Look at Maria’s Smile

The Fellowship  |  February 11, 2021

Maria doesn’t remember much about World War II – fortunately she was too young then to remember the horrors her family suffered during the Holocaust. But the post-war years in communist Ukraine proved nearly as horrific. 

Maria remembers the famine after the war. 

She remembers eating frozen potatoes, dug from the snow with frostbitten fingers. 

She remembers eating single grains of wheat that fell from the sacks of passersby. 

She even remembers eating pieces of straw – straw used for animal bedding – because she and her sister were so hungry. 

And Maria remembers when people would steal food from her mother, who would weep, worried her daughters would starve. 

Maria didn’t starve. But her life never became easier. Still in the same rural village in Ukraine, this 81-year-old Jewish woman not only remembers the constant pains of hunger from childhood – she’s still hungry today. 

During the summer, Maria grows carrots and potatoes, hoping they will last the winter. When they don’t, she must forage through the woods, looking for anything edible that might keep her alive. 

And during the summer, Maria chops her own wood – this frail Holocaust survivor – hoping it will last the winter. If her firewood doesn’t last… “That’s it,” she says. She would die. 

But Maria is alive, with food to eat and heat for her small home. Fellowship food boxes keep her from going hungry. Warm gloves and socks, and firewood to heat her meager home keep her from going cold. 

Fellowship friends like you have made sure that for once in her life, Maria knows something other than cold and hunger. Maria knows she is loved. 

I am not forgotten,” Maria says to you, thankful that she can have food, that there are people that care about me. I am so, so grateful that you remember old and poor people like me.