 20-minute walk from the basement where we stayed,” says Natalia. Sergei and his nephew Nikita planned to walk there and ask about evacuations. “I had a feeling that something bad was going to happen, and I asked him not to go. Sergei said he must go. What happened next, I heard only from Nikita.”

On their way to the synagogue, there was another attack on Mariupol. Nikita and Sergei ran to hide, but there was not enough time to find shelter, and shrapnel from a missile killed Sergei on the spot.

“I lost a good husband and Yelyzaveta lost her beloved father,” says Natalia, of the shocking loss.

The Fellowship Steps In

Just two days later, the family evacuated with the help of The Fellowship and the Jewish community.

The mother and daughter made it to Moldova, where The Fellowship provided them with food and shelter. “There are no words to describe our gratitude to the wonderful people of The Fellowship. Yelyzaveta is finally safe.”

In May, Natalia and Yelyzaveta boarded a Fellowship Freedom Flight and arrived in Israel. The support from The Fellowship continues to this day. “We had nowhere to live in Israel. The Fellowship found us temporary lodging in Jerusalem, and gave us money to buy food and take care of our needs since the arrival. Staying in the holy city of Jerusalem is helping me recover. Thank you for taking care of us in our time of need.”

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